Specialized in retail and digital communication, this agency, coordinated by a duo of entrepreneurs, advises brands and fashion designers. Meeting with Marie Soudr-Richard and Hlne Guerret, co-founders of The Paris Collective.
TLmag: The Collective: it is certainly not a trivial name. Why did you choose it?
Hlne Guerret: Before founding our agency, Marie and I worked for big brands. We were aware that each designer and label has their own challenges. Hence the need to create a panel of experts in style, retail, production, digital strategy, etc.
Marie Soudr-Richart: From the outset, we wanted to position ourselves alongside the consumer, rather than limiting ourselves to a single customer profile. The objective of each coaching is to anchor the activity of the brand or the project in the fashion sector.
TLmag: It is also a sector in upheaval. What advice would you give to a newbie designer or brand?
HG: These days every brand is digital. The question is no longer to determine the relevance of a digital strategy. Brands need to think in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Before, brands needed a good stylistic positioning. Today, it is essential that they reflect on their true vocation, on the message they want to convey.
MSR: Who could still be satisfied with wanting to dress any woman? No one. Today, a brand must identify its objectives: relocate its production, position itself as inclusive, become the leading employer in its region, adopt an innovative and proactive environmental policy. The marketing argument is secondary. What matters is proving that whatever brand commitments are being met. Before proving it to its customers, the brand must be credible with its employees. The recent Covid-19 crisis makes it clear that if promises are not followed by clear action, increasingly suspicious consumers will distance themselves from the product or the label.
TLmag: Is it more difficult than before to launch and especially to root a brand?
HG: Seeing the market down, you could argue that, but I think, on the contrary, our current reality makes it more interesting. Before, the abundance of products could give rise to a certain disgust. Today, we find ourselves in the presence of brands which, in order to continue to exist, give meaning to their approach. Take the example of Patagonia. This brand is not only very dynamic in the field of the outdoors, but also acts to protect the environment by involving its employees in each project.
TLmag: What is your perspective on the Belgian brands that you have coached in recent years.
MSR: For the smallest brands, we notice that they generally come from a good initial intuition, but often struggle because of a lack of structure. If we take the case of the Belgian project Bonjour Maurice, which we coached in partnership with WBDM, we got the founders to express their intentions and to position themselves with their competitors. For the Les Filles Papa brand, more established but still very niche, our objective was to help them at a pivotal moment in their career, when they wanted to broaden their offer in order to grow, but without losing their DNA.
TLmag: Speaking of growth, you work a lot in fundraising. Here too, mentality and practices have changed a lot.
HG: Some brands, whether multidisciplinary or working with external collaborators specializing in areas where they themselves lack knowledge, have real growth potential, even if they are niche products. . This is the case with Bonjour Maurice. At a specific time in their career, they need investors to make their projects sustainable. A brand that does not look at growth from a global perspective by integrating production processes, but also by transforming products, has no reason to exist. This reality requires the creation of new tools capable of supporting eco-circularity. Bonjour Maurice had the good idea to visit the lita.co crowdfunding site, which focuses on brands with a social, societal or environmental vocation. This brought the brand in contact with investors who share their values. For us, this is where the real challenge lies.
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