German fashion designer Philipp Plein does what he wants – and everyone wants him.
In our new Brand Profile Series, we take a closer look at surging brands across the world. For this second article of the series, please follow us into the most over-the-top universe of the modern fashion industry, envisioned by Philipp Plein. Enjoy!
Name it, and Philipp Plein will do it
Lugano is not a city known for its madness, yet Philipp Plein’s headquarters is based out of there. Whatever your greatest fashion show fantasies are, Philipp Plein will do it. The megalomaniac favourite of footballers and hip hop stars has a limitless imagination and no interest in staying on the beaten path when it comes to his fashion shows and his brand. With 107 shops across the world, Plein is definitely aiming big. Last year, the company’s revenue was over €200m, at least €30m more than the year before – and with a general attitude of “more is more”, it looks like the German designer will not stop there.
“Life is too short to be boring”
With no background in the fashion industry whatsoever and no desire to pretend that he does, Philipp Plein was not immediately welcomed in the fashion world, and still is the rebellious child of the industry. As a true outsider, Plein states that the only sin is to become boring – and in a world of understated luxury dominated by heritage brands, all that was needed was a luxury rebel. Maybe it is because of the presence of new media, maybe it is because of the new fashion-aware generation wanting to transcend the rules and to write their own story – whatever the reason, people are asking for more! And just like Plein’s aficionados do not pretend to appreciate understated fashion, the designer himself talks the talk. He certainly enjoys his success, along with the money it generates.
Plein also stands behind the principle of simply meeting customer demand. “I’m not designing to please the press,” he says. “I’m designing for the people.” By acting this way, he is positioning himself as a true free spirit taking advantage of a world that is too busy criticizing him.
A Live Experience
His stores are full of imposing chandeliers, giant diamond skulls and marble or gold details. They look like the home of a rock’n’roll billionaire. His clothes follow the same policy. Philipp Plein likes his luxury obvious – and if that was not clear enough, his t-shirts spell out “Rich A$$”, “Pimp from hell” or “Fuck the police” to remind you who is in charge. This behavior lends itself well to social media-ready content, yet Plein says for a luxury fashion brand, digital is just an additional channel. His design strategy? Nothing compares to going to the shop, touching the product and feeling the atmosphere. He calls it “the flavor of the luxury experience”.
From Instagram to the Flesh and Back
Plein’s distribution strategy is to make his company completely omnipresent. Sure, Paris and Milan are in the spotlight, but his clientele also shops in Monte Carlo, Moscow, Marbella or Dubai. As Plein puts it, he is simply “following the money.” His shops spread across the world, from London to Bucharest, Ibiza, Beirut, Miami, Casablanca or Hong Kong. His main go-to market strategies? His majestic, yet slightly psychedelic shows, where golden monster trucks, jetpacks and gigantic roller coasters are all competing for the audience’s attention. Let us also not forget the brand’s Instagram account, which is overflowing with highly visual content perfectly adapted to this new media landscape. At the time of this writing, the account counts almost 300k followers. Perhaps even more interestingly, Philipp Plein’s personal Instagram page displays close to 500k followers. People seem to be drawn to the lifestyle the designer leads and promotes, through his brand but also through the narration of his own life.
What is Next?
You have probably noticed it in your neighborhood – active wear is everywhere. People’s growing interest in keeping healthy and fit has spread to their casual wardrobe, but what about their luxury needs? According to Plein, there is no true luxury active wear brand yet – or at least, not one that charges above 300$ a piece. The intersection of active wear and fashion statement has only been explored by Nike and Adidas, but in a certain price range, the market is entirely empty. Hence the creation of Plein Sport, a new concept Plein calls « luxury active wear ».
By being the favourite designer of many of the world’s most famous footballers, the designer has already cemented himself as a bling specialist. His strategy for Plein Sport? Stripping away the many skulls, PP logos and obsequious extras from his clothes and creating a more simplistic and versatile line answering to what he calls « a general demand from the public. » In short: choosing sport over fashion.
Two Plein Sport have already opened, in Paris and in Amsterdam. The shops are clean, industrial sport chic spaces with black, concrete and gold interiors that are decorated with boxing bags, weight benches and digital clocks.
What this new project shows us is that, behind the glitter, Plein is a very perceptive businessman who is extremely quick to discern new needs and tendencies among the general public. Our main interest now is to see whether Plein’s brand will find a way to withstand the test of time and outlive the current decade. The key question is: can Philipp Plein stay young forever? For now, he surely doesn’t care – he is partying too hard in Monte Carlo to let a thing like time faze him.
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