From Daft Punk to fashion: how Maison Kitsuné kept its cool
Hongkongers have always been big fans of French fashion, from high-end labels like Chanel to contemporary designers such as Isabel Marant. The latest name hoping to win them over is music/fashion brand Maison Kitsuné, which opened its first pop-up store in Causeway Bay showcasing its fox-logo polos, slogan tees and accessories in a colourful space with a backdrop designed by graffiti artist Andre Saraiva.
"We have been travelling to [Hong Kong] for a while so we know the city well," says co-founder, Gildas Loaëc. "We definitely noticed an enthusiasm for our brand - many Hongkongers come to our stores in Paris and Tokyo, while our business is good with local retailers like Lane Crawford. We are confident that brand awareness is strong enough for us to take a risk and make a big step into the city."
Maison Kitsuné is not your typical fashion brand. For starters, it began as a music label in Paris in 2002, founded by Loaëc and Japan-based architect Masaya Kuroki. Both are big music lovers - Loaëc previously owned a vintage vinyl store and was the artistic director and manager for French electronic duo Daft Punk. They branched out into clothing in 2005 with a small line of menswear basics like polo shirts and jeans.
"The idea was to create a line of clothes that, in an egotistical way, we would wear ourselves. Back then, Parisians would shop at Maria Luisa and Colette and all they could find were high-end formal clothes. What we wanted to make was simple and easy to wear, but still looked cool and casual," says Loaëc.
Today, Maison Kitsuné has become a cult name around the world, with an empire that includes stores in Paris (four by the end of April), New York and Tokyo, plus two cafés. They also host hundreds of Maison Kitsuné parties around the world, adding to their cool factor.
While it was initially their music that attracted fans, it's their ready-to-wear collection that's gaining traction today, thanks to its extensive offerings ranging from sporty to classic. For spring, for example, fans can buy textured denim, silk bombers or various quirky slogan tees, including the "Hongkongais" series that was made exclusively for the local pop-up store.
"For us it's not about producing fast fashion. We want our products to last. I really hope that our clothes will have such a strong appeal that one day they'll be hanging in vintage stores alongside other iconic brands," says Loaëc.
Until then, Loaëc has other plans for the brand, including launching a shoe collection next season, and stores planned for London, Los Angeles and Seoul. Following the Hong Kong pop-up store, they also plan to open a permanent space in the city in June.
"We need to continue to surprise people along the way. We started because we were passionate about what we were doing," says Loaëc. "As long as we continue to have that passion, anything is possible."