French Connection, the British fashion brand, will relaunch its FCUK logo through an exclusive capsule collection with Urban Outfitters. The collection launches April 1 in select Urban Outfitters stores across North America and online at urbanoutfitters.com.
The collection includes FCUK logo T-shirts, tank tops, crew neck and hooded sweatshirts, and denim for women and men. There are 12 styles in total, eight for women and four for men, however several of the styles are unisex. The collection retails from $39 to $129.
“Our brand has always been driven by innovation and change. When FCUK launched in the Nineties, it pushed boundaries and was wildly popular with a youth that celebrated individuality and self-expression,” said Stephen Marks, founder and chairman of French Connection. “The timing is right to bring this back and introduce it to a new generation that shares this attitude and energy.” Urban Outfitters has the capsule exclusively for four months, said Marks.
Officials at Urban Outfitters declined comment.
FCUK, the attention-grabbing and controversial logo of the French Connection brand, was introduced in the company’s ad campaigns in the spring of 1997. The abbreviation was born after British advertising executive, Trevor Beattie, visited the French Connection offices and noticed the abbreviation FCHK on an internal memo, standing for French Connection Hong Kong. From this, Bettie suggested the brand use FCUK, standing for French Connection United Kingdom.
The logo, FCUK, turned out to be both a blessing and a curse for the brand. In the Nineties, the company was riding high with the logo emblazoned on shirts, hoodies and caps, and it garnered a lot of media attention. But by the early Aughts, customers, wholesale clients and media outlets rejected the logo. In 2004, French Connection stopped using FCUK in advertising in the U.K. after complaints and censures from advertising watchdogs.
More recently, Marks told WWD that they were showing the collection and sent out a few FCUK sweatshirts “and we got the most unbelievable reaction to them.” They also posted a few photos and got strong reaction from a new generation of Millennials.
In their shops in England, they’ve always carried FCUK apparel, but in the U.S., they haven’t had the FCUK-logoed apparel in years, said Marks. He said Carolyn Glynos, vice president, sales and marketing at French Connection, was approached by Urban Outfitters, and French Connection thought it was a great idea. “I said, ‘you couldn’t have a better partner,’” said Marks. The range of products is going into 40 Urban Outfitters stores and will be sold at urbanoutfitters.com.
Asked what he expects the capsule to do for the brand, Marks said, “When we started, [the FCUK logo] changed our lives. I’m not suggesting it’s going to do that. You’ve got to remember, this is an audience that hasn’t seen it before,” he said, referring to the Millennial target audience.
“I think it’s with the right partner, the whole vibe is very good.” He said the FCUK logo hasn’t been seen properly in the U.S. for the last 10 years. The logo has been on a fragrance in the U.S.
Marks said that in the U.S., the French Connection brand has been doing extremely well. “We’re gaining ground every year,” he said, noting the brand is sold in retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom and online. “Here in England, we’re actually doing OK. The whole retail market is having a bit of a nightmare. We have our heads well above water, and we’re beginning to make some money,” said Marks.
The British-based brand returned to profitability for fiscal 2018.
Marks declined to discuss the sale process that the company is currently undergoing.
In French Connection’s latest financial statement, released March 12, a note from the chairman read, “In October last year, following press speculation regarding the potential sale of the Group, we announced that we were in the process of reviewing all strategic options in order to deliver maximum value for shareholders. Alongside several potential strategic options, the review includes the consideration of all types of corporate and brand transactions, including seeking offers for the Group.
“As disclosed at the time, we had commenced preliminary discussions with several interested parties and have had conversations with several other interested parties regarding the Group’s plans. The discussions are ongoing with a number of parties. We continue to expect this strategic review (including the formal sale process) to conclude during the first half of 2019 and will make further announcements when appropriate,” according to the letter.