High Street Clothing with Royal Approval
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In December of 2010, official engagement photographs of future King and Queen, Prince William and Kate Middleton were released. In the pictures taken by legendary photographer, Mario Testino, Kate was pictured wearing the Nanette dress by Reiss, the British fashion label founded in 1971 by David Reiss. The simple and classic white dress was from a previous Reiss collection and therefore, at that time, no longer on sale in stores. Desperate shoppers took to online auction sites to with hopes of getting a Nanette dress of their own. Shortly after the engagement photographs were released, ‘Reiss’ topped the most-searched items in the women’s fashion category on eBay.
This prompted Reiss to re-release the dress in January 2011 which sold out almost immediately. In February 2011, the dress was re-released to the US market, sparking a frenzy of sales and causing the (now iconic) Nanette dress to sell out once more.
A Brief History of Reiss
Since the early 1970’s, Reiss has been focused on designing and creating directional, design-led clothing and accessories. The brand has dramatically expanded from the shop David Reiss took over from his ailing father, to a global fashion brand with over 100 stores worldwide. With the brands expansion has came a large celebrity following, within the UK and internationally. Celebrity patrons include: girl band The Saturdays, Charlize Theron, Beyonce, Anne Hathaway, Eva Longoria, Alicia Keys, Will Smith and Zac Efron.
- 1971: The first Reiss store is opened in London by founder and owner, David Reiss, selling quality European men’s tailoring.
- 2000: Reiss hires designers formerly of luxury fashion houses Gucci and Calvin Klein to strengthen their own in-house design team. The brand expanded into a complete range by launching the womenswear collection.
- 2005: Reiss opens their first American branch in Greenwich Village, New York. Additionally, London-based jeweller, Anna Lou, designs a collection of jewellery and accessories called ‘Anna Lou for Reiss’. Reiss wins the British Style Award for a womenswear collection and the Drapers Multiple Retailer of the Year Award.
- 2007: The Reiss flagship store and company headquarters opened in Barrett Street, West London. Interestingly the site once held the London College of Fashion.
- 2009: Reiss launches its capsule denim collection, 1971.
- Nov 2010: Reiss receives the Larger Multiple Retailer of the Year Award at the Drapers Award ceremony, fending off competition from Topshop, AllSaints, H&M, M&Co, New Look and Republic. They were commended for their original marketing strategies, including have their own Youtube channel and producing the video ‘Elements’ for their Autumn/Winter collection for that year. Additionally, in this year, the Reiss European flagship store in Copenhagen opens in leading department store, Illum, located on Denmark’s most exclusive shopping street, Strǿget.
- Dec 2010: The first Russian Reiss luxury concept store opens in Moscow in the contemporary Tsvetnoy Central Market. Kate Middleton wears a white Reiss dress for official engagement photographs with Prince William.
- May 2011: Kate Middleton is again photographed wearing a beige ‘Shola’ Reiss dress, following a meeting with US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama. The buzz causes the Reiss online store to crash as demand sky-rockets.
Capsule Collection: 1971 Reiss
In 2009, Reiss launched its capsule denim collection, Reiss 1971, named after the year David Reiss founded the company. The aim of the capsule collection was to drive the brands expansion, catering for a wider audience. Reiss 1971 adds a, which is . The 1971 collection is a younger, edgier denim-led collection, which adds a casual element to the brand (Reiss is traditionally more recognised for its clean cut smart style rather than casual clothing). . The sub-brand is a mix of rock-inspired printed T-shirts, waistcoats and blazers alongside various denim pieces.
Future of Reiss
2011 marks 40 years in fashion for Reiss and many are predicting a floatation or sale of the brand from its family roots. In 2007, David Reiss was in talks to sell the fashion chain he created to US fashion giant Liz Claiborne. He could have walked away £150 million richer, but he changed his mind on the deal. For the 2010 financial year, sales from the UK stores were up by 40% from the previous year. The company earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) from the UK outlets were around £12.7m, up from £9.1m.
As well as further cementing its premium position in the UK fashion industry, Reiss aims to further its expansion internationally with new markets surely on the agenda. Before the global economic downturn in 2008, there were big plans to increase the number of standalone stores in the US market. However, Reiss is now looking to open ‘stores-within-stores’ in some of the big American department stores, such as Bloomingdale’s. The brand also hopes to expand into the Australian market some time in the near future.