Lacoste Expands into Home
By Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, 2/10/2008 12:00:00 AM
New York —
Turning a classic brand into a "today brand" with a modern twist is the challenge facing Philippe Lacoste who, with his father, is leading the return to glory of the 75-year-old brand.
"We have our roots in the golf and tennis world, but that was the '20s. Now we are doing things with color, fabrics and products and a bit of experimentation," he said during a visit while attending the Fashion Week show here, where Lacoste was showing at the apparel event.
The project of translating sportive looks to home furnishings also is a challenge, he admitted. "We use the DNA of the company and the big talent of our designers to create the idea, the concept."
Color, for example, is more daring, more extreme than it was in the last century. Today, for example, there's lemon green and fuchsia that are translated into home furnishings. "It's classics with a twist, it's the big talent of our designers to translate the tradition into a product," he said.
Lacoste, which launched its home brand with Sunham as its U.S. licensee last market, "had a very strong reaction at retail, consistent with our distribution," said Ken Rood, ceo of KJR Home, the marketing advisor to Lacoste. Coming up this year is distribution of home products on Neiman Marcus Direct, and 50 shop-in-shops at better Macy's and Belk's stores. "The concept of in-and-out in merchandise is important and fairly new for these stores," Rood added.
In addition, Lacoste is analyzing the potential of some of the home products in their own stores, now about 52 in this country, Lacoste remarked. "It would primarily be gift things like towels, and beach and robes. We don't have room in the stores for a bed," he said laughingly. For the next several years, the company plans to add 10 to 15 Lacoste stores a year in the United States. Worldwide there are more than 1,000, with about 150 being opened a year.
As for expanding the product mix in home, Lacoste remarked, "In Europe we never do that — mixing merchandise like tabletop and textiles. In the U.S. you mix more. But we're going to move much more slowly. We're going to try to do very well in textiles before we move beyond. Perhaps gifts will be next. We believe in evolution, not revolution."
Acknowledging that the company is "much more active than reactive than 10 years ago," Lacoste said, "We still have a lot to learn, but we are selling on the internet."
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