Highly recognizable from its little turtle, Vilebrequin is a French brand headquartered in Switzerland specialized in holidays ready-to-wear for women, men, and children.
Vilebrequin was founded in St-Tropez more than 40 years ago, and since then Vilebrequin swimsuits have been a point of reference for generations of fathers and sons.
Now, the brand is further expanding its role as ambassador for the art of living under the sun with a women’s and little girl’s line that includes swimwear, ready-to-wear, and accessories — as always, focused on making summer last all year long.
Recently, Retail in Asia had the chance to interview the CEO, Roland Herlory, and know more about this fast-growing brand and its expansion plans in Asia.
What does Vilebrequin stand for?
Vilebrequin stands for quality, elegance and fun. During holidays, the only thing you would be wearing is your swimsuit, so one should feel comfortable and good looking.
The brand name Vilebrequin, or crankshaft in English, is the part of the engine which changes the up and down motion of the pistons into the moving force. Vilebrequin’s founder, Fred Prysquel, was an automobile journalist, and chose this name because at his very first store in St-Tropez he had a spiral staircase that reminded him of the car piece.
Even though, everything started from swimwear, Vilebrequin is not only that, but it a full set of garments for holidays outfits. How would you define the mood that you create for your customers?
We always say that we want our customers to feel the summer all year long.
The art of living at the beach has been invented in St Tropez in the 70’s. We come straight from that period, a time where the “insouciance” reigned and the summer days never ended. Fun, chill and elegance were the words. When putting on a Vilebrequin piece, one should feel these holidays’ vibes right away.
Vilebrequin thinks of all family members, and has anticipated the trends that we now see in China about kidswear designed to match the parents’ style. Where this idea came from and is it working only in Asia or you have success cases elsewhere?
We pioneered the ‘father and son’ concept back in the 90s. It seemed very natural to reproduce all the fun prints we had for adults into pieces for children. Since a few years we have completed this concept with the mother and daughter.
Today, we dress the whole family. Ready for holidays!
It is a way to have fun with your beloved ones. This is a trend we now see everywhere in the world!
What’s your current presence in Asia?
We are proudly present in many destinations: Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea. We have almost 20 boutiques in Asia, split between self-standing stores and multi-brands.
What are your expansion plans?
Our biggest project in Asia now is China. We are already present in Sanya and we are very soon opening our first store in Shanghai, and a summer pop-up Beijing.
We are not stopping there, we are also opening a permanent store in Beijing and other cities come next.
Who’s your customer profile, as it seems to us it could be very diverse?
Indeed! I like to say that our customer is anyone willing to let go and have fun without giving up elegance. At the same time, he/she is always in search of the highest quality products possible and seeking the specific flavor of the French Riviera way of life.
How do you target your potential customers?
We have great local teams that know the markets very well and constantly work to identify where the potential is. Social media also helps us discover that our pieces can go beyond our expectations and please a very large clientele.
Any specific digital marketing strategies?
We think digital is an opportunity to get closer to our customers and to provide them more content about our brand.
We create more and more videos for our social media channels because it has become a more and more immersive way of communicating today, a way to directly dive into the Vilebrequin spirit.
We even want to make them travel into the past thanks to a partnership with the INA (for Archive images from St-Tropez in the 70’s).
Lastly, we also invest in Partnership with influencers that embody our DNA.
Recently, we have seen Vilebrequin launching a few collaborations. What’s the reason behind and what’s next?
We always choose collaborations that have a connection with our DNA, our history, and that give a new light to the brand.
It’s the perfect way of refreshing without losing who we are. We just launched a new collaboration with the great French creator Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, and it pushed all our boundaries further, the response has been amazing!
We also launched a lifestyle collaboration with Materia Bikes, that resulted in beautiful and one of a kind beach-cruisers, for those long summer rides on the beach. For the next steps, you have to wait and see!
Article originally published on Retail in Asia. Republished with permission.
Cover image: Vilebrequin