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Kiabi's "trends lab", or fashion recipes at low prices

Kiabi’s “trends lab”, or fashion recipes at low prices

What insolence at almost 40 years old! Kiabi, the number one in ready-to-wear in France (ahead of H&M and Galeries Lafayette), continues to look younger. Launched in the North in 1978 around the concept of fashion at low prices for the whole family, the brand from the Mulliez galaxy has even just afforded the luxury of winning third place in the Great Place to Work ranking, which rewards companies with more of 5,000 employees where it is good to work in France.

A 4.5% increase in growth in 2016, a turnover of 1.8 billion euros which could be doubled within five years (half abroad) and a number of employees constantly in increase (8,200 in 2015, 8,700 today and 14,000 by 2022): how has Kiabi managed to hold its own in a sluggish clothing market since 2007?

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At the group’s headquarters, in the Lille metropolis, Alexandre Pesty, artistic director, presented to the press, Thursday, March 23, the recipes for this success. “For four years, we have had an in-house trend laboratory with concept designers”he says. This “trends lab” is led by fifty-six stylists and graphic designers.

“Capturing the spirit of the times”

To renew collections with a constant flow, these researchers build the seasons around a now well-established pattern. Alexandre Pesty takes members of his team to major European capitals for a few days to “capturing the spirit of the times”. Visits to museums, discovery of architecture, cultural diving: these stopovers, sources of inspiration, allow them to return to the lab with 3,000 to 4,500 photos, snapshots of moments of life. In Tallinn, an Estonian city in the throes of change, the Kiabi teams have thus found “Soviet industry” themes for this winter. The shelves of 349 stores in France are currently displaying the collection inspired by their stay at the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art. “We create fashion scenarios with our gleaned trendssays Alexandre Pesty. And we regularly go shopping in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Tokyo, a city we love for its street looks[mode de la rue]. »

In the premises in Hem, a few kilometers from Lille, the stylists are accompanied by the product managers to ensure the six collections a year, respecting the slogan of “fashion at low prices”. “When the designers create patterns, we contact our central purchasing office based in Hong Kong to see what is feasible”, explains Constance Dubois, product manager. To reduce costs, an item may be limited to a few different colors. With a catalog of eighty tones (range of colours), Kiabi releases more than one hundred new products in stores and on its e-shop each week. And the range of accessories – shoes, lingerie, swimwear, jewelry – continues to grow. “We also reduce costs on tips”, adds Mr. Pesty. Adaptation of seams, rationalization of materials, assembly of zips, etc. : Kiabi likes to remind you that all the pockets of its millions of jeans sold each year around the world have been standardized to save a few tens of euro cents per piece. The prototyping is not carried out in France, the patronages are sent directly to suppliers abroad.

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