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Translated by
Roberta HERRERA
Published
Apr 5, 2022
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A dose of irreverence to revitalize The Kooples

Translated by
Roberta HERRERA
Published
Apr 5, 2022

There’s nothing better than a renewed sense of irreverence. Marie Schott, who has been CEO of The Kooples for the past 13 years, took the time to assess the state of the French accessible luxury brand. The verdict is clear: “We have to stop trying to please everyone,” she said during the Paris-based label’s Fall/Winter 2022 show held at the firm’s private mansion in the 17th district of the French capital.

“The brand is very successful in France, with a high level of recognition. But the reality is that it no longer resonates with its original customers. The brand wanted to go mainstream. And we have to accept the fact that we got lost along the way. It still has that rock chic look from the 2000s. But nowadays, dandy rock is no longer inspirational. We’re going to kill rock and proclaim that Rock is Dead.”


Marie Schott, CEO of The Kooples, and Capucine Safyurtlu, creative director - The Kooples


The statement was crude and the language of former head of Etam, who was poached from the MF Brands group while she was relaunching its lingerie brand Anashaf founded in 2008 by the Elisha brothers, was straightforward. This choice was made in order to break away from its sober brand image. The red-painted “Fuck” sprawled across the The Kooples logo cannot have represented this internal revolution any better. A campaign dedicated to this rebranding will launch in September, allowing the brand to challenge consumers without focusing on one specific product. The announcement of the rebranding will be preceded by re-worked products.

Capucine Safyurtlu was made in charge of the creative direction for the label six months ago. The former creative director of Stella Luna, who has a background in publishing and styling at Vogue and Numero, designed the Pre-Fall collection, arriving to stores in June, as well as the Fall/Winter collection. “I was inspired by the history of the brand and its roots,” explained the designer. “I had to dive into the brand DNA and connect it with today’s demands. The brand is not damaged, it is still beloved by people. And is also of interest to the younger generation. This notion of either being loved or hated opened up a whole world of possibilities for me.” 

What does this new brand image look like? Certainly not neutral. The brand has cultivated its renowned heritage with a well-rounded offering for men and women and a range of styles that complement each other. The Kooples’ neo-rebel wears a leather jacket, but is also not afraid to slip on a pair of vinyl pants, a black and white floral print shirt, a puffy feather down jacket, a chalk stripe suit or a hoodie with The Kooples logo sprawled allover. The female counterpart dons an imposing faux fur coat with a red and yellow floral print, slim leather jackets, slit skirts, and sexy tops. Black and leopard are indispensable this season for both him and her. “It’s important to be daring and ostentatious, offering ultra-sexy dresses, lots of bling, and offbeat humor,” said Schott. “Luxury houses have changed. They have dared to reconsider their approach. In the 2000s, accessible luxury brands brought something fresh to the table, and I believe that we must once again be willing to experiment with clothing. If we are in this business, it’s to enjoy it.”


The Kooples


The Kooples, which has redesigned its logo reflecting its new brand image that will be released in the coming months, will still have to win over customers in order to revive itself. The brand has seen its sales fall below 200 million euros, while in 2019 they were over 220 million. This year, the ambitions set are to get back on track and to begin attracting new customers at the end of the year. Its new flagship store on the Champs-Elysees, number 95, where the MF Brands flagship brand Lacoste is currently located, should allow it to further expand its “reset”.

“We are not going to do everything at once,” indicated the CEO. “First of all, we need to strengthen our position in France, in our market. We have eliminated a number of products that generate turnover in order to have an offering that is consistent with the story we want to develop. But this comes with consequences. The number of items and prices that soared in 2018 were pioneered by my predecessor (Romain Guinier, head of the brand from 2019 to 2021). The Kooples then stopped selling products priced over €1000. For Fall/Winter, we will be on average 20% cheaper than in 2018, with entry-level products in all categories, such as dresses for less than €200. However, we must also achieve a certain level of profitability per square meter in the store. This means that our offering must be relevant. This should allow us to consider international expansion.”


FNW


The other pending issue for the brand is its range of accessories. Safyurtlu created a new boot model for men and women, with heel heights of 3.5 and 5.5 centimeters and offered in different materials (including in leopard print pony skin), which could soon become the brand’s new signature, along with a pair of ranger boots in classic leather, featuring black zippers and notched soles. The brand is not introducing a new iconic bag for the moment. The Kooples will build on the success of its Emily handbag and will launch a clutch version sometime in the coming months, as well as thin and thick chain strap options. If the brand manages to find the right pace, the new products will follow suit. 

But the stakes are high considering the ultra-competitive market. The Kooples will have to lure customers to its corners and stores at a time when retail footfall is generally low. Its rebellious approach could work to its advantage. Whether irreverence pays off remains to be seen. 
 

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