PARIS — De Fursac has set its sights on London, and has opened a store in Chelsea just under a year after its first pop-up in Selfridges.
With international tourism on hold, the label is emphasizing local clientele in London.
“It gives us the opportunity to continue a dialogue with Londoners and plan the next steps,” said chief executive officer Elina Kousourna. The executive took the helm of the label following its acquisition last year by SMCP Group, which also owns Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot.
“We’re pretty confident about the appeal of the brand, and what we are offering,” added Kousourna, speaking at a showroom in the label’s headquarters with creative director Alix Le Naour.
Plans were to also refurbish the label’s historic store in France this year, but that has been postponed until next year, due to the coronavirus lockdowns, which halted construction projects. Initially opened in 1994, the store is located below company headquarters on a bustling crossroads in central Paris. The brand has 60 sales points and 20 stores.
De Fursac is also seeking to push into Spain, but the economic situation there has put that project on hold for the moment.
The idea is to gradually push into international markets near France, in Belgium, Luxembourg — where it is sold in Galeries Lafayette’s department store there — and later to Germany and The Netherlands.
“We will try to do a focus on London next year,” said Kousourna.
The London store has touches of wood and navy blue, in keeping with brand codes, with an eye to showing a broader wardrobe range, branching out beyond tailoring.
“Today, the concept we have with olive wood and navy blue silk is quite sophisticated, but in a way that the urban casual side is perhaps less well integrated,” noted Le Naour.
The label is expanding its breadth, not by reducing tailored pieces, but by bulking up other areas.
“It’s not like there are different lines of clothing, say tailored, casual and eveningwear, but rather the wardrobe of the same man,” she added.
The label adjusts cuts in a subtle way, carrying styles over from one season to the next, with new models introduced from time to time. Fabrics are a strong focus, serving as the starting point of a collection, a method that carries over to the more casualwear.
“We really start with the materials,” said Le Naour.
Seeking quality materials fits the current “back-to-the-source” mood, she added, noting a growing interest on the part of consumers in accumulating less clothing while emphasizing quality.
“We’ve always been here, having built the brand not on quantity but rather focusing on lasting quality, rather than pushing clients to constantly change their wardrobes,” said Le Naour.
Kousourna, who had been responsible for corporate social responsibility subjects at SMCP group before taking the helm of De Fursac, said the label’s approach has been to emphasize durability with a focus on natural materials.
“Already the large majority of our clothing is made with natural sources,” she said, listing wool, cotton and, for linings, rayon — but not polyester.
“We will go for more certified materials — for this is not a revolution, but we are evolving with times that call for more certification,” noted Kousourna.
“A number of our suppliers already have a number of certifications,” added Le Naour, explaining that they plan on using Global Organic Textile Standard certified materials for chinos.
“We will have to see what labels we would like, and how far we take this — one day we could do a collection with no dye — but then everything would be beige, brown and ivory,” explained Le Naour. The label already works with suppliers that respect ecological norms when it comes to water treatment, for example.
Le Naour, who recently traveled to Italy to see the label’s suppliers, noted a certain resilience.
“We were the last to see them before the lockdowns, then the first to see them again — they appreciated it. I found them very resilient — they didn’t let themselves be knocked down,” she said.
The brand, which has been readjusting production to adapt to the current environment by holding some models for next winter, for example, saw a significant uptick in business in France in August.
When it comes to digital communications, the label is beefing up content on Instagram and making short films.
Style-wise, in keeping with an expansion of relaxed looks, the label is shooting them in a less formal setting. The campaign shows the sensual interior of a vintage Ford Thunderbird, for example.
“More images, more video and digital content, offered at a faster pace than what we did until now — and more external content,” explained the executive, outlining plans to feature people who wear the label. When de Fursac opened the Chelsea store in London, they interviewed people working in artistic and fashion-related fields about their definition of elegance and what they thought about the brad.
Adding to a rising industry trend, the label is also issuing music playlists.
“We started asking people to do playlists during confinement — it’s a way to animate our community with an aesthetic prism that’s not just focused on clothing but rather music,” noted Kousourna.
The label is gradually bulking up accessories, offering two new pairs of shoes this season and three new pairs, including a pair of tennis shoes, next spring.
“I said tennis shoes, not sneakers — it’s our Roland Garros style,” noted Le Naour.
Asked about integration into the SMCP group, Kousourna noted they are not seeking a large-scale integration, but rather drawing on support from the group in areas such as architecture, some consulting services for back-office operations and some technology subjects
“Where we might have some weaknesses, to see if there are areas where we can borrow or systems we can integrate, but not much more than that,” noted Kousourna.
“The roadmap stays the same, we’ll see what pace it will take — at the same time, we’ll remain pragmatic,” she said, noting opportunities could arise.
“We are lucky to have a financially solid brand and group to take advantage of opportunities that come up,” she added.