Why we’re all in quilted cheap Moncler jackets

Fashion blogger Lisa Hahnbück wearing a black quilted jacket by Moncler, one of the brands most responsible for popularising the trend.

They used to be reserved for ski slopes and the school playground but now the quilted coats originally known as Puffa jackets have been embraced by the masses. In 2018 the search engine Lyst, which features 12,000 brands and retailers, reported a 59% year-on-year rise in searches for them, declaring them a global bestseller.

Their popularity chimes with the rise in sportswear and “normcore” – the trend that sees designers mining everyday items to drench high fashion in irony. Where once hiking boots were functional footwear and anoraks were most commonly associated with trainspotting, thanks to big-name brands such as Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton, they are now two of the trendiest items to own.

With quilted coats, the reason for increased sales lies largely at the door of Italian brand Moncler, which has redoubled its efforts at making the aesthetic relevant to a new generation through a series of high-profile collaborations.

Last February, Moncler launched its Genius project, for which a group of the world’s most influential designers – including Simone Rocha, Craig Green and Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli – created capsule collections blending their style with the technical expertise of the brand.

Aimed at targeting a growing appetite for newness from global consumers who increasingly – and impatiently – absorb trends through social media, each collection became available in highly publicised monthly “drops”, rather than being traditional seasonal offerings.

Fashion blogger Vanessa Hong in another Moncler jacket.

Last week, the brand announced that, for its third season, returning designers would be joined by two of fashion’s most talked-about creators: the Kanye West protege and Dior Menswear collaborator Matthew Williams of Alyx, and Richard Quinn, who last year was presented with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth award for design at his London Fashion Week show by the monarch herself.

“When talking to customers in a digital world, brands need something unique and strong, and you need to talk to them every day. This monthly strategy is a strong opportunity to change the model of luxury companies like Moncler outlet online,” says chief executive and chairman Remo Ruffini who joined the company in 2003. “These days the mood, the attitude and the energy are more important than the product for me, and perception is much more important than everything … If you are able to mix product and energy, I think that’s a modern company today.”

Ruffini’s strategy of raising the profile of the quilted jacket brand has proven successful so far.

Last year, Moncler’s UK online traffic rose more than 50% each month following the Genius launch, while in the first nine months of the year total sales were up 23%, reaching €872.7m (£674.2m).In turn, one of its largest retailers, Matchesfashion.com, says that it has “seen strong client engagement with the designer collaborations, which has had a positive halo effect across the rest of the Moncler collection,” according to head of womenswear buying Liane Wiggins.

“Moncler is ahead of the game with its motto of ‘one house, different voices’,” says Quinn. “It’s the opposite of one person dictating how things should be done – the modern world is different and there’s a need to work with and support each other.”

Now the trend is trickling down to the high street, where prices are considerably more accessible than Moncler’s £500-plus. Zara, for example, has no fewer than 100 new-season styles across its men’s and womenswear collections from £29.99. It informs customers that they are “ideal for a sporty look and provide extra warmth, while lightweight pieces take up almost no space”. It also points out that that they are “ideal for travelling” – whether on the slopes, or, as is now normal, on a mild daily commute.

Chinese Tourists Flock to Fashion Outlets of Chicago

Prada store in the Fashion Outlets of Chicago.

Affluent Chinese shoppers are well-known for their ability to sniff out good bargains. When they travel to foreign countries, some of their favorite destinations include outlet malls in suburban areas that offer discounted luxury goods.

In recent years, the global outlet mall industry has aggressively sought to grab a slice of this lucrative Chinese shopping segment. Macerich’s Fashion Outlets of Chicago is home to a group of world-class luxury brands like Prada, Gucci, Tory Burch, Moncler, and Michael Kors—all of which are sought-after brands for Chinese luxury consumers.

With a mix of strategies involving social media outreach and experiential marketing through customer service, the Fashion Outlets of Chicago showcases many certifiable methods malls should use to court Chinese luxury shoppers during their visits to the States. So what exactly can other malls learn?

Get on Chinese travelers’ itinerary first

The planning for Chinese shopping junkets begins long before consumers leave China. That’s why, for outlet malls, it’s an absolute must to build a reputation within China and get on the radar of Chinese consumers while they’re planning their itineraries. Because of this reality, Fashion Outlets of Chicago chose to develop a comprehensive digital and social media outreach strategy. The company maintains active Weibo and WeChat accounts so it can regularly release sales and product information while driving awareness to digital-savvy Chinese consumers. It uses WeChat, specifically, to reach the local Chinese communities, keeping them continually informed about what’s available at the shopping center.

ollaborate with key players

Fashion Outlets of Chicago also makes sure to work with their large, local tourism publications and tourism boards to further promote themselves on those social media channels. For example, the Chicago Tourism Bureau’s official account on Weibo—with over 546,000 followers—posts about the Fashion Outlet and their sales offerings regularly.

Meanwhile, the outlet has worked closely with a marketing agency specifically to target Chinese visitors by connecting to local colleges, tour guides, and various other stakeholders. A great example of this is the Fashion Outlets of Chicago’s strategic partnership with Chicago-area universities, which welcomes new Chinese students by offering them welcome packets and access to shopping shuttles between their universities and the shopping center.

Offer a unique and culturally-engaging shopping experience

The mall provides Chinese travelers with an especially artful shopping environment—one that differentiates itself from rival outlet stores. Since 2013, the Fashion Outlets of Chicago has unveiled a collection of curated, site-specific artworks throughout the shopping center to create a memorable shopping environment for tourists. Some featured art pieces include Daniel Arsham’s falling figure relief situated within the car park and Jen Stark’s psychedelic mural which delights visitors as they enter and exit the space.

In 2016, Fashion Outlets of Chicago decided to further its art initiatives by launching an art program that allows visitors to access and enjoy contemporary artworks on display by both established emerging artists. The suitable theme of this program is: “Where art meets fashion.”

Targeting the Chinese luxury traveler demographic with contemporary art is smart because those consumers have become much more attuned to the art of living artists recently, and they’re generally excited by retailers that offer them unique and immersive experiences.

Make Chinese travelers feel at home

The last step is to provide world-class service to Chinese travelers and make their shopping experience as comfortable as possible. Fashion Outlets of Chicago achieves this by offering in-store signage in Mandarin and by providing in-store Mandarin translation services. At the center’s Concierge Services, Chinese consumers with valid passports can receive a free seven-day trial of the mall’s savings pass (which offers up to $800 in savings). On some Chinese holidays, such as the Chinese Lunar New Year, the mall hosts performances, activities, and games for Chinese travelers and gives away red envelopes—a New Year’s tradition that spreads good luck.

Craig Green teams up with Moncler

Craig Green is one of the fashion industry’s biggest successes from the past five years. He has commanded fans in the likes of Drake, Rihanna and, more recently, Pusha T, and is thanked for changing the way that men are changing. Sure, his designs are bold, but they’ve got people interested.

Green’s next move is a major milestone in his career. The 32-year-old Londoner is launching his Genius Project collection – a collaboration with the Italian brand Moncler, which sees the label team up with other designers such as Simone Rocha and Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccoli. Through his collection, Green has reinvented Moncler’s signature puffer jacket in true Green form.

For his collection, Green has created ten looks finished with his aesthetic touchstones. The garments are as brilliantly moody and conceptual as you’d expect. Key pieces include a hybrid of one of Green’s signature quilted worker jackets (“One day we want it to be the case that if you go and get a worker jacket, you go and get a Craig Green worker jacket,” the designer told me. “Just like if you go and get a trench, you’d get a Burberry trench”) and a cheap classic Moncler down jacket. “It’s a bit like a biker jacket bomber,” says Green.