Investigation“Produce only what is strictly necessary” is the principle of some fashion brands. Born from the difficulties of young designers to finance their first collections, the formula responds to the desire of the French to consume less but better.
A checked overshirt. A suede jacket. A T-shirt. A big wool sweater. Velvet pants. In its store on rue Froissart, in Paris, Forlife presents five products. Only five products. Since its creation in 2018, the men’s clothing brand has been based on the concept of pre-order. Customers buy an item online that will be manufactured later. “They will only be delivered in three months”, specifies Séverin Bonnichon, who created this brand with his brother, Lucas.
This Parisian boutique, the unique physical point of sale of the young label, allows you to prepare your purchase, try a prototype, gauge a stitch, a fabric or a cut and choose a color. “It’s a kind of showroom”, explains M. Bonnichon. With this concept “Unique in Paris”, the pre-order is now well established.
This mode of sale has become a “Business model”, Judge Pierre-François Le Louët, president of the trend firm NellyRodi and of the French ready-to-wear federation. However, it was born out of a constraint, that of young fashion designers who were struggling to finance their first collections. The use of underwriting allowed them to get started without having to constitute a working capital requirement to pay suppliers and have products manufactured before putting them on sale. “We are paid before paying them”, explains Charlotte Dereux, founder of the Patine brand.
Dazzling commercial success
Adrien Garcia, co-founder of Réuni, with his partner, Alice Bailly, says he launched their brand “Without advancing 1 euro either for the material or for the production”. All for a large sweater sold for pre-order in October 2019 and delivered in January 2020. The method minimizes financial risks. Brands thus ensure that they do not end up with “Unsold stocks on the hands”, Mr. Le Louët also observes. And they thus avoid “Degrade their margins” by selling them at cut prices to sell for collection purposes, explains Julia Amsellem, partner in the strategy consulting firm EY-Parthénon, a specialist in fashion and luxury.
On paper, the pre-order would thus have all the economic virtues. Especially since the commercial success can be dazzling. When it launched in 2016, Hopaal planned to sell 200 copies of a recycled cotton T-shirt. “We sold more than 700”, remembers Clément Maulavé, co-founder of this SME based in Biarritz (Pyrénées-Atlantiques). The first edition of ” sweater “ of Reuni sold 750 copies at the end of 2019. The brand then sold 1,100 shirts, 1,200 cardigans and 7,500 T-shirts in 2020.
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