How Coperni Bagged Superstar Maisie Williams for Its First Collaboration

Key Takeaways: 

  • Since relaunching three years ago, the Parisian womenswear label Coperni has become popular among Chinese Gen Zers and Millennials and is already stocked in 20 to 30 stores in China.
  • The brand’s first-ever collaboration is a Swipe bag capsule with mega-KOL and Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams, who currently holds 10.3 million followers on Instagram.
  • Jing Collabs & Drops interviewed the brand’s co-founder and CEO, Arnaud Vaillant, about the brand’s collaboration strategy, its movement in China, and working with Williams.

You know a brand has achieved global fame when it has invented a cult handbag: Fendi has the Baguette, Jacquemus has Le Chiquito, Dior has the Saddle, and 2021 has seen Coperni establish the Swipe. Despite launching just three years ago, the emerging Parisian womenswear label, helmed by CEO Arnaud Vaillant and Creative Director Sébastien Meyer, already has a famed signature. Search for the hashtag #Coperni on Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book) or Instagram, and you will see thousands of Gen Zers and Millennials styling the Swipe around the world.

Chinese influencers style the Swipe on Xiaohongshu. Photo: Screenshots, Xiaohongshu

It is only natural that the brand’s first-ever collaboration is all about that bag, with co-founders Vaillant and Meyer inviting globally-renowned actress Maisie Williams to design four Swipes that hit stores worldwide earlier this week, on November 22.

The bags emanate the brand’s progressive and high-tech DNA, made from vegan leather cut from apples, and incorporating QR codes to transparently provide buyers with a behind-the-scenes view of how the company manufactures them.

There is a sense of refreshing futurism to Coperni, with the brand even titling its Spring/Summer 2022 Collection: Spring Summer 2033. The runway was showcased in a setting of 70,000 hemp stems (hinting at the company’s sustainability initiatives) and was a parade of vibrant prints, geometric shapes, and risqué cuts inspired by the power of nature.

The designers’ focus on sustainability, along with their interest in technology — Coperni’s latest Origami bag was even inspired by the iPhone photos app icon — makes the label an ideal fit for the young generation. A capsule with Gen-Z icon Williams perfectly encapsulates that energy.

Jing Daily spoke with Coperni’s CEO Vaillant, about the label’s first-ever collaboration, its approach to co-branding, and its evolution in China.

Jing Daily: How would you describe Coperni to new consumers?

Arnaud Vaillant: There is a word that I like to use, which is techno-chic. The main inspirations around the brand, the shoes, and the accessories are technologies and digital innovations, sustainability, and futuristic stuff. So, there is a techno-vibe on one side, and then there is the chic side, as we are based in Paris, we are a French brand, and we always use a lot of tailoring.

The aesthetic of the brand is pretty, cool, and modern. [It’s] a day-to-day wardrobe. You don’t look like you are in a costume when wearing Coperni — you can go to work then go directly to a party. It used to be more minimal, but it has become a bit more desirable recently. But it always fits into the idea of techno-chic.

What is your current strategy in China?

We launched in China during our second season, so we have been there for maybe two years, and it has become one of our peak markets. For the last pre-collection, it was actually our number one market. We are sold in many beautiful stores in China, such as Lane Crawford, SKP, and LMDS in Shanghai. We have maybe 20-30 stockists there and also Net-a-Porter, of course.

Now we are developing the communications part of the brand in China, so we have been working with an agency for a few months, which is very exciting. We have created accounts on WeChat and Weibo and spent some time on Little Red Book, which I love. There are so many people wearing Coperni in China! It has made me so happy. I was very surprised.

Which categories perform well in the APAC region?

In the beginning, people were buying accessories more. The bags are popular at Coperni, especially the Swipe bag, which is our iconic shape. But now, I have to say the ready-to-wear is performing very well. Overall, it seems in China and Europe they are wearing the same pieces everywhere. It is actually very similar.

Recommended ReadingHow To Build An ‘IT’ bag in China With Mr. BagsBy Ruonan Zheng

How did your new collaboration with Maisie Williams come about?

It was very organic. Maisie came to our Spring/Summer 2021 show a year ago. We met there, and we admired her. She came to the studio, and we dressed her for the show, etc. We thought it would be nice to do something together, and Maisie’s very engaged in social and ecological causes, so we came up with the idea of doing the Swipe bag but with apple leather. As it says on our Instagram post: “The bags are produced by using fibers derived as residuals from apple waste and are naturally dried, free of chemicals.

We chose the styles together and added the strap to our Swipe bag, which is much more practical. And you know, when you buy apples, they have a little sticker on them sometimes. Well, we thought it would be fun to do some stickers for the collaboration. So when you buy the bag, we have five pins included, which you can put where you want. It’s pretty playful.

The official Maisie Williams x Coperni campaign imagery. Photo: Courtesy of Coperni

What was the appeal of working with Williams?

First of all, we are fans of Game of Thrones. That’s where we discovered her, and she is a really incredible actress. She is basically the hero of the series, and now she’s doing the Sex Pistols’ show that should launch at the beginning of next year, I think. In the beginning, she inspired us as an actress, but then we discovered that she is so inspiring.

Maisie’s an actress, film producer, filmmaker, and environmentalist. She has many different companies, built the first streaming platform for sustainable videos and a podcast for movies. She also supports many causes. She’s a global ambassador for WWF and is always speaking at COP26. It is crazy that she is still at such a young age. She’s so inspiring.

How involved was Williams in the design process?

We did everything together. We have done many Zooms and chose the fabrics, the pins, and the colors together. It was always meetings between the three of us where Maisie was choosing everything with us and giving ideas. She was really involved.

What do you think Williams brings to your brand?

I think she is a voice of a new generation, and I feel that she’s bringing not only a community but also strong values to the brand with a sustainable approach. Maisie seems very free, very independent, she carefully selects who she works with. We’re very proud. We think she’s bringing a lot to the Coperni brand.

The bags are designed with a removable crossbody strap and come with five customizable pins inspired by fruit labels. Photo: Courtesy of Coperni

Are KOL partnerships an important part of your brand strategy?

Our official KOLs are mainly in Europe and America, for now. We are developing it slightly in China. We are working with more people these days, and it is super important. We don’t have the exact names [of KOLS in China] confirmed yet. We are doing a few other collaborations, though. We have one coming out with Alan Crocetti and a famous sunglasses brand. I cannot say the name, but it is a well-known Asian company.

Why did you finally decide to release a collaboration?

When we launched Coperni three years ago, we wanted to take the time to establish the foundation of the brand — the ready-to-wear, accessories, etc. So we were waiting for the right moment to collaborate. We are growing super fast and are only in the third year, but we enjoy developing more stuff. But we needed to wait for the right time to do it.

Many people are proposing collaborations with us who we refused because we have to focus on what is best for the brand. Now, we have Maisie, and we have sunglasses on the way. It is all very exciting because we have learned that collaborating is great. After all, you are sharing so many different skills with so many inspiring people. After that, you become richer — not in terms of money but learning.

It is a good time for Coperni. We are now at 150 stores worldwide, which is amazing.

For more analysis on the latest collaborations, sign up for the Collabs and Drops newsletter here.


Collabs and Drops, Fashion, Global, Marketing