Three years after it was launched by designer Marion Reynolds, Pale Cloud is one of the most respected and acclaimed label in children’s high end fashion, sharing the racks of the finest department stores and boutiques worldwide, side by side with top luxury brands. Interview with Ian Reynolds, C.E.O. of the company.
When did you start the line? Pale Cloud was incorporated in London July 2010 with the first collection being shown at Pitti Bimbo in Jan 2011.
Marion graduated from Esmod Paris, where did she work before launching Pale Cloud? Our Creative Director and founder, Marion Reynolds, was a ladies wear designer prior to Pale Cloud. After graduating from Esmod, she designed for the Danish fashion forward brand Vero Moda.
And yourself, what did you do before and how long did it take you to join the adventure with your wife? I come from a luxury car background. Marion and I met in India while I was the MD for the retail arm of Porsche India. Oct 2010 was a major juncture for me; I had an offer from a company in the UAE to run their dealerships incorporating Aston Martin, Bugatti, Bentley with McLaren about to be added. It included a great apartment in the Dubai Marina and a promise of an exotic lifestyle but my commitment to this new business won and I gave up luxury cars for Pale Cloud. I have never doubted or regretted that decision but sometimes when I hear a V12 engine I miss my former job a bit!
How many stores carry the line in the world as of today? What’s the part of internet vs real stores? Pale Cloud is stocked in more than 20 countries around the world and while we recognise the importance of internet retailing, especially to reach customers who are not close to one of our stores, we feel there is nothing to beat being able to feel the fabrics we use and to see the design and finishing detail up close.
In department stores such as Barneys or Harvey Nichols, who are the brands next to Pale Cloud? Pale Cloud has been stocked continuously in Barneys New York since our 2nd collection; we visited NYC shortly after it arrived in store and were amazed to see it hanging on the same rail as Dior with Fendi/Lanvin on one side and Dolce & Gabbana/Bonnie Young on the other!
How hard is it to impose Pale Cloud to buyers who tent to go for the big names with great consumer recognition and huge advertisement budgets? The brands we compete with for buyers attention operate at a very high level and we cannot possibly challenge them on their terms. Luckily for us, many of these brand names are licensed out so the adult brand designer has very little to do with the design process of the kids brand. Marion designs with no reference to fashion forecasting or colour trend websites, which very often results in brands all coming out with the same things each season. This means our styles stand out and when you combine this with the very high level of detailing and finishing, we think we offer great value for money to our customers.
How do your prices compare and what do you do to make yourself more attractive? Prices are very difficult to compare, especially at the higher end as the materials we use and the level of detail we have are generally not found in other brands.
For adult’s luxury the US are a predominant market, is it also your strongest market outside Europe? The US is very split in taste. New York and the Tri State area is our strongest market but as you head west, the consumer taste changes. We are developing our collections to include fabrics to suit more occasions and tastes; our SS15 Collection has the widest range in prices and fabrics qualities offered so far and the reaction from US wholesale buyers has been great so far.
How about Russia and region, did the Ukraine crisis have an impact on your business? Russia is not a big market for us so far, it appears the consumer there demands more a ‘brand’ presence on their fashion. We hope that as the market there matures, the consumers will let go of their need for big logos. The buyers we meet from Russia seem to be experiencing problems in their market caused by the economic backlash of the Ukraine situation. It’s a big subject and who knows what will happen there!
And what about China, are they mature for brands such as Pale Cloud? Pale Cloud is stocked in Galeries Lafayette Beijing and doing very well!
A directly owned Pale Cloud store in a capital looks like the obvious next step for the brand. Do you have concrete plans, or can you tell us what are the cities you find more suitable for Pale Cloud? Yes, a Pale Cloud Store in NYC or London is an obvious next step and we have flexible plans ready for the right partner and opportunity.
Where can retailers buy your collection? The Pale Cloud website offers customers two great ways to find a retailer. The first is to find the closest Pale Cloud stockist via the Store Locator (here); the second is via a specific style that you select. Try it out! Go to Pale-cloud.com, look at a Collection and select a style from either a lookbook image or from the View Full Collection, then hit Who Stocks It. Retailers can buy our SS15 Collection from our agents/distributors in UK, USA, Italy, Middle East, Benelux and China. Out with these regions, they can deal directly with us.
What is your signature piece? The signature piece changes from season to season but we consistently produce great special occasion dresses, one of our favourites from the upcoming Autumn Winter 2014 Collection is the Harlow Dress. The texture of the Hammered Silk Satin combined with the Swarovski around the neckline makes it a stunning dress for the holiday season.