Officine Générale talks about its U.S. strategy and coming to Hollywood
A few days after the opening of a first boutique in Los Angeles, in the Palisades Village in the Pacific Palisades district, Pierre Mahéo, the founder of Officine Générale, has announced that he is doubling the pace with the opening of a second store in Hollywood, in the Sycamore District. A development on the American market in line with the dynamism of the brand, supported with investments by The Untitled Group, and which represents half of the wholesale sales in the United States.
FashionNetwork: After New York, Officine Générale opened for the first time in Los Angeles, end of January. Is California a key market for your brand?
Pierre Mahéo: The good resonance of the brand with American customers visiting Paris, the good sales on our e-shop and on Mr Porter's e-shop coming from the United States, from New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the tremendous economic dynamism of the country encouraged us to open our first boutique in New York. In December 2021, after 22 months without being able to set foot in the United States due to the global pandemic, we finally opened our store. And now in Los Angeles.
FNW: You first opened in West Los Angeles, in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood. Why this choice?
PM: My strategy is to first analyze the area where we can set up shop, to measure the clientele traffic and the possible consumption routes around a potential store, those that combine a restaurant offer, brunch, especially in the United States, bars, boutiques or hotels nearby. Palisades Village was a perfect match for our development. A mall that brings together the best coffee shops like Alfred Coffee, grocery and coffee concepts like Erewhon, sushi restaurants, and a fashion offer with Bottega Veneta and, soon, Isabel Marant.
FNW: And after Pacific Palisades, you'll open in Hollywood in March: two stores in three months?
PM: I was familiar with the iconic Just One Eye store and its founder, Paola Russo, located in the North Sycamore District. We've been sold here for several seasons. On a trip last February, I was lucky enough to meet the owner of several doors in the neighborhood, who knew Officine Générale, bought our shirts, and offered me a space. Bingo, I signed.
FNW: A strategy and a clientele that are the opposite of Pacific Palisades?
PM: This area of the Sycamore District offers a perfect alternative to Pacific Palisades and has been experiencing a real dynamism for some time. Here you have Tartine, Gigi's Restaurant, Supervinyl Record Store, Jacques Marie Mage Eyewear, Galerie Half is not far away, as is Bode. I liked the architecture of the stores right away and the neighborhood life like the shopping tour was much more interesting than Melrose Place. Finally, the location is perfect for stylists we want to collaborate with who will never go all the way to Pacific Palisades to pick a dress from our collections.
FNW: A lot of brands are trying out pop-ups before opening a permanent store. Don't you?
PM: I am an anti-pop-up person. I believe that if you believe in your product, if you are sure of your investment, then you should go for it. I'm not interested in putting up three shelves and two plants for 15 days and it can be frustrating for customers. I like the idea that our customers can come to us and come back. There may be some risks with this strategy, but I take them.
FNW: Is the Officine Générale offer in your American stores the same as in Europe?
PM: The collection is the same for everyone but the selection can differ depending on the climate zone. A capsule of ski oriented pieces makes more sense in Lyon and New York than in Los Angeles or Aix-en-Provence. We also work a lot on highlighting pre-collections, and adapt our selections for wholesale.
FNW: How do you explain the American enthusiasm for Officine Générale?
PM: Officine Générale is a brand that is rooted in and inspired by Parisian style. The brand was launched around quality products, made in Europe and affordable prices. And this formula works. I don't have Gary Cooper and Clark Gable as my inspiration, but rather Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean-Pierre Léaud and Sami Frey, and this is felt in the attitude, the spirit of nonchalance and sincerity that speaks to many consumers.
FNW: How about a West Coast fashion show?
PM: I remain faithful to Paris and am very proud of what Pascal Morand, the President of the Federation of Haute Couture and Fashion, is doing. The French do not sufficiently realize the enormous influence of Parisian fashion houses on fashion and on our economy. LVMH is exemplary in this respect. By opening Dior boutiques on Avenue Montaigne and on the Champs-Elysées, the colors of France are carried high.
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