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Théophile & Patachou: A man, a woman, and a bear. Fashion, Design - 07 April 2017

(c) Théophile et Patachou

Behind this name with a childlike ring to it is a pair of entrepreneurs whose basic concept – to create a world focused on babies – became a very serious business that is constantly changing.

It’s a wonderful story – first of all, the characters are great, both passionate and complementary – as well as a story of meetings.  In this specific case, it’s the story of Isabelle Thys, a marketing graduate who is passionate about fashion, and Didier Melotte, a stylist who has been surrounded by textiles since childhood. In 1994, the pair created Théophile & Patachou, a luxury brand dedicated to the world of babies. Chic and timeless, the bath towels, comforters, cuddly toys, clothes, accessories, cradles, leather bags, decorative objects, developmental toys, birth gifts, and baby bedrooms are all part of a desire to offer collections and items inspired by authenticity, heritage, and tradition. And then there is the bear, the label’s symbol, a perfect embodiment of its identity. Isabelle Thys explains, “When we decided on the brand image 22 years ago, we obviously didn’t expect to be where we are today. The name came from a brainstorming session. We wanted it to be both masculine and feminine and for it to create a certain poetry. And the spirit of the collections has remained the same since our beginnings: that focus on quality materials, soft colours, and round, classic shapes, making sure to never be boring.”

The T&P spirit

The Théophile & Patachou style is lots of white, blue, and baby pink, and a soft, caressing design. Never anything loud or ostentatious. Isabelle Thys says, “We monitor the trends of fashion and interior design. In a few years, without turning our backs on our DNA, we have introduced new materials and new embroidery. Young parents’ habits and tastes change and the brand must meet these expectations. The real challenge is to pace this search for innovation. For example, we launched two new baby bedrooms: one which is modular and the other with a vintage feel. But it’s quite curious; we noticed that the market wasn’t ready for that. What will, however, always set us apart from our competitors is that our level of quality remains constant, whatever happens.”

Belgium, but not only…

Isabelle Thys emphasises the brand’s success in Belgium, as soon as it was launched, “Belgians place a lot of importance on their interior design. We had the opportunity to reach a wide audience quickly on our own market.” Nevertheless, since 2000, Théophile & Patachou has been exported to France, a country immediately attracted to the avant-garde nature of the label, then to Spain and Switzerland, with other various European markets following, before setting out to conquer the rest of the world five years later. Although the brand has sometimes seen setbacks, in Russia for example, Isabelle Thys and Didier Melotte have always monitored the market trends and distribution methods. After having presented their collections at the Maison & Objets trade fair in Paris for several years, the pair chose to prospect further afield by exhibiting at the Pitti Bimbo trade fair in Florence. Isabelle Thys adds, “At the beginning, presenting our collections alongside the major players in Italian fashion such as Gucci was an honour. But we’ve been around the trade fair block quite a few times now. We feel that we are at a turning point in our story. The sector is constantly changing.  We recently launched an online shop that supplements our distribution through multiple brands, in Belgium and abroad, as well as in our own boutiques.”

The leitmotif? Change.

When we ask her to tell us her goals in terms of development and growth, Isabelle Thys prefers to emphasise the obligation a brand like hers has to adapt. “In particular, I think our online shop, in addition to its strictly commercial aspect, offers us a fantastic international showcase. We now have to be active on social networks and aim at trade fairs other than those where we have been present up to now.  We must pay attention to market barometers and act on all levels: the design of collections, as well as their presentation and distribution. The worst mistake would be to stagnate, to lose sight of how the new generation consumes and what they like.” 

By Marie Honnay

(c) Théophile et Patachou

(c) Théophile et Patachou

(c) Théophile et Patachou

Further information

www.theophile-patachou.com



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