Podcast: Pierre Mahéo (Officine Générale) explains the daily challenges and strategies for developing a fashion brand
A few days before the start of the Men's Paris Fashion Week, Pierre Mahéo, founder of Officine Générale - which will show on the catwalk on Friday, January 20 - gives Olivier Guyot, editor-in-chief of FashionNetwork.com, an overview of the men's fashion scene.
In this new episode of the LuxurynsightXFashionNetwork podcast, our guest stresses the importance of making fashion accessible, especially the one presented on the catwalk. "90% of our clothes that were on the runway last June will be in stores in March," smiles the entrepreneur. The collection of essentials comes in monochromatic tones, oscillating between navy blue, khaki green and darker shades, or between mouse gray and charcoal.
"I started out alone and stayed alone for a year and a half," recalls Pierre Mahéo. After transforming his apartment "into a warehouse with a hurricane of boxes" the first season, he recruited his right-hand woman, Vanessa Bonnefoux, first CFO of the label from 2015 to 2017, then CEO of the company since March 2021.
Together, they managed to put in place "the basics of management and rigor" allowing them to create "a collection plan," and also enabling them "to be critical about what we do, to know how to sell the product, to convince the federation when we want to integrate a calendar, to deliver commercially," lists the designer who now has fifty employees.
In this podcast, Pierre Mahéo also recalls his first inspirations, his conception of tailoring, being influenced by his family heritage and his native Brittany. On the one hand, the chino pants, the oxford shirts and the work clothes of his father, an oyster farmer who liked to dress with "few materials but materials that last, age well, and resist to sea spray and the sun", says the designer.
On the other hand, his paternal grandfather, a former tailor and connoisseur of materials and cuts, "who wore a suit or even a three-piece suit every day and who went to get his bread and coffee on Sundays with his tie". He "organised his entire wardrobe by colour", a system that Pierre Mahéo is particularly fond of and reproduces today in his stores.
An international retail strategy
In May 2021, the founder of Officine Générale raised funds from the American group named The Untitled Group. In parallel with this operation, the amount of which was not disclosed, BPI France, the label's historical investor since its opening of its capital in 2015, once again underlined its confidence in the fashion label, by increasing its stake.
This enabled Pierre Mahéo to open his first store in the United States, in the iconic Soho district of the Big Apple, at 220 Lafayette Street. The store, which opened on December 11, includes a sales area, showroom and offices, in an olive green decor with vintage furniture. It features Officine Générale's men's and women's collections as well as a new line of essentials called "Daily Classics".
This opening in New York, "a gift of ten years of work," as put by the Breton designer, is part of his expansion strategy on the American market, and should be accompanied by another boutique opening in Los Angeles, announced for next spring.
Today, the French label is established in Europe, notably in Paris - the city where it was created - with nine points of sale and a space in the department store Le Bon Marché, in Lyon and has a London store on Beak Street. Pierre Mahéo, who believes "very much in retail", is counting on a dozen new openings within three years.
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