Inside ICICLE’s global expansion strategy
The Chinese fashion brand ICICLE has just opened its second door in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, at 50 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, near the Hermès flagship.
Owned by the ICCF group, ICICLE began its presence in the French capital on Avenue George V in September 2019, followed by a 50 square meter corner at Galeries Lafayette Haussmann in 2021. Earlier this year they also opened a distributorship of women’s clothing and accessories. at the luxury department store Le Bon Marché.
Such developments show the accelerating pace of the group’s global expansion. Right here, Daily Jing analyzes its progress and reviews the brand’s past efforts towards international goals.
Strengthen the benefits
Founded in Shanghai in 1997, ICICLE provides modern and professional women with luxury eco-friendly clothing. Since acquiring its first factory in the suburbs of Shanghai in 2006, ICCF Group has made continuous investments in the supply chain to maintain quality and consolidate its position in the market.
ICCF Group acquired Korean company KJ’s factory in Haimen, Jiangsu Province in 2013. According to Jiemian News, the factory was previously an OEM for Max Mara double-faced woolen coats, benefiting from decades of first-class manufacturing experience and craftsmanship. In 2016, the ambitious company also acquired a sweater factory in Shanghai’s Minhang district from the Japan World Group.
By expanding its product portfolio and strengthening its production capacity, the ICCF Group has paved the way to globalize as a mid to high-end brand.
French fashion brand Carven reopened its flagship store on the Champs-Élysées in September 2021 after decades of closure. This boutique is known for being the brand’s first, opened by founder Marie-Louise Carven in 1945.
The ICCF group acquired Carven for 4.2 million euros in October 2018, a perfect marriage between Chinese supply chain and French design. Carven will strengthen ICCF’s position in the mid- to high-end market through its originality and support the development of the group’s global entry strategies through its rich experience as a French fashion house. In return, the ICCF group can meet Carven’s design and fabric needs, while stimulating expansion in China (and, of course, revival in France).
The acquisition of Carven is an important step for ICCF’s international expansion, but it is not the group’s first step in this regard. In 2013, she created ICICLE Paris Mode, while the opening of the ICICLE Paris shopping center in 2018 marked the official launch of her international commercial footprint.
Traditional fashion companies expand globally either by opening flagship stores or by acquiring foreign brands. But this last way is not a shortcut. Direct acquisition does not avoid the need for brand building, which ICCF prioritizes, telling its brand stories across multiple matrices.
Build brand power
ICCF Group has been transforming its retail stores since 2017. The first upgrade was the opening of the ICICLE space in Caohejing, Shanghai. It now consists of two floors, with a clothing showroom and retail space, as well as a restaurant, art gallery and bookstore.
“It is very popular with consumers in recent years for providing a diversified shopping experience and promoting lifestyle. Whether it is a fast fashion brand or a luxury brand, they all launch home accessories,” said Zoe Yong, Project Manager at Daxue Consulting. “ICICLE’s construction of desirable lifestyle and consumption guidance based on its brand positioning will serve to satisfy the growing demand of consumers for new service products and fueling sales growth and market reach.”
ICICLE has accumulated a wealth of experience through its efforts to pursue storytelling and brand power at home. It can now deploy this knowledge in a global expansion strategy.
After two years of preparation, in 2019 ICICLE opened its first global flagship store in Paris. It offers women’s and men’s ready-to-wear lines, fashion accessories and home decoration products. Of the building’s four floors, the top one houses a cultural bookstore, displaying more than 500 books on art, culture and fashion. Similar to ICICLE Space, the ICICLE Paris flagship operates more like a creative collection store.
Last year, Isabelle Capron, vice-president of the ICCF group, revealed plans to open more than 20 stores in London, Milan, Berlin and other major European cities over the next five years. This shows that the ICCF group is ready to develop faster by improving its supply chain, adopting the originality of French design and deepening its brand power.