With its Planet London brand, Jacques Vert Group aims to join the growing firmament of British brands succeeding in the US market.
After a series of false starts, it seems British fashion retailers are finally making serious inroads into the US market. Look no further than New York’s Fifth Avenue, where the likes of Topshop, Ted Baker and Karen Millen have all set up shop. Now Jacques Vert Group, a quintessentially British company - despite the French twist to its name - is determined to put down a marker.
The womenswear business, founded in 1972 by East End-born Jack Cynamon and Alan Green, who combined French versions of their names, has launched the Planet London brand Stateside this month to do just that. Not to be confused with Planet, one of Jacques Vert Group’s major brands in the UK, Planet London is a new, separately designed premium outerwear range targeted at North American customers.
The brand began being sold in the US this week through New York department store Lord & Taylor’s website. The store has taken eight styles from the autumn 14 collection, which in its entirety comprises 20 items including quilted jackets, padded coats and parkas with fake-fur trims, all designed in the UK. Retail prices range from $398 (£234) to $798 (£469). Ten Hudson’s Bay stores in Canada will also start stocking the brand later this month, and it will also be available through the retailer’s website, thebay.com.
In July, Jacques Vert began showing a second capsule range of lightweight Planet London coats for spring 15. One buyer at the preview in New York, who prefers not to be named but works for a major New York department store, says having ‘London’ as part of a brand name will attract US customers.
“It’s synonymous with fashion,” he says. “The silhouette [of the spring 15 coats] isn’t necessarily different, but the spin on London is the selling point.”
Just being British is not enough though, he says. “As a buyer I have to make sure the product makes sense and fills a need. And I have to make sure the value/price relationship is there, with a good mark-up that manages the risk [of taking on a new brand].”
Kate Skitt, the brand controller who oversees buying and design for Planet, Planet London and another of Jacques Vert’s brands, Windsmoor, says it was important to design with American customers in mind. “Planet London is a bit sexier than our product in the UK,” she explains.
The range includes more belted styles, nipped-in waists and narrower shoulder points and arms. “It’s completely different to Planet, a lifestyle brand oriented around workwear.”
If the launch is a success, Jacques Vert will try to push into other US department stores for autumn 15. After that the sky’s the limit, Skitt says, with separates and cold weather accessories among the possibilities.