Welcome to News Bites, BoF's regular feature of the stories that get the industry talking.
Chiara Ferragni's namesake brand is expanding into brick-and-mortar territory.
Building on the success of her temporary pop-up stores, Ferragni will open a permanent Milan outpost on Wednesday, complete with an exclusive capsule collection to mark the occasion. It comes just weeks after the opening of her first boutique in Shanghai last month.
The two locations mark the start of an aggressive retail strategy for the Chiara Ferragni Collection. In China alone, there are plans to have 14 boutiques by the end of 2019. “We definitely plan to expand all over the world,” the brand's chief executive Andrea Lorini told BoF, citing Europe, North America and the Middle East as key markets.
For Ferragni, whose wholesale stockists include Selfridges, Le Bon Marché and Luisa Via Roma, the boutiques offer fans a different, more immersive brand experience. “Of course you can find my collection in so many stores all over the world, and online, but I really wanted to have people to enter my world in real life,” she says. “This is the concept of the Chiara Ferragni Collection stores; the clients enter into my world physically,” she continues, adding that “the stores are glittery and fun like the collection is.”
Known for its playful designs and signature “Flirting” motif, the Chiara Ferragni Collection has enjoyed huge success since it was founded in 2013. Last year, the brand generated close to $20 million in revenue, and its e-commerce arm grew 235 percent between June 2016 and June 2017.
“We really believe in e-commerce, in the online experience,” says Lorini, noting that physical store rollouts will complement efforts to develop e-commerce further, with imminent launches on JD.com, VIP.com, Mei.com and WeChat to cater to the brand's fast-growing East Asian market.
The stores are the latest business milestone for the 30-year-old influencer, who boasts 10 million followers on Instagram. Last year, she relaunched her blog-turned-lifestyle site, The Blonde Salad, with a new e-commerce vertical that stocks one off-vintage pieces alongside exclusive, co-branded products in partnership with brands such as Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, MGSM and N° 21. — Tamison O'Connor
Plus-size bloggers Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason have joined forces to launch a clothing line.
For Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason, the inadequacies of the plus-size market have long been clear. “We’ve heard over and over again that plus-size women don’t want fashionable clothing, that they won’t buy it,” says Gregg. “We want to prove everyone wrong.”
With their directional new collection, Premme, launching Tuesday, Gregg and Mason plan to do just that. As two of the most influential personal style bloggers in the plus-size space, both women have partnered with established brands on campaigns and capsule collections in the past, including ModCloth, Target and Swimsuitsforall. But Premme marks a new, independent chapter. Through a licensing deal with a vertical manufacturer secured by Digital Brand Products — the product-focused offshoot of talent management agency Digital Brand Architects, which represents Gregg and Mason — the bloggers are controlling everything from design to marketing for the first time.
“We are members of the plus-size community and we are really passionate about conversations that consumers are having with brands, that women are having amongst themselves,” says Mason. Feedback from the bloggers' followers over the years directly impacted the collection — as did the commitment to break conventional rules of the plus-size market. Every piece in the collection, from bodysuits to wide-leg pants, has a strong point of view. “This idea that you can wear something that is oversized and isn’t ‘flattering,’ but is a fashion moment and is a trend in fashion, that was really important for us to retain,” says Mason, citing a mesh dress in the collection as an example.
Accessibility was another priority. Each piece in the first collection is priced under $89, and moving forward, the monthly releases starting in September will stay under $100.
And as most plus-size collections on the market now are modelled by plus-size models, not plus-size women, photographing the collection on a range of body sizes — from 16, to 20 and 24/26 — that “read as plus-size,” to the shopper, explains Gregg, was another non-negotiable for Premme.
The line is only available on Premme’s website, Premme.us, and while they may work with wholesalers in the future, Gregg and Mason also want to maintain control over the way the collection is styled and presented. They have seen first-hand that retailers do not understand how to cater to plus-size consumers in their marketing efforts. “We don’t want to see our clothing on a size 10 model, especially right out of the gate,” says Gregg.
With a combined following of 672,000 on Instagram alone, Gregg and Mason already have a direct relationship with a receptive audience. “Social media has played a really big role in the way, culturally, we’re approaching diversity in general,” says Mason.
“We’ve been wanting to do this for years and years the mainstream market is now catching up to our vision,” adds Gregg. — Chantal Fernandez
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