LONDON — Escada has been in the process of refreshing its image, having recruited designer Niall Sloan and introduced a new store concept on London’s Sloane Street last year.
Now, to mark this shift in direction and the brand’s 40th anniversary, the German label is planning its first runway show during New York Fashion Week, in a bid to highlight its international appeal and speak to a broader audience.
“Given all our activities around the refreshing of our brand, we felt that this was a fantastic moment to go out and join an international fashion week. We decided to go to New York because the U.S. is one of our core markets; we have been there since day one. We have a strong retail presence in the country and very strong relationships with some of the best department stores,” said Iris Epple-Righi, the brand’s chief executive officer. “We need to show the brand to a wider audience, which we wouldn’t have been able to [achieve] if we were to only do a presentation.”
The show — which will host buyers, press, as well as the brand’s most important customers from across the globe — will also offer Sloan a platform to showcase his vision for the label.
“You will see a heritage-influenced collection, but still bringing it forward to the 21st century. This has been Niall’s roadmap since he started,” added Epple-Righi, highlighting bold color and prints as some of the signature elements the brand wants to reinforce in its new ranges.
For his debut collection, Sloan introduced an Eighties-inspired lineup with an array of colorful, vintage-inspired Escada logos, alongside more modernist rainbow-hued coats and tailored suits.
Another strategic opportunity the catwalk presents for the brand is to shine the spotlight on its growing accessories business, including its new “Heart” bags, a collection of leather cross-body bags featuring gold heart clasps, referencing a heart-shaped perfume bottle that Escada used in the past.
“We are really focusing on the growth of our accessories at the moment. We have had a very strong scarves and belts business for a long time, but we really see a big growth potential for shoes and bags,” said Epple-Righi.
She added that she aims to expand the brand’s wholesale business, being a strong believer in the continued influence of the department store, while also optimizing the brand’s existing retail footprint.
“Growing our wholesale business is definitely on our priority list. I don’t believe this discussion around the demise of department stores. They are still doing a great job,” said Epple-Righi. “We’re always looking for retail opportunities around the globe. But we are really happy with our current store base; we have a strong base in the U.S. and on the best streets in all the key cities in Europe in the best streets basically.”