Courrèges returns to New York retail scene after nearly 40 years
When Miguel Alberto Enamorado, accessories director of Harper's Bazaar, purchased a dark green Courrèges jacket at approximately 11:30 a.m. on September 8, he became the first customer in 38 years to buy a piece of the brand in a New York Courrèges store. Now, thanks to the leadership of CEO Adrien Da Maia and artistic director Nicolas Di Felice, the brand is full steam on a brand comeback that debuted when Di Felice showed his debut collection for the brand.
"Courrèges has an amazing history with the U.S. Andre Courrèges said he almost felt more American than French because, in 1961, the American press and buyers got it right away and picked up the first collection, which was a revolutionary new style,' Da Maia told FashionNetwork.com in a private interview.
According to the 35-year-old CEO, when he and Di Felice arrived at the brand in March 2021 and September 2021, respectively, the first order of business was to revamp the Paris flagship store even before the new artistic director would show his first collection for the house
"Retail was always key to our strategy: building a community around the new collection. The U.S. market has been performing well for us," he continued, adding they looked to the historical aspects of the brand in other revamping efforts. "Historically, as a couture house, Courrèges is a beautiful story and has not been told in the right way in the 21st century."
To tell the story stateside, New York was a critical stop. Between 1974 and 1984, the brand had a flagship on 57th Street (other previous locations included Beverly Hills, which opened first in 1973, and Houston, Texas, a very apropos place given the city's connection to space travel).
The affable young executive had lived in New York from 2016 to 2019, when he led the French designer speaker brand, Devialet, so he was familiar with Manhattan location dynamics.
"We wanted a downtown place because it echoes our existing customer. We love this corner; it's very open and with large see-through welcoming windows. It's not the typical long and narrow Soho store," he said of the store that sits at the corner of Grand Street and Mercer Street and counts Kenzo Paris, Alexander Wang, and Ganni as its other prime corner real estate neighbors.
Here Da Maia hopes to indoctrinate a new generation of customers on the brand's legacy.
"A lot of 25-year-olds don't know the history, so the beauty is watching them discover and get excited about the brand in steps and to understand what Courrèges gave to fashion in terms modernism, 1960s-style futurism which has been so influential," he said.
To that end, he recites the look beyond just the miniskirt; it was the thigh-high and low-heeled boots, the cropped vinyl jacket, jumper, and pants, the form-fitting rib knits, and more, all styles that he and Di Felice have found relevant today for the Reedition pieces, a concept that grew out of the demand for the styles on the vintage market.
This group is on heavy rotation for the first drop at the New York store. "When he created his 'Couture Future' ready-to-wear collection in 1967—following the incredible blast of the 1965 'Space Age' collection—what he had in mind when designing the clothes was what girls would wear in the 2000s," noted Da Maia.
The store also harkens some of that space-age feel. Molded circular seating and fixtures sprout seamlessly from the floor with plenty of mirrors, a round circular desk, and curved racks displaying mainly reedition pieces in a rainbow assortment on one side and a black and dark hunter-green color story on the other for both men and women.
Da Maia's plans for brand growth are as everlasting as Andre Courrèges' designs. This plan is supported by the brand's owner, Groupe Artemis, the Pinault family-investment portfolio.
"This gives us a lot of freedom to build the brand outside of the group; it didn't change the position of putting creativity at the forefront and giving time and long-term perspective of building a brand," he explained.
Sustainability is at the forefront of any long-term growth plan. He and Di Felice also consider and receive support from Kering's 'Material Innovation Lab' in sourcing conscious fabric choices, such as the GOTS-certified cotton base and 70 percent vegetable-based vinyl in the 'Reedition' pieces. "We are trying to get to 100 percent. We aren't super loud and talk about it all the time, but we try our best to be eco-conscious."
While accessories perform well, ready-to-wear is the most significant share of the business.
"It's a couture house by nature, so it makes sense to build our clothing first. The cut-and-sew vinyl pieces are unique and don't exist elsewhere on the market. Da Maia said New York customers could expect to see frequent rotations of refreshed product.
Though excited to build a world of Courrèges, the CEO understands part of the U.S. success story was built on retail partnerships.
"Retailers like Bergdorf Goodman were key to developing the business abroad."
Currently, the French brand is carried at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Maxfield Los Angeles, and The Webster. Another famous New York retailer Bloomingdale's hosted an early form of a pop-up in 1991, the only Courrèges branded retail space once the U.S. stores closed and before the 2021 relaunch.
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