As of 1st of January 2015 Robert Polet has joined North Sails Apparel as a partner. As a passionate sailing fan and previous CEO of the Gucci Group, Robert Polet will support North Sails’ relaunch for its debut at the upcoming January 2015 edition of Pitti Uomo (13-16 January 2015).
Robert Polet will work side by side with Eric Bijlsma, who recently became a major shareholder and CEO of North Sails Apparel, former CEO of Scotch&Soda and a highly competitive regatta sailor too. The manager duo will support the relaunch of the brand that was recently acquired by Oakley Capital Private Equity.
Eric Bijlsma commented: “Robert Polet will be able to support me and guide me through the Italian culture. North Sails is strongly rooted in Italy in terms of market quotas, product value and production terms. He is a true ‘brand builder’, a fundamental aspect for North Sails’ present moment. He is also a true sailing lover and has great interest for innovation and performance. These are the main reasons that explain why he entered the company.”
During Pitti Uomo Eric Bijlsma and Robert Polet will disclose the new direction that North Sails will follow from f/w 2015. Two major events have been scheduled. On 13 January, at 6:30pm, the new North Sails store concept will be presented in Florence, in Via dei Tosinghi 12 r. On the following day, on 14 January, they will hold a press event and a cocktail party from 3pm inside Fortezza da Basso, at Magazzino 07.
After its debut at Pitti, North Sails will participate in Premium in Berlin a few days later. “The brand, now part of the North Technology Group portfolio (owner of the North Sails specialized sailing brands), will be now taking a more fashion-driven direction, while keeping intact its own DNA,” commented Eric Bijlsma, in an interview whose integral version can be read in Sportswear International, issue 265, to be released on 16 January 2015.
“Since its birth in 1957, North Sails has been a most innovative sail maker brand in the world. Today it continues to have an incredible brand value,” explains the manager, an expert of the sportswear market who previously worked for Scotch & Soda.
“Our relaunch will focus mainly on performance and innovations, two elements the brand is strong and renowned for, and on aesthetics, an aspect it needed to improve.” Leading this redesign process is a design team of the brand guided by Mauro Taliani, expert fashion insider who worked at Hugo Boss for 26 years.
The revamped brand will offer three lines - Black, Deep Blue and Ocean Blue – and will target mainly male customers of any age or, as Bijlsma likes to say, “between 16 and 80”. The Black line is the top line and has a masculine, clean, but not minimalist attitude. Deep Blue is aimed at the brand’s more traditional customers and mixes menswear with technical innovation. Ocean Blue is the youngest one and offers denim pieces treated with innovative washes and salted effect finishes. The brand will also launch the Icons, a range of must-have iconic, non-seasonal items, the top essentials for a man’s wardrobe. Skilled technical elements originating from the brand’s functional and protective DNA will also be reinvented according to its modern design spirit.
North Sails registers estimated yearly sales of about €50 million and is sold internationally to about 1,500 independent stores and 50 monobrand stores, 40 of whose are based in Italy.
Italy continues to be the apparel brand’s major market despite they expect to expand further internationally. “We have set up a local presence in all of the world’s major markets such as Germany, France, Benelux, UK, Australia and Japan,” commented Bijlsma. “Though our nearest targets, in addition to further growing in Italy, are Europe, China and the US.”