MFW: A glimpse into Moncler’s “Genius” collections, history and strategy

On Wednesday, 19thof September, the Bocconi Students for Fashion team had the opportunity to attend the Moncler Presentation Event in Milan at Fabbrica Orobio 15. The event presented Moncler Genius, a new project inaugurated in February of this year which encompasses 8 designers working on 8 different capsule collections – all of which are inspired by the iconic Moncler down jacket. The collections were launched one at a time over the course of 8 months: this unorthodox method of presentation aimed to keep customers perennially desiring something new while moving the brand closer to the world of fast fashion.

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But let’s take a step back and look at the history of Moncler. The company was founded in 1952 in a small town next to Grenoble called Monestier de Clermont – which is where the abbreviation “Moncler” comes from. Initially, they made only sporting garments for mountaineering but they quickly gained visibility when they became the official suppliers of the Italian expedition to K2 (1954), the French expedition to Makalù (1955) and the French skiing team during the winter Olympics in Grenoble.

In the 70’s and 80’s the Moncler brand became increasingly popular among young consumers which culminated in the wide-spread distribution of their signature down-jackets and the explosion of a fashion phenomenon. Their slogan was – and remains to this day – “Born in the mountains, lives in the city”.

In 1992 the French company was acquired by Pepper Company and transferred to the Italian luxury fashion company Fin.Part S.p.A. in 1998. In 1999, the new Creative Director Remo Ruffi started a repositioning strategy to promote the Moncler brand as a luxury high brand fashion company and focus on it’s exclusivity. As part of this repositioning strategy, he launched “Gamme Rouge”, the first high-end collection dedicated to women, in order to diversify the range of products while following the theme of exclusivity. Shortly after, the first Moncler collection dedicated to men was launched under the name “Gamme Bleu”.

In 2013 the company underwent divisional restructuring: Moncler’s “luxury” divisions were separated from their “casual wear” divisions. Due to their continued aim of rebranding as a luxury fashion brand and the difficult competitive environment of the casual wear industry, the company sold their casual wear division in November of 2013.

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Because the company’s product offer and brand image is based on extremely high quality, Moncler’s business model includes direct oversight over all critical phases of the production chain. They directly oversee the purchasing of raw materials and all creative & design processes occurring at the beginning of the value creation process. The raw materials (such as feathers, textiles and accessories) are only purchased from countries that are able to meet their extremely high quality standards, such as Italy or Japan.

Further down the value creation process, Moncler outsources to manufacturers only the “cut-make-trim” phase of the production process – these manufacturers are located mainly in Eastern European countries but the company carries out direct supervision by conducting audits designed to check aspects regarding product quality, brand protection and compliance with current laws and human rights. However, for their more high-end product lines such as Gamme Bleu and Gamme Rouge, production takes place exclusively in Italy as the manufacturing requires special techniques and know-how.

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Moncler’s focus on direct oversight is also seen in it’s distribution strategy: their retail channel consists of directly operated stores (DOS) which make up 62% of consolidated revenues – this figure is quite high in the fashion industry. Of course, they also sell through online stores and and through the wholesale channel, represented by multi-brand doors and shop-in-shops in department stores, which allows Moncler to be present in all major markets.

The philosophy of the Moncler Group is focused on creating unique products of outstanding quality that are timeless, versatile and innovative. The motto “born in the mountains, lives in the city” explains how the Moncler brand evolved from a producer of sporting garments in a tiny French mountain town to an internationally known brand with goods that consumers of all ages, identities, origins and cultures love to wear on any occasion.

Martina

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