Philippe Model, with apparel launch, targeting 20% growth in 2022
Philippe Model, which has just debuted an apparel collection, is targeting a 20% plus growth for 2022, as the brand rebounds carefully from the pandemic.
Founded back in 1981 by the renowned hatter Philippe Model, whose creations would appear on the runways of fashion greats like Jean-Paul Gaultier, Claude Montana, Issey Miyake and Thierry Mugler, the brand is today essentially a footwear business.
However, its genderless collection should change all that. Designed in Italy, but manufactured in Portugal and Romania, its sporty mono-color looks a smart addition to the marque’s product array.
Launched with a See Now Buy Now collection, the fashion plays with volumes and high-quality fabrics; and is genderless as guys and gals get the same materials and color cards. Priced at €80 to €120 for a T-shirt; sweaters from €170 to €220; trousers around €240 and jackets at up to €350. The house sells the collection via its top boutiques, or around 40 doors; and plans to double that to about 100 accounts in summer 2023.
Today, the brand is based in Milan, and controlled by 21 Invest, a fund founded by Alessandro Benetton, along with two minority investors. Model plays no active role and has no stake but “is a friend of the house,” explains Global Sales Director Robert Martin Kimberger.
Last year, Philippe Model scored annual sales of some €35 million, a small-to-medium enterprise that is happy profitable.
“We’d love double-digit growth with a 2 at the front, that’s what we are aiming for!” smiles Kimberger over coffee in Philippe Model’s Paris showroom on Rue Royale.
Last year, in a courageous move, it gave its retailers more margin, just when the effect of Covid led many people to demand discounting.
“But we were determined to maintain a good price business. We understood our clients needed a little more mark-up. Many companies in the luxury segment have done the opposite. But our strategy was well-perceived by our customers,” noted Kimberger.
Worldwide, the house boasts almost 800 sales points, with its biggest markets Italy, France and Germany, while the brand has doubled business in the US in the past two years. It also boasts two flagships in Rue Grenelle in Paris and on Via Sant ’Andrea in Milan, and franchises in Lyon, Saint-Tropez, with a new boutique opening in Nice in time for the summer rush.
“The DNA of Philippe Model is Parisian essence with Italian craftmanship. Offering a premium contemporary designer product. A sophisticated look to get you through the entire day, for work, sports, university and aperitivo,” explained Kimberger.
It’s an urban contemporary product mainly made in Veneto, Italy’s key shoemaking region. Sneakers range in price, mostly from €250 to €350, a bracket they don’t want to leave, even as rivals up their prices, though Model fashion icon footwear can top €400.
As a designer, Model was noted for his sense of humor, and aged French style. Back in the '80s, his apartment on Rue Casanova in Paris became a temple for offbeat Gallic classicism. All footwear still boasts his seal of Paris logo with a sailing ship on waves.
The house maintains that tradition with vintage treatments on many shoes. Well-washed down finishes to provide an aged look along with color with a certain twist.
Internationally, the brand has also opened in India; gone back into the Middle East and opened in the Attica department store in Greece.
“In Covid we took a step back, and reduced some clients, taking a chance to clean up our distribution,” notes Kimberger, who like a true Bavarian supports Bayern Munich.
Philippe Model also signed over its children's license to Andrea Montelpare, the luxury junior shoes specialist, who has the children's footwear license for DSquared2, Moschino, MSGM and Elie Saab.
In terms of sustainability, Philippe Model has been investing in lighter-weight yet durable soles, and technical materials like water resistant nylon. “No point in making a shoe whose sole wears out in six months and you throw it away. That’s the opposite of sustainable,” insists Kimberger.
Philippe Model has also linked up with ACBC, or Any Thing Can Be Changed, the B-Corp specialist, to develop a sustainable shoe called Lyon, as the brand begins using materials culled from corn, apples and recycled plastic bottles. Its carbon footprint is smaller than many competitors, as most product is produced in the Veneto, and it is also planning to offset that by supporting reforestation.
Headquartered on the fashionable Via Bigli in Milan, staff worldwide totals some 60 people - ready for the next expansion into ready-to-wear. Historically, sneakers represented 98% of turnover, even with the recent addition of espadrilles and boots, still made in Italy.
“We do not need to rush or grow quickly; we focus on positioning first. But if you consider that 80% of our distribution is in apparel stores, that means there is a great opportunity to grow our fashion business,” says the executive.
Yes, but by how much, one wonders?
“In my experience if you want it to be 10% you have to shoot for 50% and if you want 20% you must shoot for 100% So our plans are very ambitious. But let’s just say, I would be very happy if fashion reached 10% of turnover,” he smiles.
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