PARIS — French luxury skiwear brand Fusalp is planting its pole on Avenue George V for its new flagship boutique.
That the new store is steps away from the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, next to Hermès and catty corner from Louis Vuitton, is meant to boost the brand’s fashion score in a location where it is more visible to tourists.
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“It’s going to be a showcase to the world where we can show our vision for the brand and for the collections,” said chief executive officer Alexandre Fauvet. Fusalp already has five stores in the city, but he wants the brand to be amongst the luxury players.
“It’s been a big investment — it’s our biggest investment by far — but it’s about having the right timing,” he said. “We wouldn’t have been able to do it before, not because of cash reasons, but because we probably did not have the right collections. The spring collection really is raising the bar for us,” he said. “We feel ready.”
Fusalp is also launching its long-gestating capsule with artist Harry Nuriev that will officially launch Oct. 18.
The 12-piece unisex collection features metallic puffer coats and a pixelated print. Nuriev wanted to blur the lines between the virtual and physical worlds with the designs, and came up with the pixelated concept long before other brands showed similar prints on the runway.
It is the first time the brand has collaborated with an artist, though Fauvet sees Fusalp aligning itself with art moving forward. The company has partnered with an art festival in Chamonix, and, while the store is opening its doors Monday, it isn’t pegged to fashion week. Instead its opening party will be held Oct. 18 to coincide with the opening of Paris Plus by Art Basel.
For the capsule, Fusalp will feature AR mirrors from Zero10 where customers can virtually try on the clothes. Nuriev digitally recreated versions of his designs. This is not just a wow factor tech gimmick, but also a way to open customers’ minds to new possibilities.
Fauvet noted that colors sell differently depending on location. In cities, people tend to buy black or muted shades, and at the ski resorts they go for bolder shades. The AR capsule will mimic the slopes with their setting, and users can bounce from silver to pink in a few swipes.
The capsules will only be available in the flagship, and only for a limited time, but Fauvet hopes to roll them out to other locations in the future. He also envisions using similar tech in e-commerce soon.
The idea of projecting yourself into your next ski vacation gave rise to the boutique’s “retro-futuristic” concept, which has bright lighting against dark woods. Developing the interior design concept took two years, and has been trialed at a smaller location in Paris which opened last year.
They uncovered a hidden dome ceiling, which architect Dillon Garris opened up and flooded with natural light to showcase women’s looks.
The brand is equitable in its product mix; Fauvet said its gender split perfectly 50-50. It applied that ethos to the 1,300-square-foot space, dividing it equally.
While the approach helps steady sales from season to season, Fauvet frames it as a marketing challenge. They adapted the merchandising to the different needs of both genders. Female shoppers tend to want to discover items in different spaces, while men prefer things to be presented by category in blocks.
To achieve that they added some chalet design touches, such as shelving similar to ski and snowboard racks to stack up products in the men’s section.
“By nature we’re optimistic, and we’re looking forward, thinking about what we’re going to wear 10 years from now. But at the same time, we’re also very careful about our identity, because we have 71 years of history and its very important for us to cultivate this,” he said. “It’s a new phase that we are entering, a new era. This is encompassing all the messages that we want to push forward for the next decade.”
Fusalp was started by two tailors in the Alpine town of Annecy in 1952, and it still maintains a materials innovation lab there. Lacoste heirs Sophie and Philippe Lacoste acquired Fusalp in 2014, and appointed Fauvet to lead.
They are looking at opening and second store in the U.K. early next year. It has three stores in the U.S. and the expansion there will be a key focus going forward, as well as South Korea, where they have launched in four department stores within the last few weeks.
Only a third of global sales are coming from skiwear, he said. But the brand still keeps its sports cred — it was appointed official sponsor of the British team GB Snowsport last year.
“Since Day One, we asked ourselves, how do you put fashion into ski, and the technicality of ski into fashion,” he said. “We wanted this brand to become a global brand.”
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