Making it work: The challenges of revamping a brand

traditional brand revamp with Fiorucci

Fiorucci's new store

This has been a busy year for luxury brands, with the revamp of key players like Helmut Lang and Fiorucci. Having spent time in the new Fiorucci store, we began thinking about how you successfully bring back an established brand (which has been out of the limelight) for a younger audience? Helmut Lang entrusted Hood by Air’s Shayne Oliver who relaunched the fashion label with a catwalk show at NYFW this year and with his recent #throwback taxi cab campaign.

By contrast, Fiorucci has gone for a more hipster approach, creating a full store experience in Soho, London and hiring Palm Vaults to set up an in-store coffee shop complete with neon fixtures. The store is also home to regular events such as the recent Disco Christmas event complete with an in-store braid bar. This is in line with what we’re seeing across new retail concepts, which we revealed in our report called Home Away From Home: Residential Retail Concepts (subscribers check it out here).

“Hybrid retail locations in which visitors are encouraged to stay, work and shop are also on the rise, as brands try to create a more meaningful, immersive experience that goes above and beyond the sale. Offering a programme of events within a home-like setting, such as drinks or musical events in the bar area or cooking classes in the kitchen, will create deeper connections with customers,” reveals WGSN’s Laura Saunter.

Fiorucci Palm Vaults cafe


There is a delicate balance when it comes to how to revive a brand. Remember how all eyes were on Alexander Wang at Balenciaga and then Demna Gvasila at Balenciaga? Or what about Jonathan Saunders at DVF? To have critical and commercial success with a new generation, it seems that you need to keep the essence of what the brand is about but not force the whole ‘hey cool, young consumers, get to know us’ angle. Saunders in a recent interview with Elle Magazine revealed that his smart strategy has been to shift the focus away from the original product, keeping the USP, but updating the brand. “You cannot take this brand into the future if you look at the wrapdress as a literal starting point,” Saunders says. “Instead, I think about the essential qualities of that dress—sensuality and effortlessness, and how to translate them.” His first catwalk collection landed in September 2017 to great reviews in the fashion press. But just this morning, it has been announced that Saunders is leaving DVF, so nothing is ever set in stone.

An outsider style, creative thinking approach has worked successfully for luxury beauty, as our WGSN Business team reported back in 2013 at the Australian Financial Review’s Bespoke. At the conference Ramdane Touhami, director of Cire Trudon, revealed just how he revamped the brand. Cire Trudon’s Touhami, a skateboarder and fashion consultant with no interest in candles, was only convinced to work with the brand after discovering its impressive 365-year history. He spent a year tracing the brand’s origins, “living like an 18th century guy” and developing the “best product ever” before choosing to relaunch the new beeswax candles not via traditional retail but by entertaining clients from the “best houses in Paris”. “We earned A$17m in three years. Bam! Cash machine!” exclaimed Touhami. “This is what I want you to learn. Focus on making the best product. People will queue if you make the best bread. Don’t do a whole collection. Just do one T-shirt but do it well. There is no crisis for good product.”

Following the success of Cire Trudon, Ramdane Touhami launched a new beauty label called Buly 1803 in 2015 with his wife Victoire de Taillac, creating a small beauty empire. Buly 1803 now has its own standalone store in Paris and last year it successfully opened a UK concession space at Dover Street Market’s Haymarket store. The revived beauty brand draws inspiration from the life and work of Parisian perfumer Jean-Vincent Bully. The beauty brand now offers exquisitely packaged candles, essential oils, water-based perfumes and soaps, all made in the tradition of 19th-century craftsmanship. The curated London retail space featured a striking ceramic pink and blue faience tiled unit that showcases a curated edit of the brand’s cult products.

These examples show the different tacts taken by brands and their creative directors to appeal to their future consumer. And while each new effort might trend on social media or make an interesting headline, the clearest indicator of how successful a brand revamp has been, is its bottom line.



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