The French brand is proudly pushing its heritage in a new lifestyle strategy fusing function and design.
Brands with a strong heritage are proving to be a hit with retailers looking for solid, reliable labels during the recession, and French brand Aigle is certainly playing on its 150-year history to transform itself from its rubber-boot roots to a fully-fledged lifestyle brand.
“In the UK we shied away from heritage but now we’re pushing it,” says creative director Gideon Day. “Heritage doesn’t equal old; it relates to iconic pieces. We’re a brand based on nature.”
But while Day wants to hold on to Aigle’s traditional values - those entrenched in functionality and the outdoors - he is also keen to up the design credentials of the brand, perfecting every trim and silhouette, and improving the quality of the fabrics.
So for spring 10, technical materials such as tear-proof ripstop nylon and watertight polyamide are combined with a tailored silhouette on pea jackets and trench coats, while patchwork and embroidery add extra interest. Natural fabrics include coated linen and cotton-linen twill, and a nautical colour palette mixes with vivid accents of lime yellow and gloss pink.
Elsewhere in the collection, traditional striped sailor’s shirts and jumpers, deck trousers, checked shirts for men and Liberty-inspired prints for women nod to the brand’s roots in sailing and travel. Average prices are £65 for outerwear, £25 for knitwear and £20 for shirts.
In line with Aigle’s outdoor heritage, the brand has developed a Think Green strategy. Eco products represent 30% of Aigle’s offer. Jackets, trousers and shorts made of 100% organic cotton and adorned with palm ivory and mother-of-pearl buttons sit under the Aigle Organics line. The brand has also developed its first eco shoe for spring 10, designed with an upper in full-grain leather and a sole made of 95% natural rubber.
However, Day says: “People don’t want to look like hippies. We want them to buy Aigle because they like the product. While we can’t afford not to be in fashion, we’re not a fashion-led brand; it’s all about the cut and the fabrics.”
General manager Romain Guinier believes it will take Aigle between two and three years to complete its reinvention. “Autumn 09 saw the start of that fusion [between function and style],” he says. “We’re targeting the UK and Germany in particular because Aigle is a more northern European than southern European brand. Business in Germany has doubled in three years.”
In the UK, where the brand has 275 UK stockists and which accounts for about 4% of global sales, turnover grew 24% last year to €4.2m (£3.5m).
Aigle 01488 649170 www.aigle.com
Mark-up on Aigle’s collection
Number of pieces in the collection
The brand’s target age group