Paris - Isabelle Capron is a graduate of HEC and she has worked in the fashion industry as marketing director at Lanvin and then general manager at Fauchon. Capron was recruited in 2013 by Shouzeng Ye and Shawna Tao, founders of the Chinese fashion brand Icicle, to help them develop the brand's international identity and run the Parisian design centre. Last September, Icicle opened its first luxury flagship store in Paris and is preparing to open a second store later this year.
What are the personal and professional challenges of working for Icicle?
Capron: “China is still identified as the world's first major textile factory and hub of fast fashion. Between fast fashion and statutory luxury, Icicle is exploring a new path for fashion.”
”The brands philosophy ‘Made in Earth’ was inherited from the Taoist culture striving for harmony between man and nature and aims to create contemporary fashion that is both beautiful and ethical. It’s very stimulating because the founders are pioneers of this ‘slow fashion’ and paradoxically ahead of the West.”
“The challenge is therefore to highlight an attractive ‘New Made in China’, which rhymes with quality, refinement and eco-friendliness.”
“On a more personal note, for the past seven years I have been witnessing a lot of changes that have taken place in and around China, whose transformation has made it the leading country of the 21st century. I feel at the forefront of digital and societal changes as much as I am learning new business methods inherited from Chinese culture: speed and long time, circular thinking, search for harmony, combinations of opposites…”
On what values is Icicle, a responsible Chinese brand, based?
“Icicle was founded in Shanghai in 1997 in a China in the midst of economic awakening and rising urbanization. The intent of the founding couple was to merge the clothing needs of a more urban and affluent population with the rapid development of the middle class, and, because they were aware of the pollution in their country, to create a fashion that was imbued with values and respect for the environment. They are truly pioneers of natural and sustainable fashion.”
“Only natural materials are used for the collections: cashmere, wool, silk, cotton and linen. Raw colors or dyed with vegetable pigments (onion, walnut bark, isatis flower, Pu-erh tea ...), packaging in sugar cane pulp and natural materials in the shops.”
“Icicle controls its production and brings a particular requirement to the selection of its suppliers: textile manufacturers with irreproachable ethics, development of new Eco+ technologies... and makes sure that its factories preserve natural resources (water and energy), limit their impact on the environment while maintaining a high level of quality throughout the value chain.”
How is the brand perceived by French consumers?
“In the eyes of the French, Icicle embodies a very fashionable movement, that of ‘New China’, a very innovative wave of fashion brands that draw on 5,000 years of textile history and export not only international fashion, but also their oriental values. It’s a form of natural luxury in how it does things and its style, a new, more reasonable and reasoned luxury.”
“If the brand has been visionary with sustainable development, it perfectly matches its time: the harmony between man and nature, which is the DNA of the brand, appeals to a mainly French clientele since the opening of our first international address at 35 avenue George V. This is a great compliment because the French are very demanding in terms of quality and style.”
After a few months of opening Icicle's first flagship, what first assessment can you make?
“We can say that after barely five months of ‘soft opening’, Icicle has gained the loyalty of a predominantly French clientele and has also successfully conquered a male, demanding and quality clientele.’
“The official opening is scheduled for the end of February, during fashion-week, and we will be able to draw up the first results in September 2020.”
Icicle recently announced the opening of a second unit in Paris in the year 2020.
“Yes, we are planning to open a second address at the end of 2020 in the Faubourg Saint-Honoré district, we cannot give more details at the moment but we will share them when we can.”
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