Abbie & Rose, strategic caution. Fashion - 08 December 2016
There is no real explanation for the origin of its name and the ambitions of its creators are really quite reasonable (for now). And yet, this brand of men's shirts created in 2012 seems to be on the right track to follow the retailing 3.0 route.
If you ask Gilles Grosjean, a former banking executive, if Abbie & Rose: 1) will soon be bringing out a women's line. 2) will soon be launching a capsule collection or co-branded pieces. 3) will be opening a store within the year, his answer is an unequivocal ... "no". Gilles Grosjean: "Our primary goal is to work on the product. A few years ago, my former colleagues and I would turn up for work at the bank wearing the same blue shirt. That's how things were. Today, even in quite a formal environment, people are looking to stand out".
To meet these new expectations, Gilles Grosjean and his partners have developed two lines of shirts: a first (very affordable) line available in 3 styles (classic, trendy and casual) followed, three years ago, by The Finest Edition, a premium line made using more luxurious materials (Japanese and Italian cotton, Liberty, etc.).
For the Abbie & Rose shirt to really stand out, its designers carefully work out every detail. From the buttonholes to the embroideries to the lapels, the spirit is casual-chic but comes with a perfectly dosed twist. Gilles Grosjean: "What we want today is to capitalise on our know-how (a know-how that draws to a large extent on the experience of Jacques, one of Gilles Grosjean's partners, and his 40 years' experience in the men's shirt industry) without seeking, for example, to develop a women's line that lacks the same finish. Besides, the growth potential is stronger in the menswear niche." From the launch of the label, its creators chose to work with a workshop in Turkey.
Gilles Grosjean: "We wanted to find a partner that lived up to our ethical credentials, and in the interests of quality, it also had to be geographically close enough to facilitate production follow-up, and all this while offering good value for money, of course."
So what about the client? After all, he is at the heart of the strategic approach of the Abbie & Rose creators. They have therefore come up with the title of Client Happiness Officer for Pauline, their first employee who only recently came on board. Gilles Grosjean: "Her role is to give us a better web presence and communicate optimally with consumers. Similarly, Stan, our salesman, is always on the road meeting buyers and store owners. We are present mainly in Belgium - in the south of the country - in certain regions of France and in one store in the UK, while the growth potential in Flanders, Paris, but also in Germany or the Netherlands is also very real. When we first launched the brand, we participated in the Parisian show Who's Next, but we did not feel that this type of commercial approach was for us." Especially since Gilles Grosjean and his partners have opted for the Pronto Moda system, the B2B equivalent of See Now Buy Now. Aware that, for many shops, anticipating the expectations of consumers and placing orders six months in advance is becoming more and more difficult, Abbie & Rose offers buyers new products continuously throughout the year. While this marketing approach demands maximum proactivity from the salesman, it is one of the brand's strengths. A brand that, with its first 60 sales outlets, is now targeting others with the patience of those – let's call them ambitious newcomers - who still subscribe to the saying Don't bite off more than you can chew.
By Marie Honnay