John Haenraets

MILAN Les Hommes is following a development path in the wake of the return of its former chief executive officer John Haenraets, who exited the company two years ago.

The Milan-based men’s wear company, which was founded in 2009 in Antwerp by Tom Notte and Bart Vandebosch and is controlled by Flemish family holding company Palmyra Brands trough the N-Vdb vehicle, is reorganizing its internal structure, as well as revising its delivery schedules.

In particular, starting from the fall 2020 season, the brand merged its Les Hommes Urban contemporary sportswear collection into the main label, Les Hommes.

“From a creative point of view, we felt the necessity to unify the two lines into a single brand to define a clear idea of contemporary elegance, which is going to be the key element for the future of the brand,” Notte said. “We will focus on the unification of opposites, combining sport and tailoring for the creation of hybrids.”

“This idea was already in their heads and I just had to find the way to transfer it on paper,” Haenraets said. “I think it’s very important that the brand had clearly defined what it is about. And this idea of contemporary elegance will drive our business and our strategy at every level.”

In conjunction with the unification of the two brands under a single label, Les Hommes also decided to anticipate the presentation of its collections to buyers to coincide with the pre-collections seasons.

“This required a huge effort from the company to be ready so early, but I think it will pay back,” Haenraets said. “This strategy reflects our philosophy aimed at putting the clients and their needs at the center.”

Les Hommes Men's Spring 2020

Les Hommes Men’s Spring 2020  Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

In keeping with this new commercial approach, in mid-October Les Hommes flew its most important clients to Antwerp, where the brand organized an event at two-Michelin-star restaurant The Jane to present its fall 2020 collection.

“We will skip the catwalk this season and we will host a presentation for the press in Milan,” said Notte, revealing that the company is evaluating the possibility for the future to unveil the collections in different cities through innovative formats.

Reflecting the merging of the two labels, the company executed a “merchandising reengineering,” as Notte explained, revealing that the brand extended its product offering to guarantee approachable entry prices. Les Hommes collections retail from 130 euros for T-shirts to 1,600 euros for outerwear.

With Italy, followed by Belgium and the Netherlands, as its main market, Les Hommes sells its collections in about 130 stores worldwide. While it doesn’t operate e-commerce, the company is focusing on the development of tight relationships with Farfetch through marketing and digital strategies. “This is definitely a way to support our clients,” Haenraets said.

At the same time, Les Hommes, which operates stores in Milan and Antwerp, aims to open more shops in medium-size cities in Europe, as well as flagships in Paris and China.

“Finding good locations at reasonable prices is really hard,” Haenraets said. “I really think that the retail expansion is going to be one of the key drivers of our future growth.”

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