Fresh Vision: CEO Loubier Aims to Renew Escada

Escada chief executive officer Jean-Marc Loubier is on a mission to reignite the brand.

with contributions from Antonia Sardone
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The Escada line, which accounts for 75 percent of the brand's sales, was too focused on eveningwear, said Loubier. The new collection incorporates daywear in the form of medallion prints that grace dresses and coats, blouses with abundant ruffles and knits. Origami has been manipulated to an armor effect on day dresses, and there are plenty of embellishments on everything from skirts and dresses to coats. Eveningwear and elaborate beaded cocktail dresses are still prevalent in the line. Prices for the Escada main line range from $500 for a skirt to $5,000 for a jacket with embellishment or exotic skins.

Escada Sport, which hasn't been widely available in the U.S. until now but has had much success internationally in locales such as Moscow, will ship its first fall deliveries to stores in June. The line makes up 25 percent of the firm's business and suits the traditional Escada customer, who requires a fashionable yet conservative weekend look. Luxurious and sporty, the line also serves a younger customer who is savvy to trends. Prices in the Sport line range from $250 for a blouse to $1,500 for a jacket.

In its preliminary figures for the 2007 fiscal year, Escada reported that group sales slid 1.2 percent to 686.8 million euros, or $923.1 million, with Escada brand sales down 5.6 percent to 461.8 million euros, or $620.7 million. Adjusted for currency effects, group sales were up 1 percent, and Escada brand sales were down 2.4 percent.

Accessories are a big push for the company. The broad offering, also to bow in the fall, ranges from the tall leather Shalyzar shoulder bag with a chain-hook closure; the Pick Pocket patent leather satchel with double-patch pockets, and the Nomade, a quilted hobo done in black nylon, to a more casual camera bag in leather and the Margaretha, an embossed group named for the firm's co-founder, Margaretha Ley. Many of the bags also are offered in exotic skins such as alligator, snakeskin and fur. Escada accessories and shoes range in price from $250 to $16,500.

Footwear, such as quilted knee-high stiletto boots, snakeskin skimmers and bejeweled evening sandals, are in the mix for fall, as well.

Loubier also ended most of the company's licenses, namely a partnership with Pluczenik Diamond, which made Escada fine jewelry. The only licenses that remain are an eyewear deal with Viva and a fragrance line done with Proctor & Gamble.
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