LONDON — Delvaux wants to make its voice heard louder with the opening of its New Bond Street store, located on a landmark location on the street, formerly occupied by shoemaker Pinet.
Moving on from a smaller, less visible space down the street, the Belgian luxury handbag label is making a bolder statement with its new space, to signal its business momentum and its intention to put down strong roots in the British capital.
Following on from another store opening on Sloane Street last May — located next to the Fendi and Versace boutiques — the Bond Street space pays homage to all things British. Its windows, created in collaboration with Tim Walker, feature mannequins in tall Bearskin hats and extravagant dresses painted with the Union Jack, as well as an array of miniature versions of the Brillant, the brand’s signature tote bag, reimagined in tartan fabrics or the shades of the English flag.
Walker also produced a short film to mark Delvaux’s big London moment, where the same mannequins come alive and stroll around paper versions of the city’s landmarks with their miniature Brillant bags.
“Tim has that British idiosyncrasy as a photographer and he’s a true Londoner. That’s why by working with him we can identify and belong to the city,” said Jean Marc Loubier, chairman and chief executive officer of Delvaux and president and ceo of First Heritage Brands, the group that owns the accessories label, as well as Sonia Rykiel and shoemaker Robert Clergerie. He added that with every new opening he is always looking for locations that have historical and cultural significance and his aim is to meld the local identity with the brand’s own aesthetic.
“We chose the Bond Street location because of its presence in the heart of London. It’s as historical as we are and we wanted to respect what it was, but we’re also making it more current with all the creativity and the beautiful products we are adding to the space. I also like the dialogue between the two stores, it means the company really belongs to London,” Loubier said.
For the New Bond Street location, the brand kept the sculpted wood facade of the storefront, while introducing a more contemporary aesthetic inside.
The store, which spans two floors and 2,153 square feet, features wooden floors, multicolored consoles displaying the bags, a long white table by Martin Szekely — sourced by Loubier — and a black curved panel leading to a more intimate, downstairs section and paying homage to the Flemish aesthetic.
“We want to express the strength and the diversity of the brand, but without being arrogant,” added Loubier, who has been growing the label through strategic retail openings.
“I believe in strength not in size, just like an atom is very small but very powerful. That’s why we spend a lot of time on the way we design our stores in terms of determining the right volume, the architecture and the flow, so people can go around and stroll within the store,” he said.
The company has also opened its first flagship in Milan, an opening in New York is set for later this year, while additional locations in China and Japan are also in the works.
The goal is to establish presence in all key markets and to create retail concepts that are strong enough to invite customers in to discover the brand and encourage them to keep coming back.
No further investment is being made into wholesale or e-commerce at present, retail being the sole focus.
“We are very present online, but we don’t sell our bags [via e-commerce] because we want people to get to know who we are and what we represent first. If you are just on the net then you are very passive and we want to keep an ongoing dialogue with our customers. They are people looking to make a decision, wanting to discover, wanting to experience, to discuss and understand the product,” Loubier said.
The strategy is clearly working. Since First Heritage Brands bought the company in 2011 and expanded its retail footprint, revenues have multiplied by 10 and sales increased outside Belgium from 3 to 85 percent.
The brand is adopting a similar approach when it comes to its product offer, staying focused on its classic shapes and slowly introducing new ones, like the Cool Box, a small rectangular-shaped tote with D-shaped hardware, which made its debut earlier this year.
“The newness must become an archetype bag for the future and last. we don’t do disposable creations. At the end of the day, people have to understand why these pieces and the craft behind them are outstanding, once they do, success is there,” Loubier added.