French fashion label Kaporal has filed for judicial receivership due to “unprecedented economic difficulties,” as reported by the brand. The company, headquartered in Marseille, specializes in ready-to-wear clothing for men, women, and children. On Monday, the brand notified its 534 employees of the filing, and a hearing has been scheduled for this week to discuss the case. A court ruling is expected to follow shortly.

Kaporal was established in Marseille in 2004 by Laurent Emsellem and his family, who have expertise in the denim sector. Over the years, the brand has gained recognition for its high-quality jeans. In 2013, it was acquired by investment fund TowerBrook Capital Partners, based in London and New York. Currently, Kaporal operates 113 stores in France, including outlet stores, and a few locations in Belgium. Its products are also sold in several hundred multibrand retailers.

In 2022, Kaporal generated €99 million in revenue, with online sales accounting for 20% of the total. Prior to the pandemic, the brand’s revenue was close to €120 million. The management of Kaporal attributes its current financial difficulties to various factors, including the yellow-vest protests, multiple waves of strikes, the pandemic, rising inflation, and increased costs of energy, raw materials, rent, and transportation. The recent invasion of Ukraine has only added to these challenges.

Despite implementing cost-cutting measures to preserve cash flow, Kaporal has now stated that it is unable to meet its debt payments. The brand’s management and owners have been actively seeking new financial partners to support its future plans, but these efforts have been unsuccessful. Consequently, Kaporal has been forced to initiate the judicial receivership procedure. The brand aims to take a proactive rather than reactive approach in addressing its financial situation.

Under the leadership of Laurence Paganini in the past decade, Kaporal has undergone a transformation in its brand image and retail strategy. The brand has incorporated a feminine touch into its collections and unveiled a refreshed visual identity in 2021, reflecting its rock and military-inspired origins. This was intended to target consumers aged 35 to 40 and showcase Kaporal’s commitment to corporate social responsibility. The brand’s management and majority shareholder, a B Corp-certified firm, fully supported this policy.

Jeans constitute more than one-third of Kaporal’s product range. The brand manufactures its merchandise in the Mediterranean basin area, including Turkey, Tunisia, and France, along with some production in Asia. In January, Kaporal expanded its upcycling-themed collaborations by partnering with Portuguese designer Luis Carvalho.

Kaporal now joins the list of fashion brands in the Marseille region that have sought the protection of the trade court. San Marina, a footwear brand based in Aubagne, has already gone into liquidation. These challenges shed light on the tough times currently faced by the fashion industry, particularly brands from Marseille.

Useful Links:
Kaporal Official Website
The Business of Fashion