Frame X Ritz Paris Natalie Bader on brand building at iconic hotel from New York to Doha
One luxury label cutting some clever moves, in both fashion and elsewhere, is the Ritz, which unveiled its second collection with hipster fashion label Frame during Paris Fashion Week. Part of a brand building project that sees the Ritz Paris open its first own boutique in Doha today.
Frame X Ritz Paris debuted last October, and its first ideas immediately found favor with style conscious consumers. The new collection goes a stage further, adding a full family array of choice to around 20 items. Everything from pajamas and varsity jackets to funky patchwork logo jeans and a dog’s blanket.
Though its core is luxury staples - crewneck cashmere cable knit sweaters and thick pile cotton sweatshirts. All featuring various versions of the storied inn’s logo, and very much priced at the upper range of the market. Sweatshirts sell for €360 and cropped cashmere pullovers for €630.
The Ritz remains a remarkable magnate for mega stars and VIPs. During the recent season, the likes of Bradley Cooper, Kanye West, Gwyneth Paltrow and Josse of BlackPink all rested their weary limbs at the grand hotel.
Frame X Ritz Paris now retails in Frame’s growing chain of stores - 15 alone in the UK and US, including three in Manhattan – and in powerhouse e-tailers like Net-a-Porter, Moda Operandi, Luisa Via Roma, and Frame Tmall Flagship. In the world of bricks and mortar wholesale it’s available in the likes of Harrods, Printemps, Le Bon Marché, Holt Renfrew in Canada and NK in Sweden.
During this month’s New York Fashion Week, the label also opened a large pop-up inside Bergdorf Goodman, finished with classy Director doors, echoing the hotel’s architecture. Backed up by a cool ad campaign shot by Alasdair McLellan, the brand seems to have significant global momentum.
So, we sat down with Natalie Barder, The Ritz board member in charge of brand strategy for the hotel marque. The hotel belongs to the Al Fayed family who bought it directly from the Ritz family in 1979, and the family often comes and stays. Daughter Camilla, who has a much-acclaimed vegan restaurant called Farmacy in London, came up with the idea of a Frame partnership.
Fashion Network: How do you find Frame?
Natalie Bader: I’d say it was opportunistic. We thought it would be great to have a partner like Frame that would bring a new vision of the Ritz, young, fresh and friendly. I liked the idea of mixing that with our great tradition. Camilla introduced me to the Frame team, and I met Erik Torstensson (Frame founder) and fit was immediate.
FN: Why did you not work with a bigger luxury brand?
NB: No, our job is to find new talent. For instance, we have taken François Perret, a great young pastry maker. And we will do the same with our new chef, a girl called Eugénie Béziat. She is still fresh, young and we will develop her here. Eugénie is from the south of France and born in Africa, so she has a sense of taste and fragrance that is special.
In June, Perret opened Ritz Paris Le Comptoir at 38 rue Cambon, allowing passersby to taste his signature whipped cream desserts like Barquette Caramel or Entremets Madelaine inside a bright white space lit by a giant Bohemian blown glass ceiling fitting.
The Ritz’s grandest restaurant l’Espadon, closed during the Covid Pandemic, and will open next September with Béziat in charge of the kitchen. At her restaurant La Flibuste in the Alpes-Maritimes, the 38-year-old Béziat was noted for her audacious recipes such as red mullet, helicryse, carrot tops and artichoke with cocoa. Currently, the Ritz’s main restaurant is the Brassiere Vendome, near its front door on the square of the same name.
FN: What was you brief with Frame?
NB: The brief was to keep the spirit of grand classic, but with a twist of their modernity and expertise in producing clothes. This is why there is cashmere and expensive fabrics. And to find a creative twist from hospitality, like on the back of the sweatshirt where it reads, Junior Suite. Keeping the color codes of the Ritz - navy blue, white and our burgundy, which is in our Vendome restaurant.
FN: What was your retail plan for the collab’?
NB: First, the collection sold in Frame boutiques and partners, and in our little concept store here in the Ritz. Plus, they have a distribution network we appreciated. Now, with this second collection we have been very nicely exposed in Frame boutiques. I was in New York for its fashion week, and we had big windows in Frames three stores, on Madison, in Soho and in the Meatpacking District, and in their big corner in Bergdorf Goodman.
FN: What is the business arrangement?
NB: It is a license, and they pay us a percentage of sales. Which is great and we love it. They listen to us, and we discuss our ideas. And they absolutely respect our concept.
FN: Revenues and sales?
NB: I cannot tell you, but I think it has been very good for Frame. But, sales wise we are talking about several tens of millions in revenue.
FN: From a brand building point of view, what is your next move?
NB: We are now developing with the Ritz different activities out of this building. We will open the first ever Ritz boutique in Doha, in Galeries Lafayette on October 6. It will sell the full universe of The Ritz – tableware, robes, linen, fragrance, candles and teddy bears! Our new line of candles in porcelain will retail for 280 euros, with Haviland from Limoges, with whom they have worked since 1898, the year the hotel opened.
FN: Would you ever build another Ritz?
NB: Yes, we are working on it right now. We are looking at possible locations. Not in America, as there is the Ritz Carlton. Maybe in Asia, maybe in Tokyo. We don’t know yet but we are working on it. Voila!
FN: What is the annual turnover of the Ritz?
NB: What do you think?
FN: Depends on how many rooms you have?
NB: We have 140 rooms, but they are not all rooms, but many suites and half suites. And, we have the restaurant and the salons to rent.
FN: So, about 300 million euros?
FN: Is any hotel as good as the Ritz?
NB: No, we are an icon. And in terms of performance, we are the best. In terms of per key rate, we are the very best.
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