Brian Rennie, the former Ultimo and Escada designer who this week became creative director of mainstream womenswear giant Basler, has vowed to “up the brand’s sex appeal” and introduce a range of red-carpet dresses.
Rennie said Basler was targeting a 50% increase in turnover from E170m (£146.3m) to “at least” E250m (£215.2m) in the next five years, and that he would take lessons from “the old Escada”, where he worked for 20 years.
Escada was renowned for full-length evening gowns and dressed the likes of Kim Basinger for the Oscars in the late 1990s. Basler, which was founded in Germany in 1936, has traditionally been known for its co-ordinated separates.
Speaking exclusively to Drapers, Rennie said: “Basler has a reputation for very good quality and fit, and for being nice and colourful, but it is also known as being very safe. I want to up the sex appeal and get it onto the red carpet. I want to introduce long evening gowns. I don’t want it to just be about head -to-toe co-ordinates.
“My goal is to keep our traditional customers happy, but to bring more fashion-forward customers to the brand.”
Basler will stage a catwalk show at Berlin Fashion Week in July or next year, to highlight its red-carpet credentials, but Rennie said it wanted to occupy the top end of the premium market rather than move into luxury. It will not adjust its prices upwards.
However, the brand plans a shake-up of its 205 stockists in the UK and Republic of Ireland, and is targeting premium department store chains such as Selfridges and House of Fraser. “I’d like to get away from small, classic department store [stockists] and into more fashion-forward ones,” Rennie added.
Rennie moved to Frankfurt this week to take up the new role of creative director and managing director of design, and has been appointed to the Basler board. The move precipitated a public spat with Ultimo founder Michelle Mone about his resignation.
For more on Rennie’s row with Michelle Mone, visit www.drapersonline.com