Accessories brand Topologie boosts Parisian presence, targets European expansion
One year after entering the French market, French-Japanese accessories brand Topologie has opened a retail corner at urban/sportswear department store Citadium Caumartin in Paris. The 30-square-metre space, inaugurated on December 11, showcases Topologie’s urban-style bags and its signature telephone cords with small carabiners, a nod to climbing equipment. With its new, fully customisable collection called Wares System, the brand created in 2018 by Carlos Granon and Go Urano is repositioning itself, focusing entirely on co-designed products.
The Franco-Japanese duo is keen to tap the commitment and loyalty of Topologie customers, adopting a hybrid commercial approach defined as retailtainment, a marketing strategy inspired by US malls, where the shopping experience is designed to be fun and amusing for consumers. Topologie customers can for example choose the size (in millimetres), material and colour of the phone cords, all of them displayed on walls, as well as the desired carabiner and phone case, creating their own personalised product.
“Topologie's Wares System means a genuine repositioning for us. We have stopped doing what we did before, and from now on all our new products will be entirely conceived with co-design in mind,” said Granon. “We really want to put this self-service approach centre-stage in our stores, so that customers will feel free to devise their own configurations,” he added.
Topologie tested this total customisation concept in its Tokyo flagship, located in the trendy Harajuku district, which opened in July. Granon said the brand is ready “to replicate the experience at scale. In February, we will open a shop-in-shop at the Galeries Lafayette’s Haussmann [branch in Paris], featuring a multi-purpose shelving solution and modular furniture designed in Milan.” Consumers will be able to take selfies with their creations, and admire them in the store’s many mirrors.
Telephone cords a success
Topologie currently generates half of its sales in Japan, where the DNVB has been present ever since it was founded four years ago, but Granon and Urano are increasingly keen on expanding in western markets. In France, Topologie is currently available at 13 multibrand retailers, among them Merci and Fleux in Paris, and Jogging Jogging in Marseilles. The brand has said that in 2023 it will be commercialised via a further dozen stores in Europe, in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
Granon said that Topologie, founded by two childhood friends both crazy about climbing, currently “generates a revenue of $25 million worldwide, and of €500,000 in France, half of it through the wholesale channel and the other half online.” E-tail is indeed a crucially important source of revenue for Topologie. Granon said that the brand is reinvesting “30% of its online sales, and is truly focused on a D2C business model, selling directly to our customers.”
Topologie has a staff of about 60, and its success is explained by “the fact that contemporary consumers are dependent on smartphones, which they wear and carry everywhere thanks to phone cords,” according to Granon, a graduate of the HEC business school who was based in Hong Kong but moved to Bangkok because of the pandemic.
Topologie's bags and cords are manufactured by a Chinese factory located 30 km from Shanghai. In January, Topologie will equip its Tokyo flagship with a printer to decorate phone cases with on-demand patterns designed by mangaka artists.
The brand is well-versed in collaborations - in June it teamed up with Koché to design a mirrored phone case and royal blue cord - and has drawn inspiration from previous partnerships to expand its assortment. At the end of October, Topologie joined forces with Taiwanese label Sputnik to drop a series of leashes and cushioned harnesses for dogs, and wants to launch its own pet accessories line next year.
In addition to a capsule collection of handbags and shoulder bags for the next spring-summer season, and a range of key rings due to be released in autumn 2023, Topologie is thinking about a ready-to-wear collection, also inspired by the world of climbing and developed with co-design in mind.
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