Big Interview: Monika Kaplan, Global Marketing Director, Reserved

Despite being in London for just a year, Reserved has not wasted a second in letting everyone know they are here, and here to stay. The Retail Gazette spoke to global marketing director Monika Kaplan to dig a little deeper.

“He who is fast arriving, is fast leaving.”

Marek Piechocki, the owner of the Polish retail empire LPP, has certainly practiced what he preaches when it comes to London.

Since its inception in 1999, LPP’s flagship retail fascia Reserved has amassed a market that spans 23 countries, boasting over 450 stores in its estate.

It took nearly 20 years for Reserved to make its mark in the UK, but last September it launched its inaugural store in the heart of London.

Despite taking a long time to arrive here, the fashion retailer has not wasted a second in letting everyone know they are here thanks to its global marketing director Monika Kaplan.

“We were not very well known in the UK, but we’ve been in the market for more than 20 years and we did a lot of different campaigns,” she told the Retail Gazette.

Before the retailer had even opened its doors in the UK, Kate Moss was announced as the face of its first campaign. Following a second with 80s superstar Cindy Crawford, Reserved is now launching a range in partnership with British Vogue, the first of its kind in the magazine’s 100-year history.

“This is something you have in London, you absorb different inspiration and you play with that and experiment”

“It’s something to build awareness, and say: ‘Hey this is Reserved, we have Kate Moss, we have Cindy Crawford, we work with Vogue’,” Kaplan said.

“It’s very important for a new brand in the market.

“It’s very important, unfortunately it is also quite expensive, but it’s worth doing.”

The new 10-piece capsule collection – which launched on December 6 at the retailer’s Oxford Street flagship while also being featured in the next issue of Vogue – is the latest evolution of this strategy.

It incorporates the vision behind both previous campaigns, integrating the 80s aesthetic of its Cindy Crawford campaign, while further establishing itself in the world of British fashion as it did with Kate Moss.

With such a strong international presence, a third-quarter turnover of £190 million and its only London store yet to make a profit, one may question why the brand is ploughing so much effort into breaking into the UK market.

“Definitely out of all of our stores across Europe, the one in London is the most important for us,” Kaplan explained.

“First of all, there’s the openness of the fashion industry for new brands, and them being very enthusiastic about new brands. Also, the openness to this kind of diversity, the diversity of being from eastern Europe.

“The curiosity around our local aesthetic, this is something totally new for us. This is the first and a major thing, this is a great experience for us.

“I mean, this is something you have in London, you absorb different inspirations and you play with that and experiment. And you are not conservative, in that sense anyway.”

As predicted, London’s fashion world has welcomed Reserved with open arms, celebrating its unique style which has previously been absent among the UK’s myriad of fast-fashion high street retailers.

“Each season we release a collection called Re Design, which is mainly around Eastern European aesthetic,” Kaplan added.

“I know that this collection is very much welcome in our London store, the influencers in London love the collection and each season they wait for the collection.”

The Reserved X British Vogue collection goes further, moving past simply breaking into the market and seeking to establish its own individual identity within it.

To do this it has, for the first time, invited Vogue to help shape the collection while maintaining its eastern European heritage.

“Being from central or Eastern Europe, you need to try harder and that’s why every time we try to somehow reinvent something”

“I would call it a collaboration because its more than just linking the two brands of Vogue and Reserved together, it’s also getting Vogue involved in the whole creative process,” Kaplan said.

“We wanted to allow the British experts, that’s how we perceive Vogue, to somehow coach and work together on inspirations and the final style of the collection. But from the beginning we said to Vogue we want the collection to be from Poland.

“What I really would like to mention is that we like to do things that are new, that are for the first time, that are different. Being from central or eastern Europe, you need to try harder and that’s why every time we try to somehow reinvent something.”

By all accounts Kaplan has succeeded in creating something that has never been done before, using Reserved’s heritage and unfamiliar style to its advantage, and firmly establishing it as a contender to the big high street retailers in little more than a year.

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