Bonpoint, the children’s luxury label with the proverbial Parisian chic attached to its price tag, is eager to speed up growth so it can target a more mature consumer as it turns 40.
The brand’s upcoming show, slated for Saturday, is to give a glimpse of the strategy via a larger teenage collection along with the company’s savoir faire. Cue French fine lace and hand-sewn seams, Bonpoint’s signature pleated embroideries (also called smocking), which are handmade by artisans in Madagascar, as well as its exquisite patternmaking.
“For every size that is designed in our studio, we do a separate pattern by a professional patternmaker in our Paris atelier. From the sketch to the actual garment — the process is the same as in couture. And I think this is what makes a difference,” said Sabine Brunner, the label’s chief executive officer, noting a 20-percent jump in sales since the beginning of this year.
Bonpoint is what Brunner calls “an emotional brand,” which is part of its success. “You step in and you feel reassured. It’s like coming home.”
The executive suggested that the brand has not lost any of its charm through the decades. “In the Eighties, when I was in private school in France, girls wore uniforms. Everything was navy blue and white, yet you had to have something from Bonpoint. It was a statement.”
One day, after having traded Europe for Hong Kong (where her children grew up, far away from the temptations of French luxury wear), and back in France again, she said her daughter came home from school and said: “Maman, you have to go to this shop. It’s called Bonpoint.”
Brunner said it was a testament to the power of the brand. “It has surely evolved in product and taste, from more classic to bohemian chic, but it’s still a statement. And that’s because it doesn’t follow any trends.”
Today, the label counts 112 stores in 29 countries. “The focus is not on expanding the network of stores but maximizing existing stores and growing business through new categories. There is a lot of potential,” Brunner said.
For one, there is YAM, the label’s teenage line, which is a hit with 16-year-olds as well as their mothers. YAM stands for Y’en a Marre, or “I’ve had enough.”
“We would like to gain market share in this area because if you look at it, there is not a lot of offer in this age group. Of course, you have the high-street brands, but their sizes and styles often don’t fit. It’s a tricky position. We do real patterns for real teenagers, including leather jackets.”
On the other end of the spectrum, the company is keen to develop the newborn category and launch a home deco line. “We already have clothes and accessories in the segment, but we can go further, propose strollers and bed linens. We could help with the decoration of the baby room,” Brunner said, giving the brand two to three years to reach these goals.
Bonpoint’s transformation into a full-fledged lifestyle brand is perhaps most evident with the label’s flourishing beauty business, comprising fragrance and skin care.
“Beauty accounts for only 6 to 7 percent of total business, but the numbers have doubled this season,” Brunner said. “We are just getting started.”
Bonpoint entered the beauty scene in 1986 with a namesake eau de toilette created by Annick Goutal, sister of Marie-France Cohen, one of Bonpoint’s founders. That line was subsequently expanded to include a nonalcohol-based scent and a perfumed candle.
In 2011, the brand opted to grow its beauty offer even further with face and body care formulated for children, babies and mothers. It began with four products adapted to sensitive skin.
“In view of their success, we wanted to add four more,” said Laetitia Le Roy, business unit manager of cosmetics at Bonpoint, who added that the current bestseller in the skin-care collection is the face cream. It’s so popular, in fact, that there is a two-jar limit per purchase.
The treatment range, which in late August was expanded with a hand cream, is to introduce a foaming face wash, gentle lotion and facial fluid by year-end.
All of the skin-care products are rich in natural ingredients, with each having in its formula three flower extracts — orange blossom, cherry blossom and cotton flower, chosen for their cosmetic properties as well as their link with the brand — plus other ingredients. (Cotton flower, for instance, repairs and nourishes skin while giving a nod to the fabric often used in Bonpoint’s clothing.)
Brunner said skin care is having a run in Asia, especially, and will roll out to more beauty shelves in leading department stores this fall, thanks to the new products. Bonpoint fragrance and cosmetics are already available in some Joyce Beauty locations in Asia, and in Galeries Lafayette and Printemps in Paris, for instance.
As for the anniversary fashion collection, which is to be showcased on VIP kids at the Orangerie of Paris’ Luxembourg Gardens, it will feature a number of capsules built around the label’s signature styles such as the Paysanne dress, its Liberty prints and signature milky white hue.
A 250-page tome telling Bonpoint’s history through 40 chapters ranging from savoir faire and French chic, is to hit stores in November, while a limited-edition of Eau de Bonpoint is slated for Christmas.