Karl Lagerfeld tackles accessibly priced market with new line Karl

Karl Lagerfeld is making a bold new move into a bold new market. On Jan. 25, the iconic designer will unveil a new line designed to appeal to the masses, with the price tag to prove it. Retailing at around $95 to $450, the “rock ‘n’ roll” vibed collection Karl boasts 100 items of womenswear. Initially available exclusively at Net-a-porter, the line will debut on end of February, reported WWD.

Dominated by denim and leather, the “street” attitude collection is aimed at women in their late teens and early 20s, although Pier Paolo Righi, the new president of Karl Lagerfeld BV, is quick to call the pieces “ageless.” Items include jeans with a silver luster and a classy black cocktail dress, with some articles featuring detachable collars.

Made in Italy and Asia, the line will be produced in-house.

“It’s my today’s taste and style and a reflection of how I think a great number of people would like to be dressed now,” Lagerfeld said of the collection to WWD.

Righi also unveiled a number of new efforts designed to ramp up the company’s profits, from pop-up shops to “experience” boutiques. Current annual sales come in at around $137 million, but with the new accessibly priced line, a key part of the company’s strategy, hopes are to hit even higher numbers.

“We would disappoint if we could not multiply that substantially,” the executive said. “We also think there is a big opportunity to drive the business with strategic alliances and partnerships.”

While declining to name precise figures, Righi declared “such an Internet business for our brand, over the course of five years, definitely has the potential to be several tens of millions of euros.”

Plans are to expand to with a Karl menswear c0llection in time for Fall 2012, plus to invite 20 top-of-the-line retailers to offer the line wholesale. To kick things off, the company will launch a number of pop-up shops in international metropolises such as Paris, as well as several freestanding stores and “experience” boutiques, which will offer both the high-end and more affordable lines. The first boutique is scheduled for late 2012.

All these brick-and-mortar efforts don’t mean the label won’t be launching some serious digital initiatives to connect with the younger crowd. The new line will be promoted heavily on the Web, with a marked social media campaign.

“It’s a very strong, well-edited collection with a great mix of street attitude and timeless chic. It also is an entire wardrobe that mixes and matches well with itself,” Natalie Massenet, founder and executive chairman of The Net-a-Porter Group, said. “While it has great contemporary price points, it has enough edge to resonate with a sophisticated fashion consumer who is looking for great new items at any budget.”

Lagerfeld does not back calling the line an “affordable designer segment.”

“I don’t work in that direction. I just want not too expensive clothes that people may like and perhaps want to wear,” he said. “That was my concept for a long time, but my business partners in the past wanted to be like Chanel or Fendi without putting behind what is needed to be like that. It was only when Apax sold Hilfiger that they started to look at Lagerfeld with other eyes and started to invest, etc. Now I am feeling we are ready for the right job — the way to do things right in a modern, unusual way.”

Together with creative agency Laird + Partners, Lagerfeld has also reworked his website, which will now highlight the designer’s hobbies and interests. Fans can check out insider photos and his favorite exhibitions, among other options.

“The awareness of the man, Karl Lagerfeld, and what he stands for is amazing. He’s the guru of fashion,” Righi said. “We are taking the essence of what is there and bringing it to life.”

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LadyLUX via WWD, Huffington Post

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