CLUB MONACO’S NEW MEMBERS

Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — Club Monaco is hitting Club Avedon this fall.
Its new ad campaign, shot by Richard Avedon, features models who look like they’re ready to party the night away.
“Dick [Avedon] loved the clothes and found them racy and sexy. He wanted to create club people,” said Christine Ralphs, senior vice president of marketing for Club Monaco, the Toronto-based chain that was acquired by Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. last year.
The creative team set out to find models who could play characters in a fictionalized club scene and shot the campaign at Industria here.
“The clothes are the most sophisticated they’ve ever been,” said Joe Mimran, president and founder of Club Monaco, in an interview. “And the most advanced we’ve ever had them. We still keep a clean, modern spirit, and that’s what Club Monaco is all about.”
Mimran said the reason he chose Avedon was because of his expertise in shooting black and white photographs.
“We talked about it a lot. Our history of photography is very black and white, very modern and very clean. We wanted to show the clothes this year, more than the attitude. We really wanted to show fashion and very few photographers can really handle this campaign. Dick Avedon was a natural choice,” said Mimran.
The admiration appears to be mutual, with Avedon describing Club Monaco as “a swell club. It’s always gratifying to create an image for a client who gives you freedom and support.”
In Avedon’s club world, Malgosia is a central character — “the girl for whom the party never ends,” said Ralphs. She’s photographed in a sequin dress, a chinchilla fur and mock croc leather. Other models in the campaign are Vivien Solari, Justin Chambers, Jake Rachal, Brittan Dunn, Luca and Joshua Alexander.
Mimran said the campaign also highlights other major trends of the season, including chalk stripe pants, tweeds and the jacket. “It’s a really rich season after an explosion of color,” he said.
“And black is back,” added Ralphs.
Mimran acknowledged that the retailer had a “soft spring,” but said early fall was off to a good start.
“We pulled back on inventory very dramatically this spring which caused assortment issues. It was all planned a year ago during the time I was working on the acquisition by Polo. Whenever there’s a life change, people take their eyes off the ball for a short period. But we’re back,” assured Mimran.
He said color performed well this season, during “the early part of the year when it wasn’t quite as prevalent.”
Asked how he’s adjusted to the new Polo ownership, Mimran said, “It’s been an excellent relationship. The biggest challenge for us was we were a little company and relatively unknown. We burst onto the scene with our imaging and acquisition by Polo, which put us quite in the limelight. Expectations have been raised. There were a lot of emotional challenges we had to deal with.”
Currently, Club Monaco has 14 stores in the U.S. and expects to add 11 more by yearend. New stores are planned for New York (Fifth Avenue and 55th Street), South Beach, Fla., Manhasset, N.Y., Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco, among others. Club Monaco has 60 stores in Canada (three more will open by yearend), 20 stores in Korea, 22 in Japan, one in Indonesia and one in Israel.
Asked about European expansion, Mimran said, “Our focus the next 12 to 18 months is getting our North American business rolling and performing at a rate we’re happy with.”
According to Paul Sinclaire, executive vice president and fashion director, the Club Monaco campaign will break as a 16-page insert in Italian Vogue in August, even though the retailer has no presence in Italy.
“We’ve been using Italian Vogue because it sells to the fashion influencer,” said Ralphs.
The campaign will also run throughout the fall in magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Rolling Stone, V, Details and Interview.
In addition to putting the images on scaffolding at the stores that are under construction, Club Monaco will run an outdoor campaign on the backs of buses in San Francisco and Chicago in the fall. The retailer also will advertise on vogue.com’s site during New York’s fashion week, and will run inserts in the New York Times.
Club Monaco also is developing a new home furnishings chain for the Canadian market called Caban, which will carry both home and fashion, as reported. The first Club Monaco Caban will be a combination home-furniture and clothing chain, opening in early September in Toronto.
The Caban store concept, which houses chinos and simple white shirts with furniture, bedding, tabletops and horticulture under one roof, is geared to urban customers in their 20s through early 50s. Mimran said the clothing will be fashion-forward but will be “more approachable” than the form-fitting, edgier clothing found at Club Monaco, which caters to a younger audience.
A separate illustration-based outdoor ad campaign in Canada is planned this fall.

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