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Clement has over 20 years of experience in the luxury goods industry in Asia. He joined Cartier as a Retail Manager in 1997 where he managed 12 boutiques and over 80 points of sales across APAC. Clement then joined Goyard, the luxury french brand, where he built the brand’s distribution network in Asia for 5 years. He then joined RIMOWA, the luxury luggage maker owned by LVMH, where he opened new locations and built out distribution with malls and boutiques across the region.Read moreView Profile Page
I joined RIMOWA right after it was purchased by LVMH, with the intention of making it a true luxury brand. RIMOWA, when I joined, was a beautiful and amazing product and a well-recognized product. Most of the hard work had already been done. That luggage, with the grooves, was very well-recognized in most markets, around the world, especially in Asia, thanks to the initial investment that had been done. But yet, the brand itself was not very well-known. Most of my immediate friends and family had no idea what RIMOWA was.
Clearly, we need to build the brand and build brand equity, beyond only, a simple luggage with grooves. That’s what the team went on and did. One of the key levers, I would say, that we used to do that, were the partnerships. As I mentioned earlier, I think the Supreme partnership with Louis Vuitton was a fantastic example, so we did it, as well, at RIMOWA. We did it in very selective locations. We did it in very selective quantities and it was a very powerful tool. It was an extremely powerful tool to change, in the eyes of potential business partners, such as shopping mall partners, but also in the eyes of the customers, obviously, the brand value, the brand image, literally, overnight.
It shows that it’s possible. But when you carefully craft the right story and the right impact for your brand, you can change overnight. But yet, what people don’t realize is, that RIMOWA was already a strong product. It didn’t come out of nowhere. It would not have worked in the same way, if the brand was totally new or the product was not a strong product. It only worked because the base was very strong. Supreme brought on the only thing that was missing to RIMOWA, which was branding. That strong brand name, they had it. They had no product; they only had a brand. We only had products, but no brand. So it was a perfect match.
It brought that desire for the brand, that craving. People were crazy about finding the luggage. They went online. Some sold for close to $8,000 on eBay, so crazy amounts of money, for luggage. That worked well, for RIMOWA. That’s what we did. In parallel, obviously, the groundwork was about aligning the distribution network with the new strategy of the brand. Therefore, we internalized a lot of the distribution. As it has been said in the press, so I can talk about it, but the brand decided to go and work directly in some markets, in order to control distribution, relocate the stores, invest in capex with the new image that the brand has, which are fantastic LVM and stock concepts. Very modern and the opposite of what it was before, because LVMH had the financial means and capacity to heavily invest in the brand, to turn around, which was done very successfully, by the way.
A unique story. I always say unique, because every story is unique. We took RIMOWA with, again, a relatively weak branding, but a strong product base. It is not often the case. If you look at old brand, they tend to have a strong brand and a weak product offer. RIMOWA was the opposite of that.
Do you mean a distribution partner?
It brought to RIMOWA, what RIMOWA was lacking. Appeal to young customers and super-strong branding and excitement. It was a German, beautifully engineered product but rather a Germanic brand, in a way. A bit old-school, a bit boring. Supreme was at the opposite spectrum of the market. Extremely exciting, completely hyper street fashion and really for young people, with limited editions and so on. Everything that was not RIMOWA. By getting those two together, it created a very strong offer, in a beautifully designed package. Really nice and aligned the product offer; very modern. It really helped the brand to stand out in the market.