Karl Lagerfeld launches digital-oriented denim line aimed at Gen Z
Spring/Summer 2023 will mark the debut of the Karl Lagerfeld Jeans line. In a press release, Karl Lagerfeld indicated that the line is primarily aimed at Gen Z consumers, the first truly digital-native generation, appreciating both individualism and connectivity. Karl Lagerfeld Jeans will incorporate these concepts in a mix of online, offline and phygital experiences, promoted via exclusive, digital-driven campaigns featuring user-generated content, social media activity and influencer initiatives.
The line’s aesthetic has a street-style feel, with distinctive details like K-shaped stitching, a variety of trouser cuts, and the intense blue colour (pantone 2736 C) characterising the logo on packaging, buttons, toggles and rivets. The line also includes handbags and sneakers.
“As the world of Karl Lagerfeld continues to expand, we’re excited to grow our portfolio with the launch of Karl Lagerfeld Jeans,” said Pier Paolo Righi, the CEO of Karl Lagerfeld since 2011. “Not only did Karl wear denim most days — he also had the lifelong vision to connect with younger generations and inspire a constant reinvention of art and culture,” he added.
The Karl Lagerfeld Jeans collection has been created by a new, dedicated design and product development team - overseen by Karl Lagerfeld’s creative director Hun Kim - based in a studio inside the label's headquarters on the Herengracht canal, in Amsterdam’s chicest district.
“Karl was a master of mixing cool, rock-chic denim with more dressed-up pieces,” said Kim. “He also demonstrated that denim knows no age or gender boundaries: no matter who they are, anyone can wear jeans!” he added. According to Kim, Karl Lagerfeld Jeans is a “progressive brand” that “celebrates diversity via new silhouettes, new treatments and unexpected new details. The look is creative, authentic and unfussy, ideal for trend-setters and rule-breakers keen to stand out in the crowd.”
The line’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection features jeans with skinny, straight and relaxed fits, alongside versatile denim jackets and other easy-to-match items. The logo is set within a square, the hallmark of Karl Lagerfeld Jeans, with the line’s intense blue pantone in the background, and seasonal variations in contrasting colours or in orange and lime. Printed fabrics come with vivid pictorial patterns, inspired by abstract expressionism and camo motifs. There is a deliberate balance between masculine and feminine shapes, embodied in fluid lines ideal for mixing and matching. Some of the silhouettes are figure-hugging, others softer and more generous.
The Karl Lagerfeld label's portfolio includes ready-to-wear for women, men and children, handbags and small leather goods, footwear, fragrances, eyewear, a hotel in Macau, a luxury residential village in Marbella and a recently launched jewellery line. On the creative side, Kim collaborates with Sébastien Jondeau, Lagerfeld's former personal assistant and confidante, who is also the label's brand ambassador and product consultant, and with Amber Valletta, the label’s sustainability ambassador. An approach developed by Righi in agreement with the late German designer, who liked to surround himself with trusted members of his inner circle, and friends he made in the course of his long fashion career.
Karl Lagerfeld is commercialised via some 120 directly owned and franchised monobrand stores, as well as select multibrand retailers. In May 2022, US fashion group G-III Apparel increased the stake it holds in the label to 81%, up from the previous 19% share, investing a further €200 million to acquire a majority stake. The leading Karl Lagerfeld monobrand stores are located in Paris, London, Munich, Dubai and Shanghai. The label has its own e-shop, as well as a strong e-tail presence in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. In 2019, Karl Lagerfeld was a signatory of the Fashion Pact global sustainability initiative, which intends to transform the fashion industry by focusing on sustainability goals in three areas: climate change, biodiversity and protection of the oceans.
Nicknamed the Kaiser, designer Karl Lagerfeld died in 2019 at the age of 85. He was instrumental in the renaissance of Chanel, for which he was creative director for over 30 years, and was the creative genius that hugely boosted the visibility of Fendi (whose collections he designed for 50 years) and Chloé, while founding his own label. Lagerfeld's reputation is such that Anna Wintour of Vogue and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art announced a few weeks ago that the theme for the annual Costume Institute exhibition - and the 2023 Met Gala - will be “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” an exhibition showcasing Lagerfeld's work and sixty-plus-year career, exploring his creative method and design evolution, and his impact on fashion.
In 2021, sales for Karl Lagerfeld grew by 40% over 2020 (and by 35% over pre-pandemic levels), and the label is aiming for annual growth of 20-25%, as Righi himself told FashionNetwork.com a few months ago, adding that the label's total sales at retail value are worth close to $1 billion. Speaking to Italian fashion industry media, Righi recently disclosed that the label will soon expand into Italy and Spain. Flagship stores in Milan and Madrid are in the pipeline for 2023, once the right locations will be found. The company has approximately 700 employees and has recently hired another 60, to bolster the e-tail (the channel currently accounts for 30% of Karl Lagerfeld's total revenue), marketing and product development departments. Righi also said that 50% of the label’s items are now produced in sustainable fashion.
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