Dec 14, 2023
American Vintage is stepping up the pace of its internationalisation. The fashion label founded 18 years ago in Marseilles by Michael Azoulay, a genuine success story among local brands, is planning to add to its growing international presence by opening new stores in Europe, Asia and the USA.
The American-style-inspired label has strengthened its roots on the US market, which it first tested during the pandemic by opening a directly operated store in New York in February 2021. American Vintage has set its sights on opening about 15 extra stores in the country by 2025, in cities like Malibu, Austin, and Los Angeles.
In Europe, the label opened its first store in Madrid in June, and in autumn it set foot in Ireland’s capital, Dublin, where it opened two stores, one for womenswear and another for menswear, at numbers 34 and 32 on Exchequer Street, a stone’s throw from the city’s medieval castle and Trinity College.
Strong focus on Asia
On November 9, American Vintage opened its fifth store in Hong Kong, inside the Elements shopping mall at 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui. It first established a presence in the city more than 12 years ago, and it is planning to open another store there soon.
The label is keen to extend its retail footprint in Asia, and is looking to do so especially in China, where it produces 20% of its collections, notably knitwear. “We will enter China via a joint venture with a local partner, and we are planning to open some 50 stores in the country in the next five years,” said Azoulay, the label’s founder and managing director. The strategy is to open stores in mega-cities like Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, and to back them with an online presence.
“It’s the right time for us to establish ourselves [in China], because the behaviour of Chinese consumers has changed. After the pandemic, they are less attracted by luxury goods, and are increasingly looking for comfortable lifestyle items instead,” said Azoulay, who launched the label on his own aged 23.
American Vintage currently operates 215 department store concessions (90% of them directly managed, 10% through franchisees) and 170 monobrand stores, including outlet stores. The wholesale channel accounts for 30% of the label’s revenue, direct physical retail for 55%, and e-tail for 15%.
The label is busy expanding in markets outside France, and it is also boosting its presence in the lifestyle segment. In May, it unveiled a first home collection, featuring tablecloths and napkins with a retro green check pattern. With the Fall/Winter 2023 collection, American Vintage has also broadened its childrenswear line, which was launched last year. It now caters to small children from three years of age, and adolescents up to 13.
New warehousing facilities
American Vintage, whose headquarters are located in Signes, 40 kilometres from Marseilles, has also said it is rethinking its warehousing facilities, to bolster its international expansion plans. “We’re investing in tomorrow’s logistics, it’s a real challenge because our whole business has to be fully integrated,” said Azoulay, who is working on these plans with his staff.
On the cards, a second, 9,000-square-metre warehouse, within which 1,500 square metres are set to be robotised and automated. It is to be located close to the existing warehouse, which will be partly converted into offices, and will also be home to a hall for master classes and training sessions.
American Vintage has hired extensively this year, growing the number of employees in its sales, web marketing and photography departments. It currently employs 180 people at headquarters, and over 900 worldwide.
The label is still owned and run as a family company, led by a trio consisting of Azoulay, his brother and sister. In 2023, it is expecting to generate a consolidated revenue of €150 million, slightly higher than last year, when it recorded a revenue of €140 million.
For the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, American Vintage is not planning to launch a specific capsule collection, but it intends to give voice to French athletes as it did for the recent Rugby World Cup, with French national team players Julien Marchand, Thomas Ramos and Gabin Villière.
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