Le Printemps revamps own fashion brand, creating Saison 1865
On September 9, Parisian department store Le Printemps introduced to its customers the result of the make-over of its private-label fashion lines, which is part of the modernisation strategy deployed by the group in March. The new label designed by Le Printemps is called Saison 1865 (referencing the year the department store was founded), and it brings under the same umbrella the group’s menswear and womenswear lines, accessories included. The Brummell brand, which used to designate the menswear line, has been abandoned, while the Au Printemps Paris brand, introduced in 2015, is now only used for home decoration articles, such as bed linen.
The aim was to create “a fully fledged fashion brand,” developed by Le Printemps’s own design office but which one day could operate independently, according to Elisabeth Miquel, market director for private labels at Le Printemps. “Saison 1865 features the main wardrobe essentials and is excellent value for money, with a directional twist in terms of volumes and fabrics. We want the label to be transgenerational, appealing to everyone, and not just to Le Printemps aficionados,” said Miquel.
As part of its rejuvenation effort, Le Printemps has made progress in the field of sustainability, after launching the ‘Unis vers le beau responsable’ (Together for positive engagement) initiative a year ago. As a result, Saison 1865 favours GOTS-certified cotton, recycled polyester and lyocell (eucalyptus cellulose), and mostly relies on Europe-based sourcing. This means the label’s positioning has gone up a notch, with price points 15% higher on average. A sweater or a vinyl skirt sells for €139, a knitted dress for €169, and a coat for €249.
“These higher prices are consistent with our sourcing quality and the current economic situation. When you adopt a strong CSR approach, you can no longer apply very low prices, and customers understand this,” said Miquel.
Brand storytelling has also been pushed a tad further, to boost the new range's visibility. The use of the French word for ‘season’ (saison) in the name of course refers to the department store’s own name (which means ‘spring’ in French), but also to seasons as in TV series, since product drops will be identified as different ‘episodes’, each of them focused on a signature element. For example, quilted fabrics, hence the trench coat available in a men’s and women’s version, worn in a video clip by a couple spending the day in Paris.
“We want to advertise clothes for everyday life, not give star status to objects,” said Stéphane Roth, managing director in marketing and communications of the Le Printemps group since the end of 2020. “[Saison 1865] is designed to refresh itself over the seasons, and to become a long-term fixture,” he added.
Distribution-wise, Saison 1865 is available at dedicated corners in Le Printemps branches (19 in France), and on the department store's e-shop, which was launched in 2020. The in-store displays showcasing the label's products are eco-designed, “using POS elements in recycled wood, paper signage, and poster displays advertising the label's brand concept,” said Roth.
Saison 1865’s launch is supported by a press campaign, via catalogues placed in magazines (among them Elle), and online initiatives such as partnerships with influencers and short videos broadcast online every week.
Giving Saison 1865 an international dimension is another growth driver for the label. Online of course, but also at Le Printemps’s forthcoming new branches, which will open in Doha, Qatar, by the end of this year, and in New York, USA, in 2024.
In the long term, could the label make its way into other distribution channels? “One day, why not, it might move beyond Le Printemps’s borders. We have designed it as a strong brand, able to expand,” said Miquel, who expects double-digit annual growth from the new label. She is also planning to extend Saison 1865's range to childrenswear, a segment in which Le Printemps does not yet commercialise private-label products.
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