It started as a rugby-pitch prank. Now Franck Mesnel is looking for a London flagship for his sporty French brand.
The story behind Eden Park’s pink bow tie logo is a fitting introduction to the rugby-inspired French brand. Franck Mesnel and his teammates at Racing Club de Paris started their sartorial escapades on the rubgy pitches of their opposing teams in 1987, when they walked out in berets, blazers and bow ties, and even harem pants. Theatrical stunts such as riding bikes on the the pitch and drinking champagne at half-time earned the team the nickname “Le Showbizz”.
However, it was the pink bow tie – inspired by Racing’s mascot, the Pink Panther – that became the club’s signature. And, at the first Rugby World Cup final in 1987, when Mesnel and the French team faced the All Blacks at the New Zealand national team’s Eden Park Stadium in Auckland, he had a pink bow tie in his pocket.
Today, Eden Park has grown into a men’s and women’s wear brand that produces a wide range of clothing, from T-shirts to shirts, blouses, trousers, jumpers, jackets and dresses, as well as the rugby shirts that inspired its launch.
Its mainline “Sport” collection of rugby and men’s wardrobe classics aimed at 35-to-65-year-olds was joined three years ago by the more fashion-led “Club” line.
The brand now has 600 points of sale in 19 markets, stretching from Taiwan to Tunisia, and Martinique to Madagascar. It has 30 UK stockists and plans to increase its brand awareness here by launching a flagship store in London. It is also eyeing the US market.
“I find it’s easier for us to find our way outside of France,” Mesnel tells Drapers, as he relaxes into an armchair at the Double H Agency offices in Islington, north London, where Eden Park has its showroom. “The people don’t see us as a rugby brand – they see us more like a Parisian brand inspired by rugby. That is exactly what I want.
“You have to tell a story. There are too many brands who had to invent their marketing. We are lucky to have something unusual and the pink bow tie story allows us to explain Eden Park’s French flair.”
"People don’t see us as a rugby brand –
they see us more like a Parisian brand
inspired by rugby"
And there are other many other rugby nationals now sporting this “French flair”: Eden Park is the official formalwear brand for England – since 2010 – Wales, Ireland, Italy and, of course, France.
Marc Querol, brand manager at Double H Agency, says: “Stockists find many things attractive about Eden Park. First, it’s the details and quality of each style: they represent the brand’s signature, as well show the premium range of the brand.
There is a story behind the brand and it’s not some faceless person at the top. Franck is a nice man and very approachable.