LONDON — Heritage label Saint James, which is based in Normandy, France, is ready to grow in Britain, with plans to launch a dedicated U.K. web site in March and expand its retail network in the region.
The company’s president Luc Lesencal said he sees opportunity in a younger generation of shoppers and in all the London tourists, who of late have been attracted by the weak pound. “In the long term, I see the British economy continuing to be strong. We will have to increase prices, given the current decrease of the pound against the euro, but we will split these increases between the European and U.K. prices in order to support our retailers.”
The company, which has operated since 1889 and is known for its Breton striped clothing, started exporting to Japan 30 years ago. It went on to establish a strong presence in Japan, Korea and the U.S., and Lesencal said London is a central hub that draws tourists from these markets.
Lesencal said he’s also aiming to speak to a younger consumer who wants well-priced, quality products and is interested in a label’s origins. “People now want to know what they are buying, where a piece of clothing is made, and generally they prefer if it’s made in Europe. We recently opened our Normandy factory to the public, and we’ve seen a great response from U.K. customers coming to visit,” Lesencal added.
The company has worked on a number of collaborative projects as a part of its efforts to speak to a younger consumer, including capsule ranges with French labels Claudie Pierlot and Marie Marot and a longterm partnership with J. Crew, producing its Breton striped collections.
A dedicated U.K. site will launch in March and a standalone store in central London, near Oxford Street, is in the works. There are 15 stores that carry Saint James, including London retailers Arthur Beale in Covent Garden and Archie Foal in Chelsea. The company’s focus is to work with independent retailers and sit next to other casualwear, heritage brands such as Barbour and Lacoste.
“We need wholesale accounts; people who don’t know the brand need an outlet to first touch and feel the product in order to be introduced to it,” said Lesencal.