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30 Mar

Officine Générale Accelerates U.S. Push With Recent Los Angeles Store

PARIS — Officine Générale is expanding its retail network within the U.S., with a recent location in Los Angeles and plans for further stores in Recent York City and San Francisco this yr.

Following the opening of a store within the Palisades Village shopping mall in Pacific Palisades in January, the French brand last week unveiled its second L.A. location on North Sycamore Avenue in Hollywood, a neighborhood that the Los Angeles Times recently branded as “L.A.’s coolest recent hangout.”

Pierre Mahéo, designer and chief executive officer of Officine Générale, said it’s a part of a retail rollout that also features a revamp of its e-commerce site set to launch in May. While the e-shop helped to tide over the label through the pandemic, he believes a digital presence alone won’t guarantee future growth.

“All these tools which were put in place have never and won’t ever replace putting on a jacket or coat, trying on a sweater or touching fabric,” he told WWD. “That’s why retail could be very essential.”

The brand plans to finish the yr with 18 directly operated stores. Along with the U.S. locations, it’s searching for a further space in Paris, where it has seven boutiques.

Known for accessibly priced classics in a handpicked number of materials, Officine Générale is about to maneuver its operations to a bigger warehouse space near the French capital because it grows into recent areas, with plans to launch its first line of leather goods later this yr.

The Officine Générale store in Pacific Palisades.

Courtesy of Officine Générale

The expansion reflects a healthy growth trajectory, with revenues up 45 percent in 2022 and forecast to rise 52 percent this yr, based on Mahéo, who declined to offer total sales. The U.S. is the brand’s biggest market outside of France, and womenswear accounts for 40 percent of revenues overall.

“The last quarter of 2022 was hard to read when it comes to predicting how 2023 would pan out. Thus far, it’s holding up well,” the founder reported. “The beginning of the yr has been very, very strong in France and the U.S. Now let’s see what happens.”

Along with the continued protests in France against the federal government’s pension reform, which risk impacting tourism flows, Mahéo is keeping a wary eye on the fallout from Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse, which has raised fears of a recent global financial crisis.

His brand is in solid shape though, having emerged from the pandemic with a recent backer, Recent York-based investment fund Untitled Group. That partly explains the U.S. push, though he’s also seeking to secure distribution deals in China and Japan, along the lines of the label’s existing partnership with LF Corp. in South Korea.

Officine Générale opened its first U.S. outpost in Recent York City in December 2021. A hands-on executive who selects each location, Mahéo signed the lease for the shop in SoHo, which also doubles as a wholesale showroom and office, sight unseen. The moment borders reopened in November 2021, he went to ascertain it out.

“I used to be on the second plane out of Paris,” he recalled. “We have now a warehouse, and we did a physical mockup of the space using masking tape to get a feel for it. It was somewhat unusual, but it surely worked out well.”

Pierre Mahéo

Pierre Mahéo

Guillaume Roujas/Courtesy of Officine Générale

The Recent York store has been doing brisk sales, because of a loyal fan base that was accustomed to Officine Générale’s brand of elevated classics, largely through Barneys, which was once its largest wholesale account before it went out of business in 2020.

“We didn’t just land within the U.S. out of nowhere and choose to open six or 12 stores. We had already forged those ties, which was very essential. We had numerous quality retailers, including Mr Porter, which has been very strong for us within the U.S., shops like Saks and Nordstrom, in addition to specialty stores,” he said.

Now that travel restrictions have been lifted, he’s within the States roughly every six weeks, recently spending three days on the shop floor in Pacific Palisades to get a feel for the local customer.

Though it turned out to be an unusually cold winter in California, Mahéo reported a great start, with strong demand for its Day by day Classics line of wardrobe staples, launched in December 2021 and available exclusively in its own stores.

“We sell the identical things that we sell in Recent York,” he said. “What’s great about Los Angeles is that we have now quite a global clientele.”

The 1,300-square-foot store at 927 North Sycamore Avenue sits on a stretch that’s home to media corporations and art galleries, in addition to luxury eyewear brand Jacques Marie Mage, U.S. menswear label Bode and concept store Just One Eye.

“My first visit to the neighborhood was love at first sight. The architecture, the vibe of the realm was every thing I used to be searching for,” said Mahéo, who designed the space together with his wife Nina Haverkamp and Paris-based architect Juliette Rubel.

Original features include Bossche School “Goliath” chairs by Gerard Wijnen, alongside midcentury furniture items akin to a primitive oak coffee table and stool. Ceramic vases by Léa Ginac, a ceramic sculpture by Tim Orr and works by photographer Annemarieke van Drimmelen and artist Laurent Jaffrennou complement the space.   

Officine Générale’s second Recent York store, situated on Madison Avenue between 72nd Street and 73rd Street, is about to open within the fourth quarter, with San Francisco also on account of bow before the top of the yr.

Mahéo said that while he’s conscious of the environmental impact of frequent travel, it’s essential to take care of close links between France and the U.S. with the intention to impart his retail philosophy to local sales associates.

“We have now a selling ceremony that’s a bit of different from U.S. standards,” he said. “We spend a bit of more time explaining the product, the collections, the cuts. We attempt to suggest and fine-tune looks. It’s more like being a private shopper.”

Looking ahead, Mahéo is scouting potential locations in cities including Munich; Brussels; Geneva, Switzerland; and Lille and Bordeaux, France — but he’s taking his time. “It’s good to step it up a gear, but to do it with care. I’ve at all times done things in stages,” he said.

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