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Jack Schwefel, CEO at Vince: "We were a quiet luxury brand before the term became fashionable"

By Sharon Camara


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Business |Interview

Credits: Jack Schwefel, CEO of Vince, courtesy of Vince

Vince is a brand that offers discreet, timeless luxury inspired by California. A brand that fits in perfectly with the quiet luxury trend. Vince is present in France through points of sale and a showroom, and aims to strengthen its offering in the country over the coming years. To find out more about the brand's development strategy, FashionUnited interviewed Jack Schwefel, CEO of Vince since March 2021. With over 30 years' experience in the fashion industry, he worked for Gap for 13 years, during which time he helped establish the brand in France. Today, Jack Schwefel is developing his ambitions with Vince.

After a short-lived boutique, Vince confirmed its presence at Galeries Lafayette with a corner. How would you describe this collaboration?

Jack Schwefel: Personally, I've known the team at this department store since the 90s. Back then, when I moved to Paris to set up the Gap shop, we began collaborating with Galeries Lafayette. Vince and I have been working with Galeries Lafayette since 2020. We started by launching a seasonal pop-up store just before the pandemic. Despite the difficulties posed by the health crisis, we've managed to maintain our presence and grow within the department store over the last three years. Today, Vince has become a benchmark for cashmere and silk at Galeries Lafayette. We have a very good positioning, right next to Max Mara and Joseph. It's a great combination of international and modern brands. We promote the Californian lifestyle, and the public embraces it, which is exactly what they were looking for at Galeries Lafayette.

At the same time, Vince has also been present at Printemps since 2017. Both department stores are located on Paris’ Boulevard Haussmann, was this a strategic choice?

Yes, it is. It gives us the opportunity to reach more customers. Having lived in Paris, I've observed that people love Printemps and they also love Galeries Lafayette, so why not do both? We made a similar decision in the United States, where we are present at Nordstrom and also at Neiman Marcus.

The brand also has a showroom in Paris…

Paris is known the world over as the capital of fashion and that's exactly what the city represents for Vince. That's why we've set up the brand's only showroom there, outside the US.

"By 2024, we plan to grow from 15 to 25 points of sale in France."

What are your ambitions for the French market in the years ahead?

We want to continue to expand the brand. Over the last 20 years, Vince has grown as a wholesale brand. The aim of this major expansion is to be present in more specialist shops throughout France. We currently have a strong presence in Paris, and I'd like to see a stronger presence in France in general. We're not in Lyon or in Marseille for instance. The idea is to have a presence in the biggest cities in France. This will happen over the coming years. In 2024, we plan to expand from 15 to 25 points of sale in France.

Do you have any ambitions when it comes to e-commerce in France?

At the moment, our website is only available in English. Last year, we updated our web platform. By 2024, the site will be available in French, German and Spanish.

What do you think sets French consumers apart from others?

French consumers really appreciate quality. It's very important to them and part of their DNA, I would say. Fashion has become a completely global phenomenon, but there are differences from one country to another. Parisian customers have the same characteristics as New Yorkers and they are very different from those in Los Angeles or London.

Would you define Vince as a Quiet Luxury brand?

We already were a quiet luxury brand, even before the term became fashionable. It's part of our DNA. Today the world has embraced quiet luxury and that's a very good thing for Vince's business. It has had a considerable impact on our sales, but I can't say any more about that at the moment.

"Vince is going to rely on the digital world to increase its brand awareness in the years to come."

What are the most important markets for Vince apart from the US?

Apart from the United States, what are your most important markets? The UK is an important market. We only have one shop there and it's doing very well. It's close to Selfridges and Harrods. Vince is also doing well in Asia. We have good partnerships in Korea and Japan, with one distributor in each country. We have a wholesale partner in Hong Kong and China, and we plan to continue our development in these regions. In fact, quiet luxury is currently very successful in Asia.

Is the French market an important one for you?

France is one of the most important markets in Europe and internationally. I'm not just saying that because I used to live there and I really like Paris. We want to develop major projects in the country.

Despite Vince's enduring success, we are aware that the brand suffers from a lack of international awareness due to a lack of communication.

People know Vince mainly as a women's fashion brand. In 2022, the men's sector represented 20% of our total business worldwide. In three years' time, the aim is to reach the 30 percent mark. We will increase our sales by 50 percent over the next three years.

The brand offers quality pieces; we don't follow trends, because we offer timeless fashion. We will be investing in digital marketing and communication. From spring 2024, we will be launching a digital communications campaign.

When I worked for Gap, communication was limited to posters in stations and underground trains. Today, everything is done digitally. The advantage of this system is that it's very easy to analyse, so you know immediately whether what you're putting forward is working or not.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.FR. Translation and edit from French into English by Veerle Versteeg.