Popular with teens in the 1990s, Kipling wants to now attract the teens of today

SINGAPORE – Best known for its crinkle nylon bags and fluffy monkey key chains, Belgian fashion brand Kipling has revamped to target younger millennial consumers.

The label’s bags were highly popular with teens in the 1990s, but their loyal following aged with the brand and its bags with multiple compartments and large pockets appeal more to practical mothers rather than fashion forward youth.

This year, the 31-year-old label has taken on a fresh look with global president of the brand Vera Breuer at helm.

“We are really targeting generation Z, the millenials. We want them to get to know the brand, and for our products and our story to be able to reach out to them,” says Ms Breuer who is in her 40s.

“Millenials need a reason why they should buy a bag. So for us our purpose is to lighten people’s step with bags that are lightweight and easy to use.”

Ms Breuer says that the change was also initiated because the label while growing, was doing so at a slower rate.

“We have seen that growth, though positive, has been slowing down. So we knew we needed to reach a new range of customers.”

 Besides a change in colour palette, bag designs have also taken on a sleeker more urban vibe. PHOTO: KIPLING

According to the label, one Kipling bag is sold every two seconds around the world and the brand has seen positive double digit growth in the last two years. Kipling has over 650 stores in over 60 countries. In Singapore, it has 16 locations including four stores, one outlet store, and has 11 shop-in-shops.

Ms Breur, an Austrian mother-of-two, says to move forward, they had to look back.

“We went back to what the brand was when it first started – much more unisex. I think we became a little bit too pink. So we have drawn back from that to become more inclusive, using colours which are less feminine and more neutral.”

Besides a change in colour palette, bag designs have also taken on a sleeker more urban vibe. Rather than rounded bags with multiple side pockets, newer designs have simpler silhouettes and modernised textures. A crossbody bag starts from $89 and backpack starts from $129.

Ms Breuer says the designs now also aim to be “occasion free”.

“We used to have a clear distinction between work bags, casual bags, bags for women and bags for men. Now we have more unisex bags that can be taken from the office to a yoga session to a weekend outing.”

The brand’s logo has also been edited. Once distinguished by the silhouette of a monkey, the new Kipling logo keeps the same font but has dropped the iconic animal.

Besides a change in colour palette, bag designs have also taken on a sleeker more urban vibe. PHOTO: KIPLING

“The previous logo with the monkey was more feminine and we wanted to be more inclusive,” explains Ms Breuer.

Kipling is not the only label to have taken on a new direction recently. In the last few years, established labels such as jewellery brand Tiffany & Co. have taken on younger ambassadors to front marketing campaigns and attract new consumers. Fashion labels such as French brand Celine and British luxury label Burberry also announced new logos this year.

Retail experts while rebranding is not uncommon for companies, their strategies have to go beyond just logo designs and superficial changes to succeed.

Mr Samuel Tan, course manager in retail management at Temasek Polytechnic: “Rebranding is not uncommon as it is a strategy used for dealing with challenges such as mergers, market changes, or even bad publicity. Sometimes rebranding is done progressively as the brand grows, or as a way to penetrate a new market or reach a different target audience.”

Associate Professor Ang Swee Hoon, from the National University of Singapore Business School’s department of marketing, says that in today’s digital world, brand logos have to do more.

“A logo is no longer just a static symbol placed on a printed page, package, TV ad, billboard, or store display. Instead, logos today must also meet the demands of a very diverse set of digital devices and media.”

She says a logo that looks great in a magazine might fail miserably in a social media setting on a smartphone screen.

 Besides a change in colour palette, bag designs have also taken on a sleeker more urban vibe. PHOTO: KIPLING

“Most logo modifications focus on creating simpler, brighter, more modern designs that present better on digital screens and platforms.”

Prof Ang adds that fashion labels may want to look more relevant and a refreshed logo is suggestive of that.

“For example, Burberry’s new logo was revealed via an Instagram post, suggestive that the social media market are instrumental in the logo change.”

But rebranding also has its challenges.

Mr Tan says if not done carefully, rebranding could also create a disassociation between a product and its customers.

“Delicate planning needs to be made to the product assortment sustain customer loyalty.”

At Kipling, retaining their older clients is part of the brand’s renovation goals.

“We love our customers today and we don’t want to alienate them. The rebranding is an evolution more than a revolution. We are keeping our brand heritage but transforming to recruit new customers.”

Other labels that have rebranded recently

1. Tiffany & Co

Elle Fanning in a Tiffany & Co campaign. PHOTO: TIFFANY & CO

Earlier this year, the American luxury jewellery retailer made a distinct move towards targeting younger affluent shoppers with a marketing campaign led by 20-year-old American actress Elle Fanning. A video for the campaign not only featured Fanning showing of some slick hip-hop inspired dance moves on the streets of New York City, but it was also accompanied by a remix of the song Moon River by rapper A$AP Ferg.

2. Celine

A tote bag from Celine displaying the label’s former logo. PHOTO: CELINE

In September, the French luxury label debuted a new logo. The accent on the ‘e’ in Celine, was removedas part of the new logo.

When the brand revealed the new logo on Instagram, and also deleted all previous posts on the account, seemingly wanting a fresh start.

Celine’s new logo. PHOTO: CELINE

The move was seen by many as the beginning of a new direction for Celine since fashion designer Hedi Slimane took over creative reins in January.

3. Burberry

Burberry’s old logo (above) and the new logo. PHOTOS: BURBERRY

As part of the label’s rebranding under new chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci, Burberry unveiled a new logo and monogram in August.

The new logo and monogram preceded Tisci’s debut Burberry collection which was released in September.

The new logo has a bold sans-serif font, replacing the previous serif style created in 1999.

The new monogram features an interlocking TB pattern, inspired by the initials of the fashion house’s founder Thomas Burberry.

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