Gaucho-inspired brand Àcheval looks to the future in circularity push
From Argentina to the world. That was the starting point for Àcheval, the Paris-based brand founded by Sofía Achaval de Montaigu and Lucila Sperber two years ago. Two designers from Argentina, who met by chance during a Rochas Homme campaign when Sperber was brand manager for the label in South America. The pair had the idea of exploring their roots with a project that quickly gained the backing of a handful of Argentinian investors: to bring the Pampas closer to international markets through a contemporary equestrian wardrobe. There was a gap in the market for something extraordinary and Àcheval set out to fill it with Gaucho-inspired fashion.
“Living in Europe, I felt that there was a fascination with everything I brought from Argentina and everything I wore,” said Sofía Acheval, who has spent years working in Paris alongside Argentinian designer Vanessa Seward at Azzaro and as fashion editor of V Magazine. “When we got together to create the brand, we agreed that there was a whole universe in Argentina and the Pampas that was not exploited and which triggered a desire in people,” she observed. The brand is inspired by the Gaucho, the country’s larger than life cowboy symbol, and the equestrian world — two themes which are expertly encapsulated with a contemporary twist for the modern woman. The idea, Sperber said, was to introduce an effortless silhouette with a distinctive style that could go from day to night and adapt to changes in the weather.
It was a formula made for success. Produced in Uruguay, Brazil and northern Argentina, the brand now employs a team of 15 and has started seducing consumers with a proposition fit for modern Amazonians. Prices range from €400 for tops to €800 for dresses. “We have been well received in Europe, the United States and even Asia,” said the brand founders. The UK has also emerged as a key market, given the country’s links with the polo world.
This journey has been made easier by partnerships with Riccardo Grassi Showroom, the Milan-based concept showroom which acts as a sales agent for the brand, and PR agency Lucien Pagès. “The brand has a presence in some of the most important retailers,” said the designers. Indeed, luxury e-tailers like Net-A-Porter, Matchesfashion, LuisaViaRoma and 24S all offer a selection of Àcheval pieces, while shoppers can browse the collection at Galeries Lafayette’s store on Champs Elysées and Il Pellicano, among other boutiques.
Driving change from within
But Àcheval is not immune to the impact of Covid-19 and the changes we may expect to see going forward. “Thankfully, our online sales performed well at the beginning of the pandemic,” said the designers. Nevertheless, the crisis prompted them to think about their operations and launch the “Keep Moving” manifesto. “We wanted to drive change. In the face of a global crisis, we refused to turn a deaf ear,” they continued. The new initiative aims to “reduce the maximum stock possible” by offering wholesale buyers the option to return unsold Àcheval product starting with the Spring/Summer 2021 collection. Participating customers will receive a 10% discount on future orders. “It’s a retailer loyalty scheme that can also assure consumers we are contributing towards protecting the planet”.
The initiative goes beyond the circular economy. A part of the items received through the buy-back scheme will be donated to communities in need, while another portion will be reused in new collections. The brand is also planning to re-sell some of the more covetable pieces on its website. Retailer feedback on the new programme has been “very good” with many customers already agreeing to take part, the designers said.
The new normal has also sparked the designers to rethink the way they design clothes. “Faced with a change in rhythms and our way of life, the way we dress has evolved so we are introducing relaxed and comfortable styles,” the brand said. The latest creations are highly versatile and include a poncho designed with an Argentinian NGO that preserves the essence of indigenous artisans. Other upcoming pursuits cover the brand’s menswear and unisex lines and the new homeware collection, which draws inspiration from the equestrian world. Meanwhile, the brand will continue to adapt to the new normal with a view to present in Paris and Milan. “Digital is limited. Everything is more interesting in person. The activations are likely to be smaller but we’ll try to keep the presentations as intimate as possible,” said the designers. It’s all about balance and the founders of Àcheval know how to get it right.
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