Show must go on - Frédéric Martin-Bernard inquiry
by Modem – Posted August 02 2021
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On June 23rd, 2021 the Samaritaine re-opened its doors after having been closed for sixteen years. This event sends a strong signal of encouragement to traditional ready-to-wear stores who’d never suffered as much as they did since the beginning of the health crisis. True, e-commerce did compensate for part of the drop in activity linked to the closing of boutiques for many months. But this compensation was neither total nor perfect, explains Frédéric Martin-Bernard, who conducted this inquiry for Promas List .

To follow the comments that he collected from the founders of these French brands : Seraphin, Arbo, Chapal,; Jagvi, Karl Lagerfeld, Les Garçons Faciles, Saint James Uniforme, Officine Générale, Bluemarble, Louis Gabriel Nouchi, Olow

((Renewing ties}}
Buying from a screen is an emergency solution that can’t go on forever”, insists Henri-Georges Zack, director of the Parisian brand Seraphin that specializes in leather garments. “We noticed that our historical clients tended to choose pieces for which they already had reference points based on their previous orders, rather than opting for the season’s new creations. And let’s not even mention new clients for whom it was difficult to make a decision on video without having ever seen or touched a Seraphin blouson.Valentin Porcher, co-founder of the Olow brand, has the same observation. “Digital solutions function but the results still cannot compare with those of a season selling in the showroom. The orders climb much higher during physical appointments because exchanges, discussions and meetings are essential to our profession.

A healthy questionning
Most brands also count on this surge, knowing that professional buyers are tired of spending most of their time in front of a computer.
As a general rule in every field, a retailer opens a store because he likes being in contact with other people”, notes Valentin Porcher, a fervent defender of traditional business. “A professional buyer never looks at a new collection by perusing models on hangers”, adds Pierre Mahéo, founder of Officine Générale. “He likes to hold a piece of clothing by the shoulder, arm or leg to quickly judge its fabric, thickness, quality and hand … Direct contact with the product is essential in our profession”, continues this Parisian whose brand is one of ten French labels who’ll present their new collections in a real fashion show at the fair.
Officine Générale sent clients who couldn’t come to the fair samples of the season’s fabrics in advance to help them form an opinion and make decisions. Pierre Mahéo set up this supplementary ordering “tool” in June 2020.

“Every cloud has a silver lining”
“Every cloud has a silver lining” says the proverb. In many cases, some changes imposed by the pandemic will not be forgotten when the health situation improves and do represent “progress”. Like Officine Générale, the young Bluemarble and Louis Gabriel Nouchi, labels also didn’t have to be persuaded to renew their physical presentation during Paris Fashion Week. “I’m thrilled to do a fashion show again and also realize that I don’t think exactly the same way as before”, admits Louis-Gabriel Nouchi before his show. “For example, my proposition is much more visual. I’ve always put great emphasis on fabric hands and garment constructions … But no one sees this without actually seeing a garment worn. Without changing my style, I worked on details that could be sensed better in images … The pandemic also required that we become proficient quickly in digital marketing and find solutions to run our activity through e-commerce. By selling this way, we learned to better understand what customers expect from us. The context also pushed us to take a new look at our supply chain and reinforce our eco-responsible approach … I think we made many more developments in the last few months than we did before.”

Comments collected by Frédéric Martin-Bernard for Promas List

© Modem