After private equity investment firm VMG Partners last December took a majority stake in the company, — which includes Pour La Victoire and Kelsi Dagger footwear and handbags, and Loquita handbags — the firm is forging ahead with a revamped business plan, from marketing and retail strategy to design and production.
“This is an evolution,” said co-founder and creative director David Giordano. “Now there’s no pressure to make a short-term decision that will hurt the brand.”
As part of the deal, Giordano has put together a new team, including Scott Home, president and COO; Steve Winslett, CFO; and Lottie Oakley, EVP of marketing and merchandising.
“There’s not one element of the brand that’s not being turned on its head and evaluated,” said Oakley, a former associate publisher at Vogue.
Marketing and branding are big priorities for the company going forward. It has tapped advertising guru Richard Kirshenbaum’s Nue Studio Group and hired talent management and production firm LBI Entertainment, a partner of VMG.
“What we’re going to be able to do through LBI Entertainment is leverage our relationships in the marketing, retail and influencer communities to build awareness of the brand,” said Dave Baram, managing director at VMG. “You have great brands, but now you have branding behind it that will extend the reach,” added Oakley.
The Pour La Victoire label retails for $200 to $400 at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and 250 indepen- dents. Kelsi Dagger is priced at $75 to $250 and sells at Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Belk and 300 independents. Moving forward, the executives hope a bigger marketing presence will lead to stronger wholesale relationships.
“We’re focusing on a sell-in strategy with our core accounts which will lead to a greater sell-through. The natural evolution is creating more demand for the product,” said Oakley.
Production is also being overhauled. Before VMG Partners invested in the company, the brands were manufactured in 42 factories, mostly in China. Now the labels are produced in 12 factories, nine of which are completely new. “It’s very tightened and cleaned up,” said Home, who joined PLV Studio in December.
With more than 30 years in the footwear business, Home has connected PLV Studio with many of the factories he’s worked with before. “We really want to take more control,” he said. “We don’t want to do things to add volume. We want to do things to add value to the bottom line of what we’re doing as a company.”
Where PLV Studio isn’t scaling back is internally. The number of employees has doubled since teaming up with VMG. “We’re just putting more eyes on every aspect of the business, so nothing falls through the cracks,” Home said. “We want to run it like a small company, but execute and perform like a big one.”
According to Baram, that’s exactly what VMG will facilitate. “What we were able to do with VMG and LBI is come in and make sure the leaders in the company are able to focus on what they do best and make sure they have the capital resources, infrastructure and systems,” said Baram.
Giordano, for example, is able to concentrate more on the creative direction of the brand. “It’s going to take the shoes up a quantum leap,” he said.
The moves come as the contemporary market continues to grow, with more brands making a play for the segment and retailers demanding contemporary product. “In 2008, [when Pour La Victoire launched], there was a wide open space,” Giordano said, referring to the gap between $99 shoes and the luxury market. “Fast forward to today and there’s so much more competition in the market. To play in the big leagues you need to have professionals in every aspect.”
The new PLV Studio will begin to unveil at FFANY next week, though the official reveal will take place at FN Platform in August. “It’s our coming out party,” said Home. “We want to spread the excitement.”