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Aigle shifts to lifestyle and targets expansion

French brand Aigle is switching its strategy from an outdoor to a lifestyle brand by upping the design and quality credentials of its clothing and footwear lines and refocusing its distribution channels.

Aigle, best known for its rubber boots, will focus on UK casualwear and footwear independents and is planning to up its clothing stockists by between 60 and 100 and increase its footwear customers by 50 stockists in the next two years. Currently, it has 275 UK stockists across clothing and footwear. For autumn 09, luxury department store Harrods will increase its Aigle offer by 300%.

Aigle’s UK business, which accounts for about 4% of global sales, increased turnover by 24% last year to €4.2 million (£3.75m).

Artistic director Gideon Day attributed the growth to Aigle’s flourishing clothing business. “When I joined about three-and-a-half years ago we were trying to be like The North Face, but now we want to be more premium, more like Napapijri,” he said. “Clothing is making the real change. We’re focusing on details, trims and silhouettes, and improving the quality of the fabrics.”
Leather will be used for the first time in the autumn 09 collection, with outerwear and knitwear the strongest product categories.

Day added that prices would gradually increase season on season to reflect the upgrade in quality of the fabrics and design. “We want the technical and ecological side of the brand to be invisible and for people to wear the clothes because they like the product, not because it’s waterproof and made from organic cotton,” said Day.

Key pieces for autumn 09 include a waterproof and breathable duffle coat and a military-style, merino and recycled wool-mix jacket.

Average prices include £65 for outerwear, £25 for knitwear and £20 for shirts. Call 01488 649176 for details.

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