The brand unveiled its new, expansive headquarters in Milan on Friday, and to mark the occasion revealed bullish plans encompassing the launch of an ambitious Plein hospitality project in the city; the relaunch of the Plein Sport line; new licensing deals and global store openings; significant distribution plans in China, and an overall enhancement of the women’s wear business to rebalance the label’s offering, among other initiatives.
It was a lot to digest in a strategy aimed at further scaling the business, which expects to close the year with 200 million euros in revenues.
Many of the plans revealed still felt like a work-in-progress, starting from the showroom that was undergoing some final touches, including work on the expansive terrace and separate 1,076-square-foot structure that will showcase the Plein Sport range.
“This space will definitely be ready by Dec. 15,” assured Plein, founder and chief executive officer of the Switzerland-based luxury group that also owns the Billionaire label. Plein explained that on that date the activewear collection will be presented to buyers before it will be officially unveiled with a press presentation in January.
Introduced in 2016, Plein Sport was suspended since, as reported, the designer claimed its success cannibalized and interfered with the perception of the brand’s main line. As a result, the company shut down half of the 30 stand-alone Plein Sport stores while the others were converted into Philipp Plein locations.
“But we’ve received a big request from the market, also with offers for licensing deals to take over the Sport label. After internal discussions we decided to do it ourselves, so we’re bringing the line back,” said the designer.
If the new Plein Sport collection was still under wraps, accessories from the main line’s fall 2022 line were on full display at the showroom, as the company started its sales campaign this week, welcoming back most of its buyers for physical appointments.
“Accessories in particular are a very important business for us, they account for 25 percent to 27 percent of our total revenues, and they keep growing,” said Plein, underscoring that footwear is driving the sales.
Footwear, handbags and baseball caps were showcased next to the inaugural efforts of the licensing agreements the brand has inked over the past months with De Rigo for eyewear and with WorldTime Watches & Jewelry for watches at the three-story showroom, which is located in Via Burlamacchi, in the southern part of Milan.
Designed by the JSC Studio founded by architect Jolanda Sbrana, the 16,146-square-foot space was dominated by marble, mirrors and glass surfaces while here and there walls and floors were spray-painted with graffiti. All these elements ran through different areas, including the rooms showcasing the flamboyant women’s and men’s ready-to-wear; a corner dedicated to denim, and a small bistro restaurant with walls covered with greenery punctuated by a massive logo. A hall with wood flooring and a separate entrance displayed the Billionaire offering.
Previously the showroom for the Dirk Bikkembergs brand, the Philipp Plein Group acquired the real estate at the end of July, replacing its former outpost in central Milan’s Via dei Giardini that shut down last year.
Moving to the city’s southern part, the company is mirroring the migration of other fashion groups. As reported, earlier this year LVMH Italia signed a pre-letting agreement with real estate company Covivio for a 10-year lease on offices in the Symbiosis business district, which is located next to Fondazione Prada and a 20-minute walk from Plein’s new outpost.
But the German designer is not ready to leave central Milan just yet. He has signed a deal to open a Plein hotel in Via Manin, in the historic Palazzo Melzi d’Eril building that formerly housed Krizia’s legendary headquarters. Plein has inked a deal with a new entertainment company that has rented the space and will operate the brand’s hospitality project under license. The location is slated to include a hotel with about 18 rooms, the Philipp’s restaurant and club, La Jungle de Plein bistro restaurant, The Skull bar and a private cinema for small screenings and accessible by members only.
To mark the start of the renovation, Plein threw a party themed “Noir Christmas” on Friday at the venue, which is slated to officially open its doors to guests next year.
The designer said he will use the space to host his namesake brand’s runway show next February. Given Plein’s knack for staging over-the-top bashes during Milan Fashion Week, the hospitality project will be designed to be flexible to accommodate these events and change its look seasonally, according to shows’ themes.
There will be a continual element, however, thanks to the brand’s new home line. The group inked another license with luxury furniture company Eichholtz for the development of a home collection under the Philipp Plein banner. As part of the deal, which marks a return to the beginnings of Plein’s career in the design world, the first furniture range will be unveiled during Milan Design Week in April 2022.
“I partnered with Eichholtz because it works with stock — in an industry in which you usually have to wait three months to receive a sofa you ordered — and it’s very aggressive with its distribution’s expansion,” said Plein, who is also aiming to open two stores dedicated to home collections next year, one in Miami and one in Russia.
Overall, the company is set to accelerate the expansion of its distribution network with more than 25 store openings planned for 2022. Among the most prominent operations, the brand is in exclusive talks to take over the former Michael Kors flagship in London’s Old Bond Street to replace its New Bond Street unit that shut down.
After moving its Chinese offices from Hong Kong to Shanghai, the group also intends to accelerate in that market, where it foresees significant growth potential. Philipp Plein currently counts seven units between flagships and outlets in Mainland China, but plans to have 16 directly operated doors in 2022.
This will boost local sales, which at the moment account for 5.4 percent out of the brand’s total revenues, putting China after the U.S. — which accounts for 20 percent of total revenues — Russia, Italy, Germany and Spain. But Plein said he expects China to rank third by the end of 2022.
Overall, the brand is available at 730 doors worldwide, including 40 directly operated stores, 30 outlets, 40 franchisees and a presence in 620 multibrand retailers.
Thanks to the partnership with Italian manufacturer De Rigo, the label’s eyewear offering is slated to reach 1,000 doors next year, with the U.S. projected to account for 24 percent of eyewear sales.
As for the watches, which WorldTime Watches & Jewelry develops and crafts in collaboration with specialist Timex Group, the pieces will be available in 1,500 doors worldwide in 2022. Additionally, Plein said that he will launch a jewelry collection in the foreseeable future.
Other licenses include the five-year deal inked with Altana Group for children’s wear collections earlier this year. In 2019, the brand also entered the beauty arena with two scents developed under Philipp Plein Parfums, a separate company established in Geneva under the umbrella of the Brands Beyond Beauty holding, which sold 1,000 pieces in one week on the brand’s online store.
The e-commerce platform continues to be a key driver for the company, which was among the first fashion players to accept cryptocurrency as a method of payment. Sales originated online for the Philipp Plein brand increased 16 percent compared to last year, with the average basket standing at around 800 euros. This month alone, the brand registered 11 million euros in online sales, with orders mainly hailing from the U.S., Russia, Germany and Italy and, in terms of categories, men’s sneakers and down jackets listed as most sought-after items.
“Today men’s wear accounts for 65 percent out of our total sales, while when we started it was 10 percent. We’re now looking to relaunch women’s wear to rebalance the offering and improve its performance, with the goal to have this part accounting for 40 percent of our revenues next year,” said Plein.
To this end, the brand is working on the communications front, tapping key personalities as faces of the brand. Already fronting the video that introduced the Philipp Plein spring 2022 collection earlier this year, Megan Fox will appear in the eyewear campaign photographed by Steven Klein that will begin to roll out Dec. 1.
Also next week, the company will shoot the campaign for its pre-fall 2022 collection and has tapped supermodel Eva Herzigová.
Brick-and-mortar stores will mirror this commitment in enhancing the women’s wear assortment with a new interior concept that will debut next month. Philipp Plein has relocated its flagship in Barcelona, Spain, now standing next to the city’s Mandarin Oriental hotel. The unit will open next month with a new design in sync with the Milan showroom blueprint and with a different color palette set against the men’s and women’s offerings.
The new concept will be replicated in the Milan store, too, which will temporarily close for renovation next summer and relaunch just in time for fashion week in September 2022.