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Venerable French sportswear icon, le coq sportif, has been experiencing something of a resurgence as of late. Thanks in part to a return to its archives and a renewed partnership with the Tour de France, the Gallic rooster has been making strides internationally with a savvy blend of lifestyle products and performance gear. For more insight into the current state of the brand that has graced the backs of everyone from Arthur Ashe to the Tottenham Hotspurs, we sat down with Marc Chamberlain — sales manager for le coq sportif UK and special projects manager for le coq sportif International — for a chat on le coq sportif’s history, brand strategies and upcoming projects. Read on for the interview in its entirety.
Can you introduce yourself and what you do at le coq sportif?
Hi, my name is Marc Chamberlain and I am sales manager for LCS UK based in London as well as special projects manager for le coq sportif International, working alongside the footwear design and development teams.
What aspect or background of the brand is most interesting?
What a lot of people don’t know is that Émile Camuset started this brand over 130 years ago, since then it’s been involved in pretty much every popular sport there is going. Also the endorsements with stars like Yannick Noah and Arthur Ashe along with teams like Argentina and Tottenham Hotspur. All champions who’ve had the Gallic rooster emblazoned across their chest.
Also the brand has seen an important resurgence these past two years. What prompted that?
It’s funny because in France the brand has always been huge, but for one reason or another it went quiet in some of the other regions. Resurgence has mainly been down to the fact we started tapping into our back catalog and really pushing the fact we are one of the only truly authentic sports heritage brands.
How would you define the current positioning of the brand and what are you striving to achieve?
Bringing le coq sportif back to its former glory as a performance brand! The renewed partnership with Le Tour de France offers the opportunity to showcase our technology for the top champions and also to bring cool cycling stories from the past with a modern twist. And at the same time celebrating our heritage with fresh new reissues of winning styles such as the Eclat, The Flash, and the LCS R1000.
What has been the overall strategy towards retail?
The idea is definitely not to become a true retailer but has rather been towards having stores in the European fashion capitals. We have been established in Paris for a few years but in the past 12 months we’ve opened in Milan, Barcelona and now London. Our stores enable us to show our collections in their entirety across footwear, apparel and accessories, while telling our beautiful stories.
What about strategy towards marketing and partnerships? We’ve seen a fair amount of collaborations with le coq this past season…
In fact one of the first projects we did from the UK was to work on a premium bring back of our signature Arthur Ashe tennis shoe with the guys from hanon; this really got the ball rolling. Then we moved on to projects with Foot Patrol and then Sneaker Freaker. I’d like to tell you there was a grand plan as to how we chose the partners to work with, but it’s more about working with people who appreciate what a great brand LCS is.
“Bringing le coq sportif back to its former glory as a performance brand! The renewed partnership with Le Tour de France offers the opportunity to showcase our technology for the top champions and also to bring cool cycling stories from the past with a modern twist.”
Marc Chamberlain on what the brand
is striving to achieve
What are some of the most difficult aspects of the business right now? How do you plan to overcome it?
Probably the overall drop-off with the canvas category – the market has become massively over-saturated. Luckily we have a vast array of retro sport product we can bring to the table.
How do you balance the performance and lifestyle aspects of the brand?
The idea is to address the same consumer at different time of his/her day, and offer both lifestyle products (footwear and apparel) and performance gear (women and men, cycling or fitness). But I’d like to think the savoir faire of LCS comes through in both sides…
Any last words you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects we should know about?
We have a couple more projects in the pipeline for the rest of the year but I think everyone is too excited about the FP and SF projects for now, so let’s just say wait and see…