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Ahlers Group chairwoman: “Whoever can deliver fastest will win”

By Ole Spötter

Mar 8, 2022

Business |CEO interview

Stella Ahlers | Photo: Ahlers Group

A new showroom, the relaunch of premium brand Baldessarini, an investigation by the EU Commission against Pierre Cardin and a fashion show in Paris - much has been going on at German clothing company Ahlers Group. FashionUnited asked chairwoman Stella Ahlers questions about the extent the company was part of Pierre Cardin's fashion show, how the current order round is going and if there is any truth to the investigations into possible breaches of EU competition rules.

How is the first round of orders coming along?

We have had a very positive start to this order round, which will last a few weeks. First impressions show that the Baldessarini relaunch has worked out great.

Our denim brand Pioneer was able to immediately return to the sales figures of before the Corona crisis after reopening its shops last year. In this respect, we have very positive reactions to Pioneer and the new collection.

The new Pierre Cardin collection has also been very well received. At the beginning of January, to coincide with the start of the ordering season, we opened our new showroom in an exclusive location in Düsseldorf's media and communication’s hub Medienhafen.

The new Ahlers showroom in Düsseldorf, Germany | Photo: Ahlers Group

During the pandemic, there was much talk about changing the seasonal calendar. How far has this process come along?

So far, not much at all. We have always attached importance to bringing in the right goods at the right time. In discussions with our customers, they have specifically praised this approach and we are continuing on this path. Whoever can deliver first will win. The pandemic has reinforced the importance of delivery dates.

What is the order volume like compared to last year?

We will probably achieve a significant plus with Pierre Cardin and Baldessarini. Pioneer's order volumes are also already higher compared to the previous season.

Rodrigo Basilicati-Cardin, great-nephew of Pierre Cardin | Photo: Joel Saget / AFP

Ahlers is a licensee for Pierre Cardin. To what extent are you involved in the current plans for the label's comeback and the collections that will be shown at Paris Fashion Week?

We are in close contact with the House of Cardin in Paris, which is now run by Rodrigo Basilicati-Cardin, his great-nephew. We had the great honour of producing all the denim styles for the Cosmocorps 3022 fashion show in honour of Pierre Cardin at the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace in Le Bourget in Paris, based on cuts from the House of Cardin.

What are some of the current trends? Which pieces are doing well?

Denim was clearly the winner at Pierre Cardin and Pioneer during the last season, and we took this into account when creating the collection. Highly elastic qualities, much attention to detail, organic cotton, recycled materials and low impact washes and the new capsule collection “Pioneer's of Tomorrow” stand for a clear denim competence. But structures, wool looks and Thermo Light are also in greater demand again.

Denim brand Pioneer at the Ahlers showroom in Düssledorf | Photo: Ahlers Group

Is formal wear gaining in importance again?

At Pierre Cardin, formal wear is gaining in importance for the coming autumn/winter season, but in a completely new interpretation. Silhouettes are breaking away from classic rules and styles have to work for many different occasions. The big themes here are separated suits and split suits. Fitted pockets on jackets, cargo shapes for pants and a variety of check patterns define the look and show innovative suit and combination ideas.

At our premium brand Baldessarini, customers are keen to experiment and anything that is not basic works great. Here too, ready-to-wear pieces are gaining in importance, but with innovative materials and new fits. Things are getting dressier again. A real retro statement piece, for example, is a super-soft, oversized blazer with a pointed lapel and belt, which is combined with extra-long, wide straight fit pants or high-quality cotton pants in a wool look.

Regarding the question about the investigations of the EU Commission, there was no direct answer from Ms. Ahlers. The group reacted with a statement: The opening of an antitrust investigation was communicated to Ahlers and the fashion retailer is cooperating with the Commission to enable a speedy clarification of the facts.

Read more: Pierre Cardin and Ahlers under investigation for possible EU competition breach.

The interview was conducted in written format prior to the Russian war against Ukraine.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.de. Edited and translated by Simone Preuss.

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