Much like Barbie had Skipper always tagging along and trying to steal her hot boyfriend Ken, so it is that fast (er?) French fashion brands now too unfold themselves bringing along wherever they open up shop their side-kick junior label. More often than not they are found on the exact same street or within the two-block radius.
I initially thought they operated in Mom’n’Pop-style boutique companies that start with one brand and then branch out into another similar but not quite label and then seem to kind of keep going. The image they sell is the opposite effect of the brand that merely exists to be bought out by the huge holding companies; they sell out about 20-30% to investors and retain full control. But THEN I found out that Sandro/Maje/Claudie Pierlot were bought out by a holding company owned by Bernard Arnault. So all roads lead back to LVMH after all.
I am truly fascinated by this because when shopping I sometimes feel like a family therapist: there is a single event (an oversized sweater with leather elbow patches) and I get to see each family member’s take on it. Teenage-ish Maje’s sweater is knit and soft and ballerina pink; 20 going on 35 Sandro’s is black and sparkly. They both wear leather jackets everywhere they go and are into sneakers as is everybody lately. Apparently they also own Claudie Pierlot but this brand was not born but rather acquired and is a bit off-beat like a distant cousin coming to live with them after being raised by different parents with different values. They don’t always do they same things or hang out together. This company was started by a duo sister act Evelyne Chetrit and Judith Milgrom; their children also work in the company.
At Apostrophe one can sometimes find a secret rack full of Georges Reich; Apostrophe copies everything if they were siblings they would probably get into fights about the younger sibling copying everything the older one did. Tangent: my older sister used to wait until I was dressed before getting dressed herself so that I wouldn’t copy. I showed her by automatically going to change and copy every single detail of her outfit.
Then there is Gerard Darel and the brand-new just-born Paul. I am starting to get confused by all these generic first name labels by the way. I have yet to go into Paul but am a huge fan of Gerard Darel even though it looks kind of like executive secretary wear from the window displays.
And then…there is…The Kooples. Ah, them. The children of the Comptoir de Cotonier’s Tony and Georgette Elicha. The three Jewish brothers Alexandre, Raphael, and Laurent (The Emmanuel brothers of France perhaps?) who started their own label based on everything they learnt from their parents (nurture vs. nature debate?). A fabulous branding campaign that proved to be a huge success as we all know; playing on fashion but also on real couples and also on a family history. An homage to their parents who did it big and did it together. There is now The Kooples and The Kooples Sport. What is the actual difference? Not important I guess but a good example of the unfolding of a brand.
So where was I going with Barbie and Skipper? Oh yeah, just that… people love sibling stories; just look at Barbie and Skipper, the Kennedy brothers, the Courtin heiresses, The Roitfelds… so this is just a more conceptual extension of story-telling via fashion products. Or maybe I just have too much imagination.
PS – To this day, I still like it when my sister and I dress exactly the same. I do not buy a pair of shoes without buying her a pair and to this day we will go out wearing matching outfits and people think we’re weird but we don’t care (much).