Iris Epple-Righi, CEO of luxury womenswear brand Escada, explains how it hopes to appeal to a wider audience with its new store concept.
It was back in 1996 when Escada opened its first UK store on the Knightsbridge end of Sloane Street. And now, 22 years on, the luxury womenswear brand has moved into a new flagship a few doors down at number 129 – at the more “boutique” end of the road – which opened on October 26 2017.
Seeking to attract a younger, more digitally engaged audience, while retaining its loyal customers, Escada’s luxury pricing architecture remains unchanged (prices range from £95 for a silk-printed scarf to £1,850 for a dress). However, the new store concept is a departure from its outmoded, 1990s aesthetic: a stripped-back space leads all eyes to the product, and golden abstract lighting fixtures hang above minimalistic, Japanese paintings and a red floral – and oh-so Instagrammable – arrangement covers the facing wall as you enter.
Other than its store in Bicester Village, the new 1,400 sq ft shop is Escada’s only standalone UK store. However, this “new face” of Escada will be rolled out to its 100-plus worldwide store portfolio.
Why did you relocate to 129 Sloane Street?
”We were looking for a space closer to the energy of Sloane Square. This part of Chelsea is being redeveloped in a very exciting way with new restaurants, gyms and boutiques and it is fast becoming a go-to destination for a new generation of shoppers and diners.
”We’ve had a store in London since the early 1990s, and it’s so important to us as one of the key cities in the world. We’ve been on Sloane Street for a long time, and I really like the vibe.”
Why is now the right time to open the new shop?
It’s given us a good opportunity to show the new Escada – to portray its new face but also to create a new store concept.
Will there be further expansion in the UK?
We might look into other opportunities – I have my eye on some particular streets – but we definitely want to focus on London. It also depends on what opportunities come up, and what is available. We have our eyes open, let’s put it that way.
You already have more than 100 stores worldwide. Will you continue to expand globally?
We’re very well balanced around the globe. The US is very important for us, Europe is very strong for us. Then there’s Japan – it’s probably our most advanced market within Asia, but I think Asia still has a lot of potential for us.
Will Escada’s new face resonate with UK customers?
Totally. We’ve been on the market for a long time, so we already have a lot of loyal customers here, and, as London is so international, we have a very big group of international customers who spend a lot of time here too. Here [on Sloane Street], we’ll attract more of a local neighbourhood too.
Will you increase your number of wholesale accounts?
I totally see more potential on our wholesale side, as long as it’s with the right brand environment. We have a luxury product, and it needs to sit in a luxury environment.
You joined Escada from Calvin Klein in September 2016, and have previously worked at Tommy Hilfiger. What will your luxury background bring to Escada?
We’re working on getting Escada back to being a modern brand right now. We’ve focused on our loyal customers a lot, which we love doing, but I think there’s a lot of potential to [engage] a wider audience. So we’re working on our product and really exploring accessories because, as we all know, in our luxury market segment accessories play a very big role.
We’re also working on our digital element. We hired a new global vice-president of marketing and communication, Marco Raab, from Red Bull in August. We’re also looking at our social media strategy and, as the world becomes more digital, we’ll become more digital as a brand.