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French brand Courreges takes retro fashion online

French fashion house Courreges co-Presidents Bungert and Torloting pose at their offices in Paris
French fashion house Courreges co-Presidents Bungert and Torloting pose at their offices in Paris

By Pascale Denis

PARIS (Reuters) - Courreges, the futuristic fashion brand of the 1960s, is poised to bring its vinyl boots and A-line mini-dresses back into vogue, relaunching the French name online.

A year after the brand was sold for more than 10 million euros ($13.05 million) to two directors from advertising agency Young & Rubicam, Jacques Bungert and Frederic Torloting, Courreges is now also aiming to expand its perfume business.

The simple shapes and minimalist black and white palette of the couturier Andre Courreges -- a protege of Balenciaga -- had their heydey in the 1960s and 70s, rivaling Chanel and Dior, before being sold to Japanese investors in the 1980s.

A decade later Courreges and his wife Coqueline bought back the brand but it largely disappeared from sight before the purchase by Bungert and Torloting in January 2011.

"We're hoping that the brand returns, in five to 10 years, to its former stature as a global brand with its dimension of innovation that earlier made its success," Bungert told Reuters.

"When the feeling of a brand is respected, it can be reborn without losing its integrity," he added.

Currently, Courreges clothes and accessories are sold at its Paris boutique in the posh Eighth Arrondissement, where sales have risen 40 percent in a year, Bungert said. Total revenue for the brand is now about 20 million, the executives said.

Internet sales begin February 1, and women will be able to shop online for nearly all the clothes and accessories currently sold in the boutique.

Torloting said Courreges' design lends itself well to online sales, as the brand does not use the kind of delicate fabrics that could get damaged in transit.

As for perfume, Courreges' "Empreinte" and "Eau de Courreges," currently sold only in the boutique, will now be distributed more widely, and a publicity campaign, the first since 1996, is planned.

As Paris Fashion Week launched Monday with its bi-annual Haute Couture shows, Torloting said he has no intention of parading twice-yearly collections on the catwalk at the industry's fashion weeks.

Founder Andre Courreges refused to use celebrities to promote his swinging sixties styles, claiming designs such as his 1964 "Space Age" collection were created for the "ordinary woman."

"The idea of creating collections that push each other out is not very modern in our view," Torloting told Reuters.

"We don't want to manufacture our own obsolescence," he said.

(Writing by Alexandria Sage, editing by Paul Casciato)

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