Notoriously aloof CÉLINE joins Instagram, announces plans to launch e-commerce

After 70 years of being one of the most aloof high fashion brands, Paris-based CÉLINE created an official Instagram account (@celine) and announced plans to launch an e-commerce branch on its official website, according to The Fashion Law.

[source: The Fashion Law]
“Despite being one of the most influential (and highly copied) fashion brands on the market, under the direction of Phoebe Philo, Céline has maintained a low profile in terms of its retail footprint and distribution chain,” writes The Fashion Law.

“Moreover, it has traditionally eschewed most digital channels, making it one of the new brands lacking a social media presence and a website without e-commerce capabilities–until recently, that is. The brand launched an official Instagram account this week.”

These big changes come on the heels of another big change at CÉLINE; namely, the appointment of the company’s new CEO Séverine Merle, who will take office April 1. CÉLINE is one of the final LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned house to launch an online store, following other big names such as Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Sephora, who have made significant sales via e-commerce.

CÉLINE ad campaign Spring 2017 [source: celine.com]
“Even if luxury purchases are not made online, the presence of an e-commerce strategy is essential, as more than 60 percent of luxury goods purchases, online or in-store, depend on what customers see on the web,” according to The Fashion Law.

As of February 28, CÉLINE amassed 56,700 Instagram followers and posted nine images in a few short days. Images include seven up-close shots of its Spring and Summer 2017 collections, as well as an apparent shot of a horse’s leg and one of an earthy lamppost captioned “Lamppost.”

“With the desirability created by Philo beginning in 2008, Céline’s sales are up and so, to meet demand, it has slowly moved to expand its retail network,” The Fashion Law writes.

“In September 2014, the brand opened its second brick-and-mortar store in New York – in Soho – the other New York location being uptown on Madison Avenue. This second New York store brought the total number of Céline stores in the U.S. to five (other locations include Bal Harbor, Las Vegas, and Beverly Hills).”

Pierre-Yves Roussel, Chairman and CEO of LVMH Fashion Group, insists CÉLINE’s e-commerce launch is crucial for showing “the breadth and depth of the collection,” according to British Vogue.

“We want to be very product-focused. It’s always been the motto of creative director Phoebe Philo since the very beginning,” Roussel continues.

Interestingly enough, Roussel is currently “filling the breach at CÉLINE since [former CEO Marco Gobbetti’s] departure” until Merle’s arrival at the company in April.

Gobbetti left the French fashion house last July after eight years. He is now poised to become Burberry’s next CEO, according to Business of Fashion; he will take the title from Christopher Bailey, who will in turn become the London-based luxury brand’s chief creative officer and president.

“Merle joins [CÉLINE] from another of LVMH’s labels, menswear brand Berluti, where she is currently executive vice president,” according to WWD.

Merle poses alongside Louis Vuitton luggage [source: Madame Figaro]
The Paris-based businesswoman also held previous positions at Kenzo and Louis Vuitton, according to her LinkedIn profile, two other LVMH brands.

Her prior experience makes her a promising authority to oversee the company’s first e-commerce endeavor.

Chris Morton, chief executive of Lyst.com, a multi-brand online luxury retailer in which LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault’s family investment company has a small stake, told The Fashion Law the following:

“A luxury brand that avoids the Internet is effectively refusing to engage with its customers where they are increasingly spending time and money. It is not listening to what its customers want, which is dangerous in any consumer-facing industry.”

Simply put, it would be in CÉLINE’s best interest to not ignore its customers in favor of maintaining its traditionally cool, distant ways. The brand’s customers are now online, so the brand itself should be more accessible via new media platforms, as well.

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