PRESS // WWD INTERVIEWS CEO & CREATIVE DIRECTOR BENJAMIN VERGNION
Etiquette Clothiers wants to bring a stylish new standard to the underwear, loungewear and sock markets on a global scale.
The demand for luxury innerwear and socks is positioning the new brand on a fast track for growth, said Benjamin Vergnion, chief executive officer and creative director of New York-based Etiquette Clothiers. He described the concept of the brand, which was launched in July 2011, as offering consumers the “world’s most proper basics.”
“Our goal is first and foremost to establish ourselves as a reference and authority on socks and underwear,” said Vergnion. “We believe in the philosophy of slow wear and perfecting the basics. These were the underlying fundamentals when creating Etiquette Clothiers..The result is a well-crafted, broad yet carefully curated line of socks, underwear and loungewear for men, women and kids.”
Vergnion described the brand’s philosophy this way: “Etiquette Clothiers is all about obsession with detail. We don’t just manufacture or sell basics, we do provide an experience.. that starts with the packaging and extends throughout all our products. Some of our unique features include our signature 40-1 certified organic combed cotton men’s White Label underwear and loungewear line, the luxurious Black Label men’s line featuring trunks in Supima cotton, boxer shorts in Sea Island cotton with a Supima net, with both styles carrying natural mother-of-pearl buttons polished on both sides as well as a reserve button in case one gets lost with time.
“All of our underwear features cotton waistbands,” he continued. The made-in-Italy socks come in 30-1 combed cotton and 40-1 mercerized Sea Island cotton with Etiquette’s logo on the toe.
In July, the firm will launch a collaborative collection of socks with Robert Geller. Geller featured Etiquette’s socks at his New York Fashion Week runway show in February.
The brand was launched in the U.S. and Japan last summer and entered the European market in January with distributors in Austria, Germany, France, Benelux, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and the U.K
Julien Jonchere, a partner and director of sales for Etiquette Clothiers, noted that numerous markets have opened up for the luxury label.
“Other distributors include Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and an additional focus for fall-winter 2012 will include Scandinavia, South East Asia and the Middle East,” he added.
Sales performance has been strong in the first eight months in the international marketplace, said Jonchere.
“In less than six months we have accumulated over 300 doors within some of the most influential top-tier retailers globally. In the U.S., our accounts include Barneys New York, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Scoop, Steven Alan, Brooklyn Circus, Fred Segal, Ron Robinson, American Rag, Giggle, Sweet William, Pomme, Les Petit Chapelais and Poppy to name a select few. Japan would be our second-largest growing market with accounts like United Arrows, Takashimaya, Super A Market, Tomorrowland, Estnation, Relume Journal Standard,” said Jonchere.
Jonchere projected global wholesale sales for 2012 will be “conservatively $6 million, not including direct online sales.”
“I have to say our kids segment for underwear and socks has already surpassed all our expectations. Not sure if this is linked to a global baby boom or simply filling a niche for quality-driven kids basics that are harder than ever to find,” said Jonchere.
Suggested retail for men’s and women’s White Label socks is $16 to $20, while Black Label socks are $26; men’s Black Label innerwear is $58 to $62 and men’s White Label innerwear is $30 to $100. Women’s White Label briefs and tanks are $65 and $32, respectively. The White Label sock line for kids is $16 for a two-pack and a White Label sock line for babies retails for $30 and $60 for a six-pack.
Vergnion noted that the next evolution for the brand will be to develop a collection of women’s loungewear with short and long-sleeve tops, camisoles, pants and shorts.
“On the sockwear side, many of our customers have been requesting tights, knee-high and thigh-high socks. This is in the works for spring 2013,” he said.
In addition to innerwear and socks, Etiquette Clothiers offers an assortment of related accessories such as a special edition detergent by The Laundress, sock garters by John Graytok, sock laundry clips by Sockstar, cedar boxes, drawer dividers, hanging carousel drying racks, darning tools, sewing kits, organic scented sachets, intimates travel and laundry bags.
“I would say this already qualifies us as a ‘basics’ lifestyle brand. The rest will come in due time,” said Vergnion.