PARIS — Something’s missing in the classic men’s wear world, according to Philipp Plein. His answer: the label he bought two years ago from Italian businessman Flavio Briatore, of Formula 1 renown, catering to older men but young enough to mold into something a “little bit more fun,” in his view. Think velour blazers, leather jackets, dressy shirts, tuxedo-style jackets embellished with the “Billionaire” crest — but no ties.
“The store here in Paris is the first one with the new store concept,” he said, speaking from a black leather daybed on the third floor of the narrow store, where gray marble floors contrasted with the slick black walls, mirrors and shiny gold shelving, stamped with stylized B’s. The space sits on the hottest street of the luxury retail scene in Paris, the rue Saint-Honoré, with 23-foot-high windows overlooking a passageway that offers hurried pedestrians a shortcut to the Place Vendôme and its high jewelers.
The label, which is geared toward a more senior crowd than the group’s other brands, Philipp Plein and Plein Sport, doesn’t compete with the other two, according to Plein.
“It’s like having a Rolls-Royce, a Lamborghini and a Range Rover in the garage,” he said, easing his 4-year-old son Romeo Prince Plein from his shoulders. So which one is Billionaire? The Rolls-Royce, he answered, without hesitation.
Being a younger label makes it easier to position differently than more classic men’s wear brands that might struggle more to move into more adventurous territory, according to Plein. The designer looks to older men to model the clothing, as shown by the parade of silver-haired models who worked their way through a bar at the Ritz hotel in the label’s signature blazers after a cocktail party for the store opening.
“Instead of putting 16-, 17-year-old models into the fashion show on the catwalk wearing the brand…these kids, after, they put on their Philippe Plein sweatshirt and their Supreme shorts and they go back on their skateboard and drive home and would never wear this brand,” he said.
“We have to position our brand in a way that when the young generation looks at [it], they should say, ‘Oh, when I get old, I wanna dress like these Billionaire guys,’” he said.
Checking out the new store, Timothy Weah, a soccer player for the Paris Saint-Germain club, said Philipp Plein was “one of the best in the game,” but he was getting to know Billionaire. He had his eyes on the shoes; black-and-white sneakers with embroidered Billionaire logos sat on the shelf behind him.
“Even before I was known as a soccer player, fashion was always my thing—I love the fashion industry—I’m a shoe head, so anything that has to do with shoes I love,” he said.
The label, which also sells clothes for kids, is profitable, according to Plein.
“Since last year the brand is already profitable and generating a positive ebita and a positive cash flow,” he said. The group is independent and has no bank loans, he added.
“I needed two years to restructure the brand…now it’s time to expand, we are very aggressive like with Philipp Plein but of course on a different scale,” he said. With 21 flagships around the world at the moment, Plein has plans to set up stores in Monte Carlo, Saint-Tropez and Courchevel in Europe, as well as Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles and Harbour City in Hong Kong.