Printemps is investing intensely in the flourishing men’s wear sector. Yet unlike most department stores that are implementing similar plans, the French house has a storied history dating to 1930, the year its private men’s wear label Brummell sprang to life.
Printemps reintroduced the dormant label named after Beau Brummell, billed as England’s first dandy, in 2011 to solid commercial success. According to Karen Vernet, Printemps’ general merchandise manager of men’s apparel, homewares and private label, Brummell’s sales are growing at a double-digit pace, year-on-year.
The retailer will start a renovation at its Paris flagship next year at an estimated cost of close to 100 million euros ($111.66 million) that will increase the space available for men’s ready-to-wear and accessories by 50 percent to about 113,000 square feet.
Paolo de Cesare, Printemps’ chief executive officer, said “We want to give men the most beautiful building in the world and we have it on the outside, but on the inside, the store was very tired.”
And while Lord Byron lauded his peer Brummell’s appearance for its “exquisite propriety,” Vernet praised the line’s value, thanks to its use of high-end Italian fabrics, elegant design “with a casual twist” and accessible prices.
Starting at 395 euros, or $445, for a two-piece suit, the label’s mission is to be affordable formalwear.
Ad campaigns of yesteryear paint the picture of a laid-back gent with a predilection for double-breasted coats, oversize lapels and elongated suits with bulky shoulders and a fitted waist. Slogans on vintage posters lure: “Brummel will dress you as impeccably as bespoke.”
In 1952, the brand lent its name to Printemps’ entire men’s department, which a decade later became Europe’s largest store for men’s wear.
Today, the label, which is stocked in 17 Printemps locations, targets “a cool man from the street,” said Vernet. “A man looking for a simple wardrobe, smart and urban, [that] should respond to different actions of the day: business, weekend, events.”