While many small, independent fashion houses seem to be at risk in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis, Jacquemus is holding up well.
Ahead of parading his spring 2021 collections in a wheat field outside of Paris on Thursday night, designer and founder Simon Porte Jacquemus cited robust online sales and said he did not have to lay off or furlough any staff so far.
“The brand has not suffered too much,” he said, while acknowledging that it might not be able to absorb the shock of another extended standstill. “I’ve heard from a lot of friends who were made redundant at other houses, but we haven’t had to do that yet. In fact, we are hiring people.”
Asked if his e-shop worked well during confinement, Jacquemus cited “record” sales of his spring 2020 collection, which included clingy knit dresses for women and white shirts with hand-painted blue stripes for men.
“We have never seen that at the start of a collection, and that reassures us, and the retailers who just started selling us should be reassured,” he said, noting that shirts is one of best-selling categories for men since its launch in 2018. For women, summer dresses, pants and shirts are among top performers, he noted.
One of fashion’s consummate showmen, who last year mounted an “epic” show on a lavender field in Provence, Jacquemus said physical fashion shows — he does coed displays twice a year, in January and June — are strategic, and essential.
“If we did not have this show, would the orders be as strong?” he asked. “A girl, will she want to buy my pants if she doesn’t see them in motion on the runway?”
His spring 2021 showroom opened on Friday, and most orders will be placed online, especially as he has a lot of American wholesale clients. Jacquemus said “the designs speak for themselves and in the photos, so it’s quite easy and understandable to buy.”
While bemoaning that some big e-tailers have been reducing orders lately, Jacquemus said he would continue to emphasize his own e-shop.
“Today, you have to be be very close to your customers and talk to them directly,” he said. “I think this is the best approach.”
In an interview last year to mark his first decade in business, Jacquemus told WWD he was expecting his label to generate sales of between 23 million euros and 25 million euros in 2019, up from 11.5 million euros the prior year and up from 7.5 million euros in 2017, fueled in part by the explosive growth of accessories, with handbag styles such as the best-selling Chiquito accounting for 30 to 40 percent of revenues.
He launched his label after dropping out of fashion school, prompted by his mother’s untimely death (Jacquemus is her maiden name). The business has become even more of a family affair since he now employs his father, stepmother, aunt and best friend in their village of Charleval, where he opened a logistics center in 2018.