Jean Paul Gaultier’s managing director Antoine Gagey calls the French house’s archives a gold mine, as they cover more than 30,000 pieces created by the beloved French enfant terrible during a fashion career spectacular 50 years.
Now the brand is opening this bounty to the public by renting out spectacular runway looks as part of a revamped website that will also sell vintage selections, with the ultimate goal of reclaiming the resale business as an internal business. .
Scheduled to go live on Wednesday, the site crystallizes the company’s new dynamic with its digital-first distribution model, the rotation of creative teams, drops instead of collections – and a return to ready-to-wear. , six years after the founder quit men’s and women’s rtw and 21 months after the acclaimed designer retired from the runway.
In an exclusive interview, Gagey said his first rtw fly last May, a collection devoted to new interpretations of Gaultier’s favorite marine theme, actually sold out “within hours”, confirming strong interest in the brand and its new approach, which also included freewheeling collaborations, recycled items and “interventions” on clothing by the expert hands of the Gaultier tailoring workshop.
“We thought there was potential, and we are very, very happy with our first results,” he said, citing the particular enthusiasm of consumers in France, the United States and the United Kingdom. .
A unique couture collection by Chitose Abe of Sacai last July – the plan is to invite a different guest designer each season – was also a hit. A three-way collaboration between Jean Paul Gaultier, Sacai and Nike on a Vaporwaffle sneaker sold out in minutes, while rtw co-branded items in tandem with couture sold out within days.
The new online store – with improved functionality and editorial elements – represents the brand’s main window to the world, a cutting-edge concept store blending an array of product categories, including fragrances, but without the usual screening of men and women.
“We wanted it to be genderless. It’s a way of reaffirming that we are Jean Paul Gaultier, we are fluid between the sexes, ”said Gagey, speaking in the house’s couture salons designed by Philippe Starck.
In addition, “we want to explore new ways of buying and living fashion by mixing on the same platform, on the same page, the new looks of our design studio, the design collaborations with some guests, the re-release of iconic and also vintage pieces, ”he said.
For example, the new-look site will go live on Wednesday with a wide range of clothing based on the punk style, including tartan clothing, knits and jersey pieces sporting historic logos; a collaboration with New York-based outerwear company Schott around personalized vintage perfecto jackets and a range of products from Parisian accessory designer Stéphanie D’heygere, including tin bracelets and blade rings Shaver.
For true fanatics of the house, which has often glamorized smoking, there will also be limited edition resin ashtrays encrusted with artifacts from the tailoring shop like embroidered clothing tags, forgotten pins and cigarette butts. cigarettes.
The ability to rent Gaultier rtw archives, including looks from the ’80s and’ 90s, opens up the designer brand to a much wider audience, with prices ranging from around 150 euros for a scarf to 700 euros for a dress. cage style evening.
The service, set to launch soon, comes at a time when Millennials and Gen Z are starting to shy away from fast fashion in favor of sustainable basics, and are turning to vintage or rental for more experimental fashion statements.
The initial cache of archival looks for rent includes several dresses incorporating the designer’s famous conical satin bra and a studded men’s denim outfit. Around thirty items should be available for hire initially.
“We will renew the offering based on trends, for example if we see certain items in the vintage market evolve or expand,” Gagey explained. “The idea is to renew, to surprise the customer and to give him the opportunity to wear different Jean Paul Gaultier pieces that he will not be able to buy simply because he does not exist. These are samples.
The executive said the intention is to keep the rental service fairly exclusive and not “take over the market”. It’s another way for us to explore and connect with the whole fan base, ”he noted.
The Puig-owned fashion house began meticulously cataloging its archives – repairing, classifying, scanning and moving clothing and accessories to safe storage – about a year ago, and there is still work to be done.
Gagey said the new site will launch with around 50 vintage items for sale, from private customers and dealers, with the ultimate goal of becoming the dominant dealer of the pre-loved Jean Paul Gaultier. He said discussions were underway with leading resale markets “on potential ways to work together. Why not get some help from them? But we want to manage the vintage business… It’s very strategic for us.
The executive has shown keen interest in vintage Gaultier – and rising resale prices – on platforms as important as Vestiaire Collective and Depop, the latter renowned for its young audience.
“I think the vintage market is the number one barometer for measuring Jean Paul Gaultier brand equity, especially for us as our business is restarting,” he said. “We have also noticed that some of the products that we have discontinued in the last two months, which were available in very limited quantities … are also resold in secondary markets, sometimes at 20 times the price we were selling a few weeks before on our platform.
Examples include a navy striped tulle dress and t-shirt made in collaboration with daring rapper Lil Nas X, which Gagey compared to the current version of the hit Madonna collaboration of yore.
Although digital remains the primary distribution vehicle for the renovated home, it plans to work with online and offline wholesalers for specific collection drops.
For example, the new punk line will be sold in all Dover Street Market stores around the world, Selfridges in London, Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées in Paris, Voo Store in Berlin and Canadian e-merchant Ssense.com, which also offered the marine rtw drop theme.
Gagey cited two main clientele: more mature, lifelong fans of the beloved French designer, and a younger generation who are now discovering the founding couturier’s revolutionary and inclusive fashions and eager to shop in accessible product categories, such as the jersey, with the new rtw drops.
Illustrating the house’s goal of reaching as wide an audience as possible – in keeping with the come-one, come-all ethic initiated by the founder – one of the logo t-shirts from the punk collection is available in sizes, ranging from two months to 4XL.
Gagey noted that the next rtw drop is tentatively scheduled for March, while his second guest designer, Glenn Martens, will unveil an haute couture collection in Paris next January.
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