HONG KONG — Asia is not a continent known for beach bums but Roland Herlory, chief executive officer of French luxury swimwear brand Vilebrequin, said he sees plenty of business potential in the region.
The executive, who was in Asia last month, said the G-III Apparel Group-owned brand is seeking local partners in several Asian countries, including China, Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia.
“We have big plans of expansion in Asia,” he said. The company has 28 sales points, including eight freestanding stores. Vilebrequin has outposts in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia and sells at a few retailers in the region including Isetan in Tokyo.
Herlory said sales growth figures for Asia are not statistically significant as the numbers are still very small, but the region accounts for 7 to 8 percent of Vilebrequin’s sales volume. The executive said the brand’s sales worldwide grew 20 percent last year to 100 million euros, or $113.36 million, and the company plans to post similar growth between 15 to 20 percent in the coming years.
Herlory said his company has toned down some of its loud prints to make them more subtle and sophisticated for Asian tastes. The brand is also playing up its quality craftsmanship — its suits are made from a special polyamide fabric with a cottony touch and signature drape.
“We brought bathing suits to a level of luxury product,” Herlory said.
While Asian people are less likely to book beach vacations than their European and American counterparts, the former Hermès executive, said things are starting to change.
“I believe that [Asian] people, more and more, they are moving or they are adapting the western habits and the art of living around the beach,” he said, adding that pools and hot springs are also becoming increasingly popular lifestyle pursuits for Asian consumers.
Meanwhile, Vilebrequin is continuing to expand its e-commerce business. It already ships to the U.S. and Europe and will deliver worldwide as of next month, Herlory said.