French Connection (clothing)

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French Connection
Type Public company
Traded as LSEFCCN
Industry Clothing
Founded 1972 [1]
Headquarters London, UK
Key people Stephen Marks, Chairman & CEO
Adam Castleton, Finance Director
Neil Williams, Operations Director
Products Clothing, accessories, fragrances, toiletries, glasses, etc.
Revenue £213.8 million GBP (2011)
Employees 2,834 (2011)
Website www.frenchconnection.com

French Connection (also branded as FCUK) is a UK-based global retailer and wholesaler of fashion clothing, accessories and homeware. Founded in 1972 by Chief Executive Stephen Marks it is based in London and its parent company, French Connection Group plc, is listed on the London Stock Exchange.[2]

French Connection

French Connection distributes its clothing and accessories through its own stores in the UK, US and Canada and through franchise and wholesale arrangements globally. The company is famous for the use of the "fcuk" acronym in its advertising campaigns in the early 2000s which successfully raised its profile.

Distribution[edit]

French Connection distributes its branded ladieswear and menswear through a network of owned stores in the UK, US and Canada, through franchised stores in major markets around the world (Australia, Hong Kong, China, India), through concessions in department stores in the UK and also through other multi-brand retailers. The product assortment competes in the low to mid range of fashion and price. French Connection also has a variety of licensed products,[3] including eye glasses, sunglasses, toiletries, shoes, jewellery and watches, which are sold through their own stores and specialist retailers (e.g. Boots and SpecSavers).

Controversial branding[edit]

French Connection (FCUK)[edit]

French Connection store in Covent Garden, London

Having been successful in the fashion business since the early 1970s, in 1997,[4] French Connection began using the branding "fcuk" (usually written in lowercase) in advertising. Reportedly, the first use of the acronym was on faxes sent between their Hong Kong and London offices, headed "FCHK to FCUK".[5] Although purportedly an acronym for French Connection United Kingdom, its similarity to the word "fuck" caused controversy.[4]

French Connection exploited the controversy of the branding, producing an extremely popular range of t-shirts with messages such as "fcuk fashion", "hot as fcuk", "too busy to fcuk", "fcuk safely" etc. There were also a number of regionally specific messages, such as "fondle constantly until knackered" (in the UK), "fcukin hell" and "no fcukin worries" (in Australia).

The success of the branding in raising French Connection's profile also caused others to use similar tactics. French Connection launched a trademark infringement case in the London High Court challenging the owner of "First Consultants UK Ltd", a computer company, over its use of the "fcuk" acronym. It was proven in the case the Internet Domain fcuk.com was registered prior to French Connection applying for the UK Trademark and its claim for passing off was dismissed. Mr Justice Rattee refused to grant an injunction, describing French Connection's use of the acronym as "a tasteless and obnoxious campaign."[6][7]

A French Connection store in Toronto, Canada

The company also threatened legal action against the political youth organisation Conservative Future, which had briefly adopted the spoof abbreviation "cfuk" (short for "Conservative Future UK").[8]

Another judge reportedly expelled a potential juror from his courtroom for wearing one of the "fcuk" range of T-shirts, saying that the "mis-spelt Anglo Saxon word" was a distraction and did not dignify the court proceedings.[9]

Following a number of complaints about advertising campaigns using the acronym, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority requested that the company submit all poster campaigns for approval before running them.[4]

The "fcuk" brand has also been controversial in the United States. The American Family Association urged a boycott of fcuk products [10] and Bloomingdales removed "fcuk" branded products from their shops.

The effect of the controversial logo eventually wore off and French Connection stopped using the acronym in advertising in 2005 and reduced its profile in its shops. However it is still used on certain menswear products and in-store branding. Despite this lowering of the profile, French Connection remains known as "fcuk", particularly by the UK press.

Products[edit]

Fragrances for Her[edit]

  • Eau de FCUK No. 1 (2001) – Part of a whole FCUK range for women, that includes three fragrances. These are not produced by Zirh, but the UK company, Boots, under a separate licence. The range is in production to date.
  • Eau de FCUK No. 2 (2001) – Part of a whole FCUK range for women, that includes three fragrances.
  • Eau de FCUK No. 3 (2001) – Part of a whole FCUK range for women, that includes three fragrances.
  • FCUK Her (2003) – The first French Connection fragrance by Zirh/Shiseido. Partnered with the feminine, FCUK Him and advertised with the slogan "Scent to bed". FCUK Her continues to be in production. Perfumer: James Krivda. Top notes of bergamot, muguet and water iris, middle notes of barrigtonia flower, jasmine, peony and violet and bottom notes of golden amber musk, sandalwood and cedarwood.
  • FCUK Connect Her (2007) – The perfume contains top notes of bergamot, muguet and water iris, middle notes of barrigtonia flower, jasmine, peony and violet and bottom notes of golden amber musk, sandalwood and cedarwood. Recommended for anytime wear.
  • FCUK 3 (2010) – French connection introduced fcuk 3 in 2010. The perfume is filled a luscious blend of fruity and floral fragrances for women. The versatility of this perfume makes it suitable for a variety of occasions. The energetic accords of sweet, fruity and vanilla give way to milder accords of soft spicy and woody for a refreshing effect. The fragrance first releases top notes of red berries, mandarin, and pink pepper. These notes reveal the heart of the fragrance made of jasmine, gardenia, and rose. The amber, blonde woods and vanilla base elegantly balances the rest of the notes.
  • FCUK Summer Her (2011) – Top notes are Red apple and Mango, middle totes are Freesia, Magnolia and Mimosa, and base notes are Musk, Patchouli and Amber.
  • FCUK Friction Her (2012) – Notes: Fruity notes, Floral notes, Coconut, Vanilla.[11]

Fragrances for Him[edit]

  • Eau de FCUK No. 1 for Men (2000) – Part of a whole FCUK grooming range for men, that includes hair styling products, shower gels, deodorants and shaving products. There are three fragrances to complement the range. Eau de FCUK No 1 is a citrus scent, Eau de FCUK No 2 is a fresh scent, Eau de FCUK No 3 is a woody scent with hints of blackcurrant. These are not produced by Zirh, but the UK company, Boots, under a separate licence. The range is currently in production.
  • Eau de FCUK No. 2 for Men (2000)
  • Eau de FCUK No. 3 for Men (2000)
  • FCUK Him (2003) – This fragrance was created by perfumer James Krivda, launched in 2003 and it continues being in production. The top notes are basil, lavender, rosemary, sangria. The middle notes are hemp, sage, tea leaves, green peppercorns and the base notes co2, vanilla, ebony wood, patchouli, black suede.
  • FCUK Connect Him (2007) – Described as an edgy and seductive men's fragrance, the top notes of this fragrance include: rosemary, sangria, lavender and basil. Middle notes include, sage, green peppercorn and tea leaves. Base notes include; vanilla, ebony wood, black suede and patchouli. The fragrance is currently in Production.
  • FCUK 1972 (2008) – In Production.
  • FCUK Copper (2008) – In Production.
  • FCUK Urban (2008) – In Production.
  • FCUK 3
  • FCUK Late Night
  • FCUK Summer Him (2011) – Launched in 2011, the fragrance continues to be in production. Top notes are Bergamot, Sea water accord, Nutmeg, Middle Notes are Lavender, Papyrus, Sage, Seaweed and base notes are Ambergris, Musk, Teak wood. FCUK Summer Him is continues being in production.
  • FCUK Friction Him (2012) – Launched in 2012, the fragrance notes include Citrus, Amber and Musk.[11]

Unisex Fragrances[edit]

  • Eau de FCUK (1999) – Created by perfumer Geza Schoen, this perfume was billed as Unisex. The perfume is currently discontinued.
  • French Connection Bathroom (1998) – Discontinued.

References[edit]

  1. ^ French Connection Investor Relations – Fashion is our business
  2. ^ French Connection Investor Relations – Fashion is our business
  3. ^ "Licensed Products", French Connection, Retrieved on June 21, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Time called on FCUK posters, BBC News, 2001-04-04. Retrieved on 2007-07-15
  5. ^ "French letters made safer by CAP". OUT-LAW, Pinsent Masons. 2004-07-13. 
  6. ^ Robert Verkaik (4 December 1999). "The case of FCUK v FCUK sent to High Court". The Independent. 
  7. ^ Judge's fury at four-letter ads, BBC News, 1999-12-03. Retrieved on 2007-07-15
  8. ^ Young Tories threatened over logo, BBC News, 1999-09-15. Retrieved on 2007-07-15
  9. ^ Judge bars four-letter word T-shirt, BBC News, 2003-03-11. Retrieved on 2007-07-15
  10. ^ Companies target teens with "Scent to Bed" ad campaign, American Family Association. Retrieved on 2007-07-15
  11. ^ a b Basenotes.net French Connection Retrieved on 2012-10-09

External links[edit]