PARIS— As it celebrates its 120th anniversary, French children’s wear brand Petit Bateau is freshening up.
The label this week unveiled its fall men’s and women’s adult collection, the first designed by its new artistic directors, Gildas Loaëc and Masaya Kuroki of hip label Maison Kitsuné. The duo had previously designed two capsule collections for Petit Bateau, including a trio of anniversary pieces that went on sale mid-February.
“It’s all about putting a new twist on tradition, with a modern rewriting of iconic products,” said Christian Blanckaert, chairman of Petit Bateau. “It’s good to celebrate this milestone with a jolt of electricity.”
Loaëc said that for their debut collection for the brand, Maison Kitsuné worked on iconic products like sailor-striped anoraks and jersey pieces, tweaking them to add a streetwear edge. Dotted throughout are logos culled from the archives, alongside fashion-forward pieces like cropped duffel coats.
“It’s not about crazy upheaval. It’s more about updating fabric weights and fits,” Loaëc said. “We want to bring a hint of cool to the collections and prompt people who regularly visit the brand into making impulse buys.”
Maison Kitsuné, whose activities range from clothing to music and interior design, is expanding not only its global presence, but also its range of activities. It recently opened a store in Tokyo incorporating the first Café Kitsuné, and Loaëc said they plan to open a second Café Kitsuné at an undisclosed location in Paris.
Nathalie Lempereur, director of collections at Petit Bateau, said the designers were brought in to make thebrand relevant to young mothers with fresh colors and shapes. “It’s a much more contemporary silhouette which draws on our roots and has a very strong identity,” she said.
Petit Bateau is also planning a series of events to mark this year’s anniversary.
On April 17, it will turn over its store in the French capital’s first arrondissement to children’s illustrator Hervé Tullet, who will redecorate the space with the help of a group of kids. From April 18 to May 4, it will turn into a workshop where customers can have a Tullet design of their choice transferred onto Petit Bateau clothes.
On May 13, Petit Bateau will unveil an exhibition of photographs by Stéphane Remael in Troyes, featuring workers from the local factory where it develops its products and weaves and dyes a large proportion of its jersey fabrics.
As it eyes international expansion, Petit Bateau intends to remain primarily a children’s clothes and underwear brand, Blanckaert emphasized.
The company posted revenues of around 300 million euros, or $386 million, in 2012, up more than 4 percent from the previous year. “In a difficult context, we had a very positive 2012, but obviously we are now facing a difficult 2013,” he said, noting that the late arrival of spring in Europe dampened sales in the first quarter.
Europe, including France, accounts for 65 percent of sales, according to Blanckaert, who noted that the brand has a strong presence in Italy, Germany, Spain and Belgium, in addition to Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
“The challenge today is to develop our digital strategy and conquer new territories,” he said. “We are looking at the whole world, with no particular geographical focus. We can sell Petit Bateau in South America or anywhere else. We have been established for 120 years and I think that in 120 years, it will be a global brand.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast