Closed is putting a new spin on an old story and disproving the old adage that “you can’t go home again.” Forty years after launching its legendary Pedal Pusher jean the Hamburg-based fashion label is re-exploring its roots and launching a new collaboration next month with legendary designer François Girbaud–who just happens to be the guy who founded the brand four decades ago. Closed CEO Gordon Giers recently shared the story behind Girbaud’s return and gave a preview of what to expect from this exciting new capsule.
This month you will launch a revival with François Girbaud. Why has the time come for a new collaboration?
Forty years after the founding of Closed by François Girbaud his design approaches happen to be modern and in demand again. Our classic, the Pedal Pusher, has become one of our most successful models again over the last few years. We both often have thought about starting something together again. It just happened to work out this time.
“French imagination, Italian craftsmanship, German tradition, universal functionality: Closed and François Girbaud is a homage to the brand’s roots, its founder’s visionary ‘fit-form-function’ approach and to Girbaud himself. The designer who started it all has now returned for a unique collection” – this is what the press release says. What can we exactly expect from the collection?
Girbaud has a quite classic design approach. Before starting with the actual design he questions its functionality. This is a very interesting approach that bears potential for totally new ideas. At the same time the collection is very Closed and is reminiscent of original ’80s styles. Those are combined with modern fabric innovations, such as WARP Stretch for denim and chino, and reflectors that mainly come from activewear. The collection comprises about 50 pieces while the main focus, of course, is put on denim and chino. The full look is completed by jackets and a trench, jersey, hoods and sweats, blouses and shirts, sneakers and belts. Besides authentic washed blue denim the color palette is mainly blue, beige and white.
Closed created a jeans icon with the Pedal Pusher Closed. How important is the model today?
The Pedal Pusher continues to be–especially in the last few years–one of the most relevant models of our pants range. A longtime favorite of our rather older, female regular customers, the fit lately experienced a true revival and is now mainly purchased by young, fashionable, female customers. Of course the high waist trend came just at the right time for us. The Pedal Pusher model also served as a blueprint for other successful model such as the Skinny Pusher and Power Pusher. In September we’re going to open a two-month pop-up store in Paris completely dedicated to the Pedal Pusher.
What is the challenge of selling your brand season after season?
Generally, storytelling marks the current key challenge for every marketing strategy. Quality and design are not sufficient as a unique selling point anymore. Luckily we have many stories at Closed that just have to be told–they do not have to be planned from scratch by an agency and loads of creatives. It happened a lot in the last 40 years and our products communicate a lot as well. But we also continue to show more of our production and our people/staff. They truly make Closed what it is.
How do you face the decay of fashion’s value?
This obviously concerns highly fashionable pieces. Closed in particular stands for timeless fashion, putting the main focus on details and quality. We often hear that someone still owns and wears Closed pieces from the ’80s.
After Kostas Murkudis’ withdrawal the design team has worked without a head of design for several seasons. Was this a conscious decision or have you just not found a fitting successor yet?
Closed always had a design team after François Girbaud left. It was like that before Kostas and is like that today again. Closed always meant teamwork, in every department. We handle the management as a team of three and that is kind of how it works in the design team as well. This is how we function best. Therefore it is a conscious decision to keep that model.
Is there someone you would like to collaborate with designwise?
We think design collaborations are quite exciting. To exchange and challenge oneself with other creatives often bears interesting results. It varies whether the collaboration partner is a brand, an artist or a retailer. For a couple of seasons we’ve created chinos together with Japanese retailer United Arrows and last year we worked together with Toni and Niklas Garrn for a unisex line. There’s a bike planned for next summer together with the English label Freddie Grubb and lately we worked together with Atelier & Repairs, a LA-based initiative that repairs and renews clothes, for our f/w collection. For the upcoming season we created pieces for men and women in collaboration with the French workwear label Vetra–jointly created designs, fabrics by Vetra, washed in our laundry in Italy.
What are the most important markets for Closed currently?
Of course Germany is our home and therefore our biggest market. Here we have most key accounts and operate 34 of our 46 stores. The Netherlands works for us quite well and is growing both in wholesale as well as in retail/franchise. In the future, we’ll also further expand to the USA. While the market continuously grows the next relevant step will be the launch of the closed.com US online store.
And what are the biggest growth drivers?
Currently we have large potentials in the field of menswear. Last season we reworked the pants range and due to various optimizations we also could create new entry price levels. In September we’ll open a 115-sq.-meter men’s-only store in downtown Hamburg on Poststrasse and at our key accounts some SIS spaces will be opened as well.
Why don’t you get bored by jeans?
Denim offers an endless amount of facets; there still are many possibilities of innovations and progress. We work really closely together with Candiani and our partners at the laundry to further develop in this field. Today it’s a lot about using less water and chemicals. Laser is used for a long time now, but there’s still room to improve to reach authentic looks at different quality levels. Otherwise denim does not equal denim; the Japanese selvedge for example is completely different from Power Stretch optically and functionally. Denim really offers uncountable options of fits, washes and treatments as well as new trends for each season.
Which jeans do you currently wear?
I prefer blue and raw. This summer some white as well.
What do you like about your brand, that you operate together with two friends, the most?That we’ve kept the values that define Closed over the years and continue to live them: familiar, authentic, wearable, close, uncomplicated, humorous and relevant.