How and why the Parisian brand Officine Generale was born really interested me. (By the way, is it “General Workshop” in English?)
The founder and the designer of the brand, Pierre Mahéo mentioned during an interview that the label was born out of “his disgust towards the [fashion] system.”
How many fashion insiders would say something like that?
Secondly, the label is categorised as a “affordable luxury” brand by the industry. The phrase “affordable luxury” is to us what coffee is to coffee addict.
It all started from Pierre’s business trips to China to visit the manufacturing factories, where he was horrified by the fact that “people were overworked, underpaid, treated like animals, they were not even allowed to look at me when I was walking by!” (That’s “Made in China” for you, Pierre.)
His frustration and ambition urged him to create his own label, with a commitment to always focus on quality fabric, reasonable price point and ethical business practices – values he found lack of in many high-end fashion businesses that favour cheaper fabric and labour for higher margin. That also explains why he boycotted some manufacturers, and have all his pieces manufactured in Portugal. He does have a heart of gold.
When it comes to the style and aesthetic of the label, it is workwear meets tailoring, simplicity meets elegant. It is definitely not a label with fashion that “wow” but for those who appreciate quality and wearability.
But just how “affordable” is Officine Generale?
Let’s compare a few wool suit jackets on Mr Porter:
From a bird-eye view, the pricing of OG suit jacket is above other affordable lines, but below some high-end and established fashion houses.
But, do note that a price tag in fashion and luxury is often time affected by a brand’s history and heritage, marketing expenses and the pricing methodology driven by the “exclusiveness” status. If you wish to gauge the actual value of a Officine Generale piece, apparently here’s how they have been keeping the price reasonable without compromising the quality:
- Low overhead cost (less staffing)
- Constant effort to improve supply-chain by eliminating unnecessary parties
- No marketing expenses
The “no marketing expenses” part made me see the OG suit jacket in a new light.
Also consider this: they’re only a 2-year-old brand (launched in January 2012,) and they’re now profitable enough to run a brick-and-mortar in Paris, and expecting a second branch in Paris this autumn.
It seems like a good new brand to put money in. But the bad thing I heard is we can’t really expect much discount sales from them.