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Jérémie Le Febvre analyses the importance of Fashion Week for the brand

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Translated by

Cassidy STEPHENS

Published



Jun 23, 2023

This Thursday, the SMCP Group brand is presenting its collection for the third season running. This will be the first event for Jérémie Le Febvre, who was appointed head of Fursac last May. The executive previously worked for AMI, alongside Alexandre Mattiussi, and more recently for the Tomorrow group, where he operated A-Cold-Wall*. Wearing a thick denim jacket over a white cotton T-shirt, Le Febvre sat down over coffee with FashionNetwork.com, among the racks and moodboards in the Fursac showroom on rue Richelieu in Paris’ 2nd arrondissement, to share his vision of the brand.

Jérémie Le Febvre – Fursac

The CEO pointed out that with his arrival, there will be no cutbacks in the brand’s participation in Fashion Week: “The brand’s presence is wanted and a long-term investment on the part of the house, which began with the arrival of Gauthier in 2021. Fursac’s strategy is to assert a creative statement. So the opportunity to express this creative statement, particularly to professionals, fully justifies our participation in Fashion Weeks.”

The CEO went on to say that since its debut on the official calendar, the brand, which claims to have achieved €40 million in sales, has gained in visibility for its international ambitions. Fursac, which was acquired by the SMCP group in 2019 and has some 70 shops and corners, including a dozen abroad, is gradually making headway on the export front. It is preparing to open shops in Madrid, close to the famous Calle Serano, in Berlin, after opening in Stuttgart and Munich, and is also opening a corner at Harrods in London. The label wants to gradually expand in these markets, but is also looking at the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Portugal.

The Flagship on Richelieu in Paris – Fursac

“We take part in Fashion Weeks, bearing in mind that our approach is unique. Most of the fashion houses that take part do so because wholesale is a fundamental part of their business. This is not the case for us. Our DNA is deeply linked to physical retail. But in our international development, our aim is to speak to all types of buyers. For us, this is not a marketing stunt”. The seasonal event does however highlight Gauthier Borsarello’s work on design. The latter having incorporated more diversity into the Fursac range, historically known in France for its suits.

The challenge of alchemy between the CEO and the creative director

Jérémie Le Febvre is no stranger to the creative side of things, having launched Le Vif, with Arthur Menguy, a vintage concept store, in 2018. The CEO sees this proximity as an asset.

The previous presentation – FNW

“Whatever the size of a brand, the relationship between the general manager and the creative director, the chemistry that can be created, is the main challenge. It determines the whole dynamic. There’s nothing worse than a growing brand where the CEO and the creative director are not on the same page. Either the creative director feels that the CEO’s cursor is too businesslike and feels constrained in his creation. Or the creative director expresses himself without limits and the brand produces commercial collections that have nothing to do with business. It’s an enormous opportunity and a time saver to already know each other. Admittedly, we hadn’t worked in this kind of environment before, but what brought us together was our taste for, and even obsession with, the product.”

This positive collaboration will be reflected in the collection presented on Thursday, and will be strengthened over the coming seasons. Could Fursac swap to a runway format to further push its offer into the spotlight?

For me, any brand with a designer aspires to a moment on the catwalk,” agrees the CEO. “However, we must never disconnect ourselves from our end consumer. Organising a fashion show is on our radar. But we need to identify a format that suits us. The technical aspect of a fashion show, as defined by the federation, is interesting seeing as the message is focused and powerful over a set period of time. Coming as I do from fashion houses, I’m discovering that the presentation is a much more restrictive format. You have to create something lively for three and a half hours, and every visitor has to have the same experience at every moment. It’s a real challenge! The catwalk is a natural aspiration, but we’ll do it in a way that’s consistent with the fact that we’re a ‘direct to consumer’ brand.”

For the brand, this could mean having at least part of a see now-buy now approach, in order to bring the pieces directly to its French or European customers. Tommy Hilfiger and Boss have already explored this route. But management says that the project still needs to be perfected. Its priority, however, is to assert the brand’s position in the affordable luxury segment. Fursac was created out of its expertise in suits, and has retained this identity while exploring new product categories in recent seasons. This gradual broadening of the product range is helping to slowly change the perception of the brand in France, attracting new customers and setting the tone for its international identity.

The green leather jacket for Spring/Summer 2023 – Fursac

“We are not a designer brand, but a brand with a designer. We’re building Fursac’s desirability while remaining accessible. In fact, this is a great time for the brand. And Gauthier’s work is enabling us to transform the image. Typically, we experienced this with our green leather jacket, this summer season’s emblematic piece. It surprised people. People say, ‘That’s Fursac?!’ And that’s our strength: managing to bring together tailoring and more creative pieces. That’s where you can see the Ralph Lauren influence, where he used to work. It’s an elegant brand that speaks to a lot of people.”

In France, and more and more internationally, notably in Asia and the Americas, where it could find partners, Fursac seems more than ever destined to win over many consumers. It may not yet rival Ralph Lauren, but it does have its sights set on achieving sales of €100 million in the medium term.
 

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