Robert Clergerie focuses on heritage and ‘entry luxury’ positioning, will open Paris and New York stores
Robert Clergerie appointed a new CEO, Perry Oosting, last April, and a new Creative Director, David Tourniaire-Beauciel in May. The French luxury footwear label, owned by the First Heritage Brands investment fund, which also has Delvaux and Sonia Rykiel in its portfolio, is now busy on a spate of expansion projects.
"I really believe [Tourniaire-Beauciel] is the right designer for us," said Perry Oosting in an interview to FashionNetwork.com in Milan. "First of all, because he hails from Romans-sur-Isère, where the label was born in 1981, though it has been active there with its workshops since 1895. Robert Clergerie isn't just another brand in the portfolio Tourniaire-Beauciel is active on - a list which includes also Martin Margiela, Chloé, Ferragamo, Givenchy and Balenciaga - he is proud of working for this company because of his provenance. And secondly, because throughout his career Tourniaire-Beauciel has truly been successful whenever he followed his own personal path and sought to innovate, something which we need, though always respecting our brand's past and heritage," added Oosting.
"Footwear is a highly technical product category, very different from ready-to-wear apparel, especially if you manufacture your shoes in-house," said Oosting. "In the past, Robert Clergerie shoes built their success on a high degree of innovation, both in terms of style and construction, as well as on their unconventional yet quintessentially French elegance, targeting independently minded women looking for comfort and aesthetic satisfaction. We want the brand's new creations to be rooted in these design features, albeit revised in a more creative, innovative direction. It isn't simply a matter of slavishly replicating an old model and changing its colour, but of adding an extra element of daring and freshness to our creations, while always maintaining their hallmark comfort and French-style elegance. We call it 'Freedom of Movement', defining it as the feminine aesthetic of a shoe which can be happily worn from morning until night. This is the concept we want to pursue with David and our new creative team."
This new direction, according to Oosting, will not modify the brand's price positioning. "If we take a look at the premium footwear market, we can identify a luxury design segment and that of contemporary labels. We position ourselves in the 'entry luxury' segment, with products which are a little more avant-garde than usual, priced from €210-250 up to a maximum of €590, with the core of our range approximately at around €340-345. This is how we add more value to our products: by positioning ourselves as a luxury label while sticking to the previous price positioning."
Perry Oosting also talked about the brand's retail strategy. "We will open two new stores in iconic locations: a 50 m2 one at 326 rue Saint-Honoré, facing Colette (perhaps not for long, we will be facing Saint-Laurent if the rumours are confirmed), which will be inaugurated before 26th September and the start of the Paris Fashion Week, introducing a new retail concept; then in October we will open a 65 m2 store at 901 Madison Avenue and 72nd Street in New York, in front of Acne Studios, again featuring our new retail concept. These new openings will showcase David Tourniaire-Beauciel's exclusive new designs, and will give us the opportunity to introduce our new digital strategy, with a greater emphasis on social media."
These two stores will complete Robert Clergerie's retail landscape, currently made up of 15 monobrand stores: one in Madrid, Geneva, New York (where the existing one on 62nd Street will migrate to the new location on Madison) and Los Angeles, two in London, five in Paris (three shop-in-shops and two monobrand stores) and another four across France, including two brand outlets. Though no further openings are currently on the cards, the brand will gradually introduce the new retail concept throughout. It hinges on women's footwear, which accounts for 90% of Robert Clergerie's revenue, but men's shoes will be also be contemplated, as David Tourniaire-Beauciel will soon present a men's line with a new design. "Women's shoes are our focus though, said Oosting. For the future, we are looking at the option of creating an accessories line, but there is nothing definitive yet."
Europe and the USA are the label's main target markets. The USA currently account for 45% of revenue, and Europe does most of the rest, led by France, Italy, Spain and the UK, all worth more or less the same, with Germany slightly below, though still with great potential. Robert Clergerie's presence in Japan and the Middle East is growing, while the rest of Asia is not currently a priority for the brand, which is keen to move selectively and gradually.
"We are available at 240 multibrand retail outlets worldwide, including e-tailers and brick-and-mortar retailers selling apparel as well as footwear. We have 210 employees at our Romans-sur-Isère headquarters in France, and we manufacture 100% in France, with great emphasis on quality control. Having David Tourniaire-Beauciel as our in-house designer is crucial for us, to support an output that is produced entirely internally," concluded Perry Oosting.
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