Sex sells, and so do sneakers.
Philipp Plein feels optimistic as his business returns from COVID-19, with plans to open a new showroom in Milan via Burlamacchi later this year (the still difficult venue, which spans 15,000 feet squares, served as a party and screening space for her spring 2022 show movie starring Megan Fox). He is also preparing to open a restaurant, bar and club “and maybe even a hotel” in a historic building in Milan next year. But the ink is not yet dry, so he did not give more details.
Plein’s sneakers, displayed as glittering treasures from an Egyptian tomb on the roof of the new building, will generate around € 70 million in revenue this year, he said. This represents around 30% of the brand’s turnover, which is expected to exceed 200 million euros.
The designer and businessman believes his new omnichannel direction is also paying off, with half of all sales now coming from the internet, and more than $ 20 million of those generated by Farfetch alone. The designer said his collection of men’s clothing is still one of the best performing on the site. Brick-and-mortar stores remain a big part of the strategy, however, and Plein plans to open a total of 27 stores by the end of 2021. There are currently 95 Philipp Plein stores and 26 billionaire units.
The business has had a few rough years, with a major restructuring in 2019, a new focus on digital and direct-to-consumer channels and COVID, of course, hammering the company’s bottom line. Plein said late last year that he expected sales to decline by 30% in 2020. Earlier this year he also faced an employee discrimination lawsuit before a New York court, and strongly denied the allegations.
Judging by the lavish party in the new showroom – Team Plein painted the walls in graffiti while German pastry chef Ernst Knam set a banquet table with frozen candies in white, purple and gold; and novelty vodka, prosecco and martinis have flowed afloat – things are certainly improving.
There was a sinister side to the evening though, with bartenders and waiters wearing white bunny heads – a telltale sign that Steven Klein was somewhere nearby.
The digital film, “Night Games”, could easily have been called the Plein-Klein show. The two have collaborated for nearly a decade and worked together on the film, a lush production that tackles themes of law, isolation and emptiness. Filmed by Klein at night at Plein’s house in Bel Air, Chateau Falconview, it was a cross between “Eyes Wide Shut” and a flashy, violent video game – plus creepy bunnies.
Fox wore all kinds of pieces from the collection, including a short strapless ballerina dress with a jungle print inspired by the decor of the Bel Air Mansion guesthouse. “Megan wanted it to be shorter for the movie, so we made it shorter – obviously,” Plein said on a tour of the collection, which lit up like Vegas at night. Looks included a bespoke gold sequined suit, silver skyscraper platforms and other ‘knife-like’ heels and bespoke sunglasses edged with large Preciosa crystals. Fox spent most of the film covered in sparkles and jingling jewelry, right down to tiny crystal tears planted on his cheek.
Plein customers will no doubt want to show their money and their flesh, once this collection hits stores or on the Farfetch screen.
There is more to come. The German designer doesn’t just speak to wealthy women who cry crystal tears, or muscular men in ripped denim and shimmering lapel jackets. During COVID, Plein said it has signed eight licensing agreements, including watches, furniture, wallpaper and children’s clothing, while its first eyewear campaign (also pictured by Klein) will be released later this year.
He’s busy growing the business again and he loves it. Asked him what he liked most about his daily job, he didn’t hesitate. “I like to do whatever I want, do it my way. I don’t see myself as part of this industry and have always considered myself a foreigner looking.
Plein added that, given all the consolidation in fashion and luxury lately, he is proud to be the head of an independent and self-funded company. His biggest problem now, he said, is finding enough retail staff for the 27 new stores, as some people are reluctant to return to work as the holidays and stimulus programs begin to end. .
He will persist. The self-taught businessman said that in order to start a business, you “have to run into your face so many times, learn from your mistakes and hope not to overdo it”.