I live very near a French Connection shop.
I have lived where I live for about 3 years now, and so I have noticed the evolution of the French Connection collections in a very organic way, just by walking past the shop. I wasn’t in the U.K. when French Connection was best known for its controversial acronym emblazoned on tee-shirts, but I know all about it. My first impression of the brand wasn’t really the best, but has been shifting ever so slowly since I started visiting my local store regularly.
I am obsessed with brand image and rebranding so I love nothing more than observing how companies deal with it. Over the past few years, I have seen FC prices go up and their collections get more fashion led and less brand conscious (read: no more logo tees). I like it when brands get the confidence to stop feeling like they have to stick logos everywhere because they finally reach a point where their in-house style is recognizable enough.
Of course, I couldn’t help but notice their drastic change of model type for the new season. I found it extremely intriguing – and not at all in synch with their old image. The drift was very organic so far but now they are sending a very clear message about their new direction and positioning. These are all conclusions I came to from simply observing their shops as up until this week, I wasn’t even in touch with their PR.
However, a couple of days ago, they got in touch with videos of their new campaign and after seeing them, I felt I had to write something about branding/rebranding.
“The Man” illustrates my point even better than “The Woman”: once I got over the very obvious French Nouvelle Vague references, what struck me is that the clothes featured are timeless classics, basic wardrobe pieces as opposed to brand spanking new super trend led items. I like it. You don’t see many high street brands capitalizing on the perennial side of Fashion, which is a shame as I am getting increasingly frustrated with fast fashion.
Because of this rebranding, French Connection has now officially entered my list of high street brands to watch. I especially love the fact that I now feel like I have time to think about a high street purchase without fearing the item I want won’t be there two weeks after I first saw it.
I am praying for French Connection to push this transformation all the way from ugly over branded mid-90’s caterpillar to beautiful APC/Margaret Howell of the high street butterfly, with shops crammed full of well-made timeless classics.
I hope I am not being totally unrealistic. Don’t let me down, French Connection, I will be watching you.
You can have a look at “Manifesto“, their men’s style blog.