Officine Générale Chooses Print for First Global Ad Campaign

·4 min read

Officine Générale has big plans for the second half — the addition of seven stores, the continued expansion of womenswear — so, it was time to take a higher profile through the launch of the company’s first global advertising campaign.

Last May, Pierre Maheo, designer and founder of the Paris-based brand, sold a minority stake to Untitled Group, a New York-based investment fund, which joined BPI France, a public investment bank that invested in the brand in 2015, and mapped out an expansion plan that included a retail rollout.

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The brand operates 10 stores with a unit in Los Angeles slated to be added this fall along with another store in Paris and others in Provence and Lyon, France.

“The business is doing well,” Maheo said, so the addition of an ad campaign was a “natural process. It’s important to be more visible.”

Officine Generale fall ad campaign.
The campaign will kick off in France on Aug. 26.

The campaign, which is centered around the fall 2022 collection, is a collaboration between Maheo and his longtime friends, photographer Vincent van de Wijngaard, and Dutch model Saskia de Brauw, both of whom served as creative directors along with Marc Schuijt. The campaign also features model Henry Kitcher.

“It would have been natural to shoot in Paris, but everyone is doing that,” he said. So instead, Maheo opted to return to the coast of Brittany, France, where he grew up, to conceptualize the campaign, which is being called “Shores.”

The images were shot in Audresselles in the Pas-de-Calais region and speak to Maheo’s childhood memories of the “sea, rocks and shore,” he said. “I was born in the seaside so this background and its surroundings truly talk to me and strengthen the perception of the products, connecting it to our environmental approach, in terms of quality, materials and sourcing.”

But not only the location was different. Maheo was also adamant that his first campaign would be centered around print rather than digital.

“I don’t believe in it,” he said of digital advertising. “I read something three years ago that said we see so many images every day that we don’t register that much. But when we look at a magazine, book or newspaper, our brain registers more.”

So he had van de Wijngaard shoot on 16-mm film to create images that could “tell a true story. We were looking for an accident, not a studio shoot and perfection,” he said, adding that Officine Générale’s clothes are designed to be worn every day and lived in, not left static on a hangar.

According to De Brauw: “Audresselles is known for its beautiful fossil beaches, long stretches of coastline covered with traces of a past long gone, visible for those who carefully look. These are the details that Pierre Mahéo looks for too, a fold, seemingly accidental becomes significant, a T-shirt popping out from a shirt is never an accident for Pierre, the inside of a jacket, the delicate materials used, remain hidden for some but a gem for those who appreciate beauty, comfort and ‘Parisian elegance.'”

The photos, which are reminiscent of another of Maheo’s passions, ’60s movies, are intentionally different from other fashion campaigns and are intended to “promote an image that is much more related to a mood or atmosphere,” he said.

And while the ad campaign is not intended to replace the brand’s twice-yearly fashion shows, they are intended to complement the message he delivers on the catwalk.

Maheo said he has long wanted to work with van de Wijngaard and admires his ability to “push the format” through his technical expertise with a camera.

“When I was a child, my family took a trip to the seaside and my father, a photographer, asked me to look through the lens of his camera — there a new world of possibilities opened up for me,” van de Wijngaard said. “‘Shores’ is about revisiting this place, and tracing back the past to find a new point of departure.”

Maheo said he is already working on plans on an ad campaign for the spring 2023 campaign, and although he’s still tossing around ideas, he’s clear on what the message will be.

“In creating this campaign, I needed to go outside, to travel, to escape from the city. This is a direction we will look to follow for our future campaigns. I want to offer emotionally immersive images not based on the products, we have e-commerce to focus on the product,” Mahéo said.

The fall campaign will launch on Aug. 26 in M le Monde in France, followed by the U.K. and greater Europe in the Financial Times’ How to Spend It, on Sept. 3, and in the New York Times in the U.S. on Sept. 4. In addition to the print ads, the campaign will also be featured in newsstand shelters in New York, as well as kiosks and metro entrances in Paris and on an outdoor wall covering the Rue du Bac in the 7th arrondissement.

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