Sustainable success or disposable underpants?
After the end of the Made in France trend, can the “Slip Français” (“French Underpants”) keep its appeal? Guillaume Gibault, its founder, answers us.
40 000 euros of sales in 2011, 290 000 in 2012, 920 000 euros in 2013… 3.6 million in 2015 and the double is targeted for this year: the Slip Français’ growth is staggering.
And yet, in 2011, it was a risky bet: at the time, underpants were pretty outdated and the industry was struggling. Unemployed, Guillaume Gibault decided to accept a friend’s challenge. The young HEC graduate found a producer in Dordogne via the internet and managed to sell the 600 underpants he had manufactured within three weeks.
Using an off-key tone and surfing on the Made in France wave, very popular at the time, the brand quickly acquired a “likeable capital”. Advertising campaigns such as “Underpants’ change is now” in 2012 or “Sliptime Around The World”, following their globetrotting model Francis around the world, turned out to go viral.
In order to last, Guillaume Gibault plans to industrialize this buzz and to turn it into a trademark: “We managed to create a real editorial line on social networks and every morning we are trying to find the phrase that will catch attention, to surf on the news in a clever way”. . The figures are a testament to it: 78k likes on Facebook (this is almost as much as a brand like Carven for instance, with an international reach), 15k followers on Twitter (twice as much as the French creator).
What about the Made in France? Originally a major marketing asset, the theme seems to have gone out of fashion lately and Arnaud Montebourg’s “marinière” (a striped jersey) is not really relevant anymore. “Even if it has been less present in the past two years, the Made in France ensues from a deeper tendency: the need for more transparency. Consumers want to know more about the products and to participate in an entrepreneurial adventure. Not only is it a vehicle for communication but it also allows an important logistic reactivity. For instance, unlike other brands, we do not have to sell our articles off by 50% at the end of the winter because we bought too many articles to China to recoup the transport costs.” the entrepreneur explains.
Even if it is less trendy in France, the Made in France should be a strong argument on the international scene. In 2015, the Slip Français opened its first shop abroad, in Hong-Kong. Its last year 2 million euros fund raising to 360 Capital Partners should enable it to then settle in near-Europe. Originally a pure internet player, the Slip Français is now making 20% of its sales in shops.