Fast fashion has established itself in textiles for more than thirty years: rapid rotation of collections, mass production in countries with low labor costs, mini prices … We thought that the model was adamant, we discover it fragile, at the mercy of hundreds of young brands who think the other way around.
Street address is one of these new fashion brands that are disrupting the economic model of mass textiles. Against the rapid turnover of the offer, it opposes a narrow range. “We don’t work by collection,” explains Alexandra Mulliez, co-founder of Address. We have a short range of 35 recurring forms. “
To exploitative factories, these production workshops at the end of the world, he prefers European producers. “We produce less than 2,000 kilometers in the European Union, “says the entrepreneur, whose family has been in the textile and trade sector for generations. His great-uncle, Gérard Mulliez senior, is the founder of Phildar, and his father Vianney ran the Auchan shops.
Urban and versatile clothing
Alexandra Mulliez wanted to write her story. She has been developing her project for nearly twelve years. With her friend Pierre Moreau, she created Sauver le Monde des Hommes, a men’s wardrobe boutique for the first time.
After seven years, the duo has four stores in Paris, achieves 1.8 million euros in turnover, employs 23 people. The business is profitable despite stiff competition from department stores which, one after another, are opening up spaces for men. The adventure, however, leaves the two co-founders unsatisfied.
Their dream was, from the beginning, to create an urban and versatile, sporty and business clothing brand. Over time, “we have forgotten this project”, Alexandra Mulliez is content to point out. Not completely, since he resurfaced in 2017. “Pierre has been the driving force behind her, fueled by her frustration at missing out on the digital adventure.”
Acceleration to bpifrance
In two years the two entrepreneurs will change everything, or almost everything, in their business: change of name – Sauver le Monde des Hommes becomes Address -, closure of two stores, creation of a complete line of clothing, first steps in digital marketing .. .
Investors also had to be convinced to achieve this pivot. Save the World of Men raised nearly € 1.5 million from business angels and an investment fund of the Mulliez family. “They accepted this new adventure with courage and loyalty”, assures Alexandra Mulliez. Some even put it back on the plate, at the end of 2017, for a total amount of one million euros.
Address is fully operational at the end of 2019, a few weeks before the start of the health emergency linked to Covid-19. For the two co-founders, the period of intense activity gives way to that of confinements and administrative closures. Almost simultaneously, the company was selected by bpifrance to join its fashion and luxury accelerator. Alexandra Mulliez takes the opportunity to review the brand promise.
Ingenuity, honesty, empathy
The entrepreneur begins this work with a specialist in branded platforms, the consultant Maxime Coupez. “It’s about defining the personality of a brand, beyond the product or service,” explains the marketing expert. Brands increasingly need to behave like human beings, especially on social media. “
Alexandra Mulliez is reluctant at first. “To me it was marketing bullshit. I’m back. The brand platform is a very powerful tool “, he admits, acknowledging his delay on this point. The first job is to define a target, much wider than just customers, to create a community with which to share a vision, commitments, a style. of life.
Address reaffirms its urban, sustainable and versatile roots. While the brand is primarily aimed at young men, it also advocates a non-gendered approach. A commitment card sculpts its values: ingenuity, honesty, empathy; and its mission: “to promote the pleasure of living in the city by inventing thoughtful clothes, inspired by sport, to be worn in the city (or elsewhere)”.
Women’s line in autumn 2022
Translating these beautiful phrases into action is arguably the most complicated on a daily basis. “It’s a work environment, explains Maxime Coupez. Values guide communication. You set up a personality and what matters is execution. In Address, this translates into the choice of materials, organic cotton or French linen, the rejection of promotions, local production, the launch of Repair Days to encourage customers to mend their clothes rather than replace them …
The brand platform, says the marketing consultant, is the key to the success of 100% digital brands, the famous DNVB – Digital Native Virtual Brand. Pushing the walls of the store to get started on the Internet was Address’s other goal. The brand now makes more than a third of its online sales.
However, the crisis slowed the pace and carried out a slimming treatment on the company. In 2021 Adresse achieved a turnover of just under one million euros, with about ten employees. Co-founder Pierre Moreau joined a digital start-up as an employee. He has closely followed the evolution of the company since he now sits on the Supervisory Board. If state aid has made it possible to overcome the most difficult moments of the last two years, Alexandra Mulliez’s bet is still fragile. This fall, Adresse will expand its offering to women.