Sneakers are Here to Stay, Says Browns Fashion

Browns wants to take risks and inject fun into retail.

For spring 2019 it has been working toward 45 launches, introducing brands old and new into its edit, while also keeping an international outlook, with its eyes on South Korea and Georgia in particular.

Jil Sander, Mugler and Paco Rabanne are some of the established names returning to the retailer, while other newcomers include specialized dress brands Les Rêveries and Silvia Tcherassi, as well as Plan C by the Marni founding family Castiglioni.

“It’s a new moment, with its own voice and signature. Marni filled a void and it was important to fill it, but this is like nothing you’ve seen before,” said Ida Petersson, the retailer’s women’s wear buying director.

The company is also adding to its accessories lineup with the Israeli handbag label Complét, known for its quirky shapes; the Korean handbag label Gu_de, whose signatures include croc-effect, structured totes; Roker, which makes one-of-a-kind boots and has shot to fame after collaborating with Charles Jeffrey, and Aranaz, which is known for its handwoven baskets.

“We were looking for pieces you want to have fun with outside the classic beach bag,” added Petersson, pointing to an Aranaz crab-shaped straw bag in the retailer’s spring buy.

Collaborations are another big part of the retailer’s strategy, to ensure it can add these “fun injections” to its usual rhythm of deliveries.

For next season it is planning to bring back a number of heritage names, from storied shoemaker Charles Jourdan to Jordache, loved for its designer jeans in the Seventies and Eighties.

“The shapes and the logo are just so cool. We felt that doing something with denim was needed, it feels much more relevant right now,” added Petersson.

Ashish will also be debuting an all-pink capsule with a feminist twist, while GmbH is set to launch a range of sneakers with Asics, exclusively for the retailer.

“Sneakers in the women’s wear department are here to stay and there’s a move towards real performer brands. We are embracing a more sporty, active lifestyle,” said Petersson, also pointing to the launch of Salomon sneakers and the array of luxury brands embracing sport’s wear, from Calvin Klein’s wet suits, to Marine Serre’s sporty printed leggings.

“Marine had an issue a lot of young designers have, in that her collection delivered late. But the love from the customers was incredible. There’s few designers people are willing to wait for, even from the big ones, but this blew up. We have two pieces left hanging at the back [of the Browns East space,]” added Petersson.

Elsewhere, the retailer said it’s also standing behind labels such as Tbilisi, Georgia-based Situationist and Wright Le Chapelain, which stand out for their elegant, pared back aesthetic that feels like a “celebration of old Celine.”

Petersson has also been revitalizing the company’s fashion jewelry department to reflect the creative, bold approach the retailer takes across its other fashion categories, by adding new niche labels and a broader range of price points.

Now the retailer is unveiling a refurbished jewelry section in its South Molton Street boutique and continuing to sprinkle its offer with new names, including Hermina Athens known for its bohemian take on fine jewelry, Mateo which offers more accessible prices and Loren Stewart which hails from L.A., “a key market for fine jewelry,” according to Petersson.

Last season, Browns set up a department that specializes in scouting new talent from across the globe. New York-based Area; Asai, a favorite among the Fashion East collective; Canadian label Marco known for experimenting with vegan leather; Rotate, a Danish label set up by two local influencers during Copenhagen Fashion Week, and Ten Pieces, an Australian brand that mainly works through pop-ups, are some of the new additions to Browns’ New Gen department.

“We are now also looking to segment the category, because what these designers do is so diverse. It can’t all go under the New Gen umbrella,” added Petersson.

This story was reported by WWD and originally appeared on WWD.com.

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