Carven discreetly back in business bolstered by new owner Icicle
Chinese group Icicle intends to apply the wisdom of Italian proverb “chi va piano va sano e va lontano” (which translates as ‘proceed with caution, and you’ll go far’) to Carven. Icicle bought the luxury Parisian label founded in 1945 last autumn, and anticipated it would be taking its time to assess the status of Carven and introduce a new strategy, notably following the departure of creative director Serge Ruffieux at the time of the acquisition.
Following Ruffieux’s departure, the label's own design studio took charge of creativity. Carven’s first internally designed collection, focusing on womenswear for the Fall/Winter 2019-20, is now ready, and will be launched in-store next autumn. Although, as a source told FashionNetwork.com, it will not be officially “presented.” The label is in fact going through a transitional phase, with the goal of getting gently back into operational mode, while taking as much time as is necessary to find a new creative director who will develop a new stylistic voice, enabling Carven to have its say in fashion again. This transitional period is expected to last for at least two seasons, if not more, since a new creative director isn’t expected to join before 2020.
In the meantime, more jobs have been cut, after the company took on some 80 employees last October. Carven’s staff is currently about 50 people. They are working to get the label back on its feet after it ceased trading for one year - the last collection on sale was Fall/Winter 2018 - and following a period of uncertainty about Carven's future.
The label is still selling its back catalogue, and will be distributing a new collection at the end of next summer. It will do so via the four French monobrand stores included in the acquisition deal struck by Icicle (three in Paris and one in Cannes), online and also through a series of stores which are set to open in China.
Icicle already operates a network of 250 stores in China for its eponymous premium brand, and is planning to open about 40 Carven stores in the country in the next two years. The first few will open in the coming months, to coincide with the launch of the Fall/Winter 2019-20 collection. This will kick off Carven’s expansion in China, and the label will then be ready to embark on the second, more emphatic phase of its relaunch, which is expected to start a little later.
Icicle is also laying the foundations for its eponymous label’s internationalisation strategy. In the meantime, it put its Parisian business, hence Carven, in the hands of Isabelle Capron.
Before ceasing operations, when the label's former owner Bluebell decided to throw in the towel, Carven's revenue plunged from €50 million to approximately €20 million in just a few years.
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