Selling British Fashion to the French

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Britain is not known throughout the European continent for haute couture, but we may be getting a more fashionable image if ladies’ wear brand Lipsy is successful in expanding their European line into the fickle and appearance oriented French market.

With several concept stores as well as 350 locations around the UK, in addition to 600 boutiques throughout Western Europe, Lipsy has already earned a name outside Britain in markets such as Scandinavia, Spain, and Germany. Italy and France are the only places where the brand has not penetrated the market. However, this is about to change, as Lipsy prepares for a strong push into the French fashion scene.

Can this brand take on a country where choices in fashion abound? The first thing to examine is the fashion logo design. The Lipsy logo is pretty in pink, appealing to the inner girl that dominates many women’s consumer decisions. A stylized letter L along with a heart adds to the classically feminine feeling. This image is drawn so it appears to be handwritten, implying artistry and attention to detail. The more business-like side of the company is shown in the straightforward font used for the wording. Although the brand spreads far beyond London, the clothing logo design shows the UK roots by including this city’s name.

Lipsy makes this expansion at a time when the brand is undergoing other changes. To accommodate changes in spending habits caused by the recession, the brand is focusing more and more on offering a range of affordable clothing for the value-oriented customer. This is a diversion from the brand’s high fashion image that may ultimately undermine the core lines, and a risky move to undertake during an expansion.

One interesting part of the Lipsy brand as it will be presented in France is that the British and European lines have been kept distinct due to differences in the fashion seasons in the two countries. London haute couture currently features nine annual collections, while European fashion follows the seasons with four collections released every year. This creates a challenge for a brand that has been tailored to the UK market, but this is a challenge that many UK designers have overcome. The Lipsy brand has been operating successfully in other areas of Europe and handling the two distinct brand collections with grace and ease.

How will Lipsy fare in France? If history is any indicator, this expansion should be an immense success. Lipsy clothing has been available in France for years through select distributors as well as the ‘Les 3 Suisses’ catalogue and fashion website www.monshowroom.com. Because the sales through these venues have been promising, the brand has every reason to feel confident creating a stronger presence in the nation. The invasion will be swift and dramatic, with a goal of 300 stores opening in just three years and 50 to 60 of these slated to open by next autumn. The brand will also begin distributing their fashions through an expanded network of French department stores.