Just two months after Sonia Rykiel passed, and a month after designer Julie de Libran presented a heartfelt Spring 2017 homage to the legendary redhead, the French house has announced plans to shutter Sonia by Sonia Rykiel, the diffusion label Rykiel launched in 1999 as the “little sister” of her eponymous collection.
“Today, it is essential for the house to rethink and revitalize itself,” Sonia Rykiel CEO Eric Langon told WWD, citing reasons like the impact of the financial crisis in Russia, slow spending in Asia, and a decrease in European tourism after the terrorist attacks in Paris last November. And despite seeing a slight growth in revenue last year, Langon told the trade it just isn’t sufficient in the long-term. “Unfortunately,” he added, “the economic situation remains very complicated and 2016 is also difficult.” The majority of the Sonia by stores—there are currently four—will close by the end of next year.
In addition to shuttering the secondary line, the brand also plans to lay off 79 of its 330 workers in departments like design and distribution—about a quarter of its staff. The label also plans to “reposition” its main Sonia Rykiel line by introducing lower price points in categories like knitwear, which the house is known for. (Langon noted that they did this for Fall 2016, and it was successful, though he didn’t cite specific numbers.) This strategy is not unlike what we've seen at brands like Marc Jacobs, which last year folded its Marc by Marc Jacobs line and began offering a broader range of items at varying price points.
As part of the brand’s new strategy, Langon also said the company wants to develop its online presence and expand e-commerce, which is smart. It’s also, like many brands, considering “see now, buy now,” though if the results from Burberry’s highly publicized consumer-focused format was any indication, promising sales are never guaranteed.