With Kate Moss as the face, advertising all over London and a giant new store where BHS used to be on Oxford Street, the launch of Polish high street brand Reserved ticks every box on the success sheet. Though the H&M Group are currently overwhelming the central London shopping district with Arket, & Other Stories, COS and of course H&M, Reserved is hot on their heels – already three times bigger than the Swedish multi-national in Poland and parts of Eastern Europe.
Reserved is one of several clothing brands owned by LPP, one of Forbes’ 50 most innovative growth companies for 2017, currently valued at $3.2 billion. LPP CEO Marek Piechocki is quick to stress he has no interest in being a “Philip Green” character on the fashion circuit; instead, he wants to focus LPP’s history, heritage and family values (he insists neither he nor his children will ever sell their shares.)
Last week, ahead of the 6th September London store opening, Marek showed us around the incredibly plush, architectural dream Reserved headquarters in Gdańsk, a pretty Polish beach town. The LPP story, he explains, began in 1989, the year that ended 44 years of communist rule in Poland, when the average salary of Poles was £20 a month. Back then, Poles had to pay for things with coupons, queueing for hours for their allotted sausages at shops with empty shelves, and their prescribed two pairs of shoes a year. “In 1989, we had freedom, but nothing else”, Marek explains, “The first thing we wanted was food, and then garments.” He started LPP two years later in 1991, and launched Reserved in 1998, when the average salary of Poles had risen to £200 a month. The first store was 20 square metres and sold shell-suit style jogging suits – the kind of thing you’d see on Stormzy today and think ‘cool’. For comparison, the new London store is 30 thousand square metres! From truly humble beginnings, Reserved now makes 1.5 billion in sales and has 1700 shops in 20 countries. “We’re proud of what we’ve achieved in 25 years of political freedom”, Marek says.
You could say: the business is sorted. As for the marketing? Well, Kate Moss might be the face now (photographed by fashion favourite Dan Jackson), but she’s not even the first British supermodel to work with the Polish retail giant. From 2013 to 2016, Georgia May Jagger was the face of the brand, appearing in campaigns alongside her mother Jerry Hall and in a stunning film short by Polish director Antoni Nykowski. Jagger also collaborated with the brand on a collection in October 2015. Oh, and Cara Delevingne modelled in the Spring/Summer '13 campaign! So though keen to emphasise its Polish identity, and indeed continue to work with Polish photographers and models, Reserved is actually well acquainted with the British fashion scene.
Serious business credentials and flawless marketing aside, the true success of the brand will inevitably depend on the product. Led by Japanese designer Sho Kondo, whose CV includes Balenciaga, Isabel Marant and Zara, the creative direction of the brand is as impressive as its strategy. “Reserved is a young brand on the global market”, Sho explains, “We believe it has its own identity but it is an evolving one. We are still defining that identity and the opening of the Oxford Street store is part of that process.” Sho’s team take inspiration from Polish street fashion, from the catwalks of the fashion capitals, and from trips around the world with no other brief than “be inspired” to Asia and Europe. Their mood boards are an eclectic mix of trends, fabrics and streetwear.
The clothes hitting London stores range from green and blue tartan kilts to crushed velvet evening wear, sports casual jumpers and wide-leg satin trousers, ripped bottom jeans, corduroy suits, hefty camel coats and a healthy dose of shiny vinyl. As every good high street brand knows, the secret to success is in the familiar – clothes and trends that cater for you now, that make sense and are desirable for today. This, Reserved does with aplomb.
The team refreshes the store collections every two weeks, and the process is so streamlined that their ideas can translate into garments in store in less than 15 days. Despite the very fast turnaround and constantly refreshed collections, Marek says they are a socially and ethically responsible company. Their mantra is “do as you would be done by […] We are responsible for the people and the environment. We are always on time salaries. We prioritise the health and wellbeing of our people.”
Opening its doors to the public today (6th September), Reserved has every reason to feel confident.