Costelloe counts on royal fans as he goes upmarket
FASHION designer Paul Costelloe has spoken about ditching his traditional mid-market collection and taking a new luxury-end direction.
The Dubliner said, "you either go up or you die" as he announced he was shifting up from mid-market prices of €150-€400, despite the recession.
The decision means Costelloe has shelved production of his mid-range Autumn-Winter 2011 ladieswear collection.
However, he has been buoyed by a new fanbase in the royal family -- dressing Zara Phillips, Carole Middleton and now Autumn Phillips for Zara's July 30 wedding in Edinburgh.
And he says he fully intends to showcase new, top-end designs at London Fashion Week in September.
"My business has been hit badly over a number of seasons because our consumers were the ones who were hit more in the credit crunch -- young mums with children, both parents working.
"They've become very selective of what they buy and they've been buying less -- and buying better, probably," said Costelloe, speaking from London yesterday. What I'm trying to do is restructure the ladieswear and develop the Costelloe brand for the new era, for the internet, for the fashion consumer and move it up a step.
"I'm not going to say super luxury but definitely it will be the more special end of the market with lower volume, higher value."
Costelloe's decision to refocus his brand was made, in part, after critical acclaim for his colourful Autumn-Winter 2011 collection.
"What I showed on the catwalk for this Autumn-Winter got an incredible reception, but those designs would retail from €500-€1,000. Most of them would never have gone into production, because they were priced too high for my present position in ladieswear on the shop floor," he said.
"I feel now it is time where the upper-end market has been doing really well. It's just crazy how brands like Burberry and Gucci and Chanel are still dominant and growing and people like Mulberry are expanding.
"But it is that middle person who is struggling and we are being beaten on the high street, so you either go up or you die.
"And that's my plan to develop and make it more exciting that it ever has been."
Costelloe says the reaction to his recent, high-profile designs "has convinced me that I'm a reasonably good designer".
"I think that compromising to such an extent has devalued the Paul Costelloe name so I want to move it back up again," he said.
"It takes courage -- it takes belief to change but I have that and I'm pretty lucky.
"Oddly enough, I don't have a backer for this. At this stage it's going to be Costelloe and family and sons pulling it. I'm looking at restructuring the ladieswear . . . everything else can develop from it -- the jewellery, the homeware."