A new flag was raised at the Sofitel Hotel yesterday while a very fashionable crowd was getting inside. No, Montreal didn’t welcome a new ambassador, but something more interesting—in my opinion: The launch of the notorious Eden Park, historical French brand born from a rugby field. ” They are very loved and popular in Europe. I am happy they are finally introducing the brand here, they will have a huge success.” Explained to me a French colleague while I was preparing myself to go to the Sofitel. Later that night, not only I discovered how great the concept is but I also found out about their hilarious history.
Back in the late 80s, five friends were professional rugby players for le Racing Club de France. Far from being ordinary, they distinguished themselves through their facetious side on their most important games. Among their most popular farces were playing with a beret Basque, making an entry on a bicycle in the field or even funnier, play with black stained skin. There is also this pink bow, which is now the emblem of the brand. Yesterday, I had the chance to meet the president of the brand, Mr. Franck Mesnel, to whom I asked some few questions about Eden Park.
How did you shift from the rugby game in the stadium to rugby wear in podiums ? What’s the story of Eden Park?
Mr. Franck Mesnel : Rugby and fashion didn’t have any legitimate connection but for us, the link was clear. When we started to play for the racing club de France, I have to admit we were not the best players out there but we were certainly the most creative and facetious. We used to surprise the public and our opponents very often. However, our sense of humour was attached to a certain refinement and very quickly we had the reputation of the gentlemen who play a bully sport. I have to admit it was quite a paradox but in the same time it was complementary. When we decided to launch the clothing line Eden Park, it just made sense. It represented and still represents, who we are. From the beginning, the brand was effortlessly publicized. People were curious to understand how we shifted from sport to ready-to-wear. Everything was so spontaneous and harmonious, from the logo – which is very symbolic of who we are, to the cuts…
Talking about the pink bow, what does it represent exactly? I saw you wearing it on some pictures, but what’s the story behind it ?
Mr. Franck Mesnel : It represents everything – All the funny things we did; our refinement; the color of our Mascot who was the pink panther… It’s a small touch of fantaisie we integrated in a rigorous sport. It added a je ne sais quoi to the brand. This is also what we wore in 1990, when we won the championship. When we launched the brand, the bow was already famous. Making it the logo just made sense.
since 1988, how did Eden Park evoluate ?
Mr. Franck Mesnel : Eden Park is the first rugby wear brand, and it was characterized by the chic, the haut de gamme and the sport from the beginning,. The rugby jersey remains the main inspiration of Eden Park. In 1988, we were the first who actually developed it in a way where we democratize it. Then, you also have the blue marine Blazer which is what players used to wear after the game. What constantly evoluates with Eden Park is refinement. The brand stays true itself, to our values. However, the pink bow is less obvious than before. it’s more discreet now, we rather suggest it than exhibit it.
Tell me about the feminine line?
Mr. Franck Mesnel : It’s among the biggest project I am working on now. We already have a line for women but we want to develop it further more. I am working with feminine competences, they are very good. It’s going to be huge!
Eden Park is growing bigger and bigger, we can find it in many countries. How do you feel about the launching here in Montreal ?
Mr. Franck Mesnel : You have no idea how happy I am. I am happy to be on a city where everybody speaks french and everyone is smiling. It’s different from Europe. Montreal has such a positive energy, a very inspiring Joie de vivre. The decision to launch Eden Park here was very legitimate and we are so happy to finally get here.
Who is the Eden Park man?
Mr. Franck Mesnel : The Eden Park man is synthesis of every man in the world. He is very rigorous and works very hard. He may seem very serious. But he is waiting for these five minutes in his day to get up on a table and shout : ”Carpe Diem”. He is very civilized, well-educated ad has a great knowledge. He is also very Haut-de-Gamme and aesthetic. He loves noble fabrics and clean line
Mr. Franck Mesnel : If anything, I think it’s the young entrepreneurs who can give advice to the french people. Since I have been here, I was very pleased to see how motivated they are, they work very hard. Rigorous work is a value in the business world.
However, I can share with you an advice that was given when I was a student and that helped me a lot : wake up very early in the morning to work – I would suggest from 5:00 am to 12:00 pm. Not only you will be productive, but you will gain the rest of your day to do other things instead of waking up late and spend the whole day trying to work or study. It works!