My recent foray into investigating the invasion of French flair on the world of fashion and my exploration of the French brand Sandro opened my eyes to the vast numbers of smaller, independent brands out there which are really beginning to make a big impact on the international sartorial world. Currently, none are making more of an impact than fresh, French brand – The Kooples.
A relatively young brand, The Kooples was founded in France in July 2008, by three brothers – Alexandre, Laurent and Raphael Elicha. These brothers are the sons of the founders of the successful womenswear chain ‘Comptoir des Cotonniers’ so they have fantastic retail genes and a thirst for fashion in their blood. The brand has proven to be a massive hit in their native France and at only two and a half years old, there are already over 110 stores and concessions throughout France. Now The Kooples have made the jaunt across the English Channel with their first UK-based stores opening just before Christmas.
Not content with opening one UK-based store, The Kooples have gone the whole hog and simultaneously opened 3 stand-alone London-based stores (Carnaby Street, Kings Road and St. Christopher’s Place) as well as a concession in Oxford Street’s Selfridges, and stores in Birmingham and Manchester with plans for more on the way. Although a very young brand, The Kooples possesses a certain confident swagger and its unique and innovative advertising campaigns carry an air of self-assurance that gives the illusion that the brand has been around a lot longer than it actually has.
The collection itself gathers its inspiration from music – specifically rock and roll. Staying true to the rock and roll mentality, the collection for both men and women is very monotone and sober in colour featuring largely blacks, whites and greys with block colour chosen more over prints or patterns. The Kooples are described as being very ‘real’, understanding that the world in which we live is harsh and unforgiving – the brand states that ‘This World needs to acknowledge black is its base colour and that clothes have to fit the mood.’ The Kooples main objective is to avoid following trends and seasons, instead wanting to create a range of clothes which resist the passage of time and remain elegant for all eternity. This means the collection is sharp and simple, but with lots of character and detail.
Basics such as blazers and cardigans are given a quirky twist with military piping details, sewn-in pocket squares and coats of arms emblems. The collection includes several jackets and blazers in muted colours and different fabrics, as well as an on-trend quilted parka and wool overcoat with a detachable quilted breastplate section, adding unique embellishment. There is also a selection of sleek tailoring with sharp, tapered dress trousers and a slim-fit blazer. All of the jackets, tailored blazers and dress shirts and trousers are fine-tuned by Norton and Sons, one of Savile Row’s esteemed tailors. This means that the tailored pieces are anchored by a suit-maker who has roots in historical British quality and although the final product is not exactly custom-made, it is created in much the same spirit.
In terms of price, the cost of the collection trends towards the high-end of the high street, but currently the official website is offering a fantastic sale which means prices on many items from the collection have been slashed – a great time to splash the cash and treat yourself to something to cheer up the typical January/February blues.
‘Kooples’ is actually Parisian slang for ‘couples’, and the brand fully embraces the idea of a couple as a single entity, the idea of togetherness and sharing a certain sense of style. The Kooples’ ideology is rooted in famous rock and roll couples such as Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull, and Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin – couples who stood out as iconic and had a profound effect on fashion and music during their time. Recently The Kooples’ beautifully-shot and impeccably-styled photo campaigns have had a mini explosion here in London and these ads feature on the sides of buses and taxis all over the capital, as well as on the pages of magazines such as Esquire and GQ.
All of the adverts feature real-life couples who are gorgeously uber-stylish and effortlessly cool, nonchalantly stood around dressed from head to toe in items from The Kooples’ collection. The ads are appealing because it is not immediately obvious exactly what is being advertised – the ads draw you in, catch your imagination and pique your interest, making you want to find out more. By going to The Kooples website (www.thekooples.com) you can see that each of the couples featured in the advertising campaign also appear in a series of videos where they introduce themselves, talking about where they met and offering an insight into their lives together. This almost voyeuristic advertising campaign is not only brilliantly innovative and intimately unique in its use of different types of digital media, it also shows the couples’ successful fusion of attitude and style, and also allows you to see the clothes come to life and see how they move, sit and fall in reality.
The popularity of The Kooples is undeniable. For a brand as young as this to have made such a big impact in such a short period of time is testament to the quality and uniqueness of the collection. The quirky and innovative advertising campaign plays a huge part in attracting attention to The Kooples and the inventive way different types of digital media and social networking groups are used to promote the brand plays a major part in this attraction – something I think we will see more of from other brands in the future. The Kooples offer a range which is classic and timeless with added embellishments and details which add a quirky air to the collection. In the words of The Kooples themselves; ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s night or day, if you’re wearing The Kooples, it’s just plain chic.’
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