Another French Designer House Shifts from Ready-to-Wear to Focus on Fragrance & Couture

By Kenneth Richard | The Impressionist

French fashion house Viktor & Rolf dropped a bomb today on their ready-to-wear collection, announcing they would discontinue to produce it after Fall 2015 to focus on couture and fragrances. The move follows on the heels of Jean Paul Gaultier’s recent closure of his 38 year old ready-to-wear business to do the same.

The move by Dutch designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren was made in partnership with majority shareholder OTB Group, the holding of Renzo Rosso, owner of Diesel. Rosso described the shift as “a strategic decision to position the Viktor & Rolf brand in the highest luxury segment of fashion.”

We feel a strong need to refocus on our artistic roots. We have always used fashion to communicate, it is our primary means of artistic expression. Ready-to-wear (with its fast pace, many deadlines and fierce competition) started to feel creatively restricting. By letting go of it, we gain more time and freedom.

Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren

Viktor & Rolf  launched in 1993 and started showing couture in 1998, with ready-to-wear following in 2000. The RTW collection ships to more than 100 specialty stores and operates a freestanding store on Rue Saint Honoré in Paris, which will close in early 2016. In 2005, the house launched their first women’s fragrance, Flowerbomb, in collaboration with L’Oréal.v&r.001

A spokesperson for L’Oréal confirmed their commitment to the brand, “The decision to focus on haute couture is a strategic decision by the house of Viktor & Rolf to position the brand in the highest luxury segment of fashion. We are confident that our strong collaboration with Viktor & Rolf will continue to see the launch of many successful fragrances.”

The move is viewed by industry experts as another sign of the difficulties in building a profitable designer business in a market that is heavily competitive and over-saturated. The success of Viktor & Rolf’s fragrance business, which includes Flowerbomb, Spice Bomb, and BonBon, along with its licensed eyewear business with Paget Group, allows for a new business model. That of leveraging the drama and press of a couture show to drive brand awareness and credibility and monetize via licensing revenue. It is a well focused strategy that more and more brands are looking at as the market isn’t exploding, it is imploding.v&r.002