Carven CEO Sophie de Rougemont talks strategy, womenswear and pricing
Parisian fashion label Carven is going through a transition phase. The brand was acquired last May by the Bluebell Group, its partner and distributor in China. And in October, the accessible luxury label split from the creative duo in charge of its womenswear collections, Alexis Martial and Adrien Caillaudaud, as well as discontinuing its men's line.
Sophie de Rougemont took charge of the brand last spring at the same time as the Bluebell Group acquired its majority stake in the firm. At the Luxury Forward conference on Tuesday in Paris, she explained the label's new strategic outlook to FashionNetwork.
FashionNetwork: Where does Carven stand now?
Sophie de Rougemont: We are in transition as we are looking for a new creative director. This will be a crucial figure, someone who embodies our house's values. Once we have found the right person, it will be easier to communicate with the world about our projects. In the meantime, what I wish to do is refocus on our values, and capitalise on them.
FNW: And what are those values?
SDR: Carven has been in business since 1945. Its atelier and archives, its heritage, are still rooted in the heart of Saint-Germain in Paris. Madame Carven's clothes were infused with a special kind of freshness. The difference was in the details. Carven embodies both a couture heritage and a fresh approach. It is a label that can stake a genuine claim to being an expression of Parisian fashion. Highlighting these values will be our way of creating a connection with consumers and engaging them with the brand.
FNW: What is Carven's current positioning?
SDR: Carven is an accessible designer brand, not a luxury one. It was relaunched in 2009 by its former shareholders [Henri Sebaoun, currently the label's general manager, and Marc Sztykman] into the accessible luxury segment, targeting chiefly a young clientele, about 25 years old. The problem is that this has created a divide, since young customers cannot necessarily afford to pay €500 for an item of clothing.
FNW: So how are you addressing this issue?
SDR: We are targeting a clientele aged 25-45, able to afford to buy our products, while also addressing younger customers via accessible prices, for example pricing some items at €160. Also, we now need to consolidate. This is why for the time being we have discontinued the men's line. Carven was born as a luxury womenswear label. Once we have relaunched the women’s collection with a new creative director, then we can think about menswear.
FNW: You were formerly the Fashion Director for Bluebell, can you tell us about the group?
SDR: Bluebell is a multi-brand luxury goods distributor in Asia, employing a staff of 2,000 and operating 500 retail outlets. For example, it works with Interparfums, Moschino and Manolo Blahnik. The group is keen to invest in the best locations, and to establish a real relationship with customers.
FNW: Will Carven show in Paris next February?
SDR: It is still too early to say.
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