Vanessa Bruno’s new integrated collection is a success
Are second lines going out of fashion? Parisian designer Vanessa Bruno thinks it may well be the case. Having taken the decision to close down her second line, Athé, from the Spring/Summer 2018 season, Bruno is keen to infuse renewed energy and a breath of fresh air into the label she created in 1996. She therefore chose to integrate the more casual, entry-level items of Athé into the main Vanessa Bruno collection, broadcasting a clearer message to its customers.
"Given all that's going on in fashion, and the plethora of online [labels], I think we need to focus on one single message, on one single identity. Having two labels under the same name has become surplus to requirements," said the founder and director of the eponymous label. The change took place softly, said Bruno, starting with the closing down of the Athé retail corners, and keeping the lines of communications with clients open.
As the contemporary fashion world is hurtling along at breathless speed, something Bruno is trying to resist, the designer is convinced that creating two collections at once was beginning to feel repetitive. "It's time to be sensible again, to calm down, for the well-being of my staff and for my creativity, and to have the space to design nice clothes for my customers. Our ethos is to find a new balance by designing collections created with our customers in mind," said Bruno. By telling only one story at a time, the label wants to put its values centre stage again, and encourage its loyal clientèle to travel along the same road.
Vanessa Bruno works with approximately 300 retailers worldwide, a solid foundation it wants to strengthen even further, seeing the reception of the first 'unified' collection. For the Spring/Summer 2018, the designer announced a 15% increase in the label's wholesale business. "We no longer adopt a differentiated approach - we don't say 'you cannot order this' any longer - it's better for everybody. Clients who focused on Athé are now comfortable with the casual items, but they have finally discovered other stuff from the main collection they didn't dare approach before," she added.
The label is also sold via eight directly owned stores, one of them in London, and a franchising network in South Korea, and isn't prioritising any channel in particular for its future expansion. "I think nowadays it’s essential to have a global approach, combining the expectations of the wholesale, retail and e-tail channels, the latter growing 35% each year," said Vanessa Bruno. The designer did not disclose the label's revenue, simply stating it has "remained stable" in the last few years. She did mention that the accessories' share of the business is 35%, notably thanks to the success enjoyed by her handbags.
"We are lucky our accessories find their own loyal following without us needing to go to great lengths to market them, or to devise major launch campaigns. It was the case with the Cabas handbag, still a worldwide success, with the Lune and now the Gemma, a new pouch bag which has been spontaneously adopted by consumers. I think the key is simply to offer customers products which are in synch with their lifestyle," she said.
Geographically, the label's leading market remains Europe, ahead of the USA, and the former is also the region where Vanessa Bruno is growing faster. In particular, the label's attention is focused on northern European countries, and the opening of a new store in the region could be on the cards.
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