PARIS — French luggage maker Lipault is fortifying its shift to a more fashion-oriented direction and a push into the leather-goods category with the appointment of Isabelle Août as artistic director.
The veteran creative, whose CV includes studio director positions at Maison Margiela and Jean Paul Gaultier, got to know the team while working on the recent Gaultier collaboration with Lipault. The debut Lipault collection under her direction will launch for fall 2019.
“We are confident that she can reinforce our colorful and light DNA while bringing a touch of daring to our collections. She will also bring her vision in terms of materials, colors and shapes,” Jonathan Dory, the brand’s chief executive officer, said.
Known for soft, colorful, lightweight luggage, the Paris-based brand has been repositioning itself as a lifestyle player, with the launch three seasons ago of a leather goods line. In some of the brand’s own stores, sales of leather goods can represent up to 60 percent of sales, though the average is more like 25 percent, he said, adding that they especially need to develop the category in department stores.
Since being acquired by the Samonsite Group in 2014, the brand has multiplied turnover sevenfold, according to Dory, posting sales of around 30 million euros in 2017 versus 5 million euros in 2014. This was achieved through the internationalization of the brand, bringing it to department stores globally, he said.
Lipault has doubled its network of own stores this year to 21, of which 16 are in Europe. The brand has around 500 points of sale worldwide.
Lipault also recently launched its new store concept based on a “boutique experience,” with an interior inspired by a Parisian apartment (think parquet flooring and moldings.)
“There’s a dressing room mood. What the Lipault customer does when she’s in one of our stores is pick her bags based on her style and whether the color suits her. It’s totally different from buying an ordinary suitcase, where it’s much more rational. It’s much more emotional, so we want her to feel at home,” Dory said.