The year of fashion succession is here – SURFACE


With the changing of executives at LVMH and Prada Group, the recent changing of the guard in fashion can be seen as a survival mechanism while the recession looms.


January 12, 2023

Raf Simons. Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Raf Simons shocked the industry when he announced in late November that he plans to close his namesake label after 27 years. The Belgian designer, who launched his label in 1995 before enjoying stints at Jil Sander, Dior and Calvin Klein, has emerged as a vitalizing force in menswear, consistently creating youth-focused collections by distilling underground influences into minimalist silhouettes , which have achieved cult status. Some speculated that Simons made the move in anticipation of taking creative control of Italian stalwart Prada, who named him co-creative director alongside Miuccia Prada in early 2020. But despite stepping down as chief executive of the Prada Group in December, the longtime designer insists she is not retiring. anytime soon.

The surprise move capped a dynamic year of musical chairs for the industry, which continues to face a whirlwind of departures and appointments. Alessandro Michele has left Gucci after eight years. Riccardo Tisci left Burberry after less than a year and was replaced by Daniel Lee, whose last stint at Bottega Veneta included deleting social media and launching an online magazine. Marco Gobbetti, CEO of Salvatore Ferragamo, has announced a major rebrand and appointed Maximilian Davis as Creative Director. (The 27-year-old dropped out of the LVMH Prize for Young Designers to take the job.) On the acquisitions front, Tom Ford sold his Estée Lauder brand for $2.8 billion, the luxury industry’s biggest deal of the year. Management transitions at Chanel, McQueen and Versace also made waves.

Alessandro Michele. Photo by Valentino Sommariva, courtesy of Gucci

According to a recent study, half of the creative directors at about 40 houses had held their roles for five years or less. “Compared to other product-based industries such as automobiles or furniture, there is almost such a fad in fashion. And when you change the art director, you usually change the whole team,” said Marco Pecorari, assistant professor of fashion studies at Parsons Paris. WWD, liken cycle shifts to “brief interventions” rather than profound change. Applying the new creative director’s sensibilities to ready-to-wear, leather goods, accessories and perfume is almost impossible in the short term, but brands also face pressure to run faster thanks to social media.

Benjamin Simmenauer, a professor at the Institut Français de la Mode in Paris, says money talks the most. “After the first contract, if the goals are not met and especially if there is not significant growth, the creative team is usually replaced,” he said, adding that brands view long-term collaboration more favorably. “[Brands] look for consistency and they seem increasingly risk averse as they try to reach a larger audience.”

Pietro Beccari, Michael Burke and Delphine Arnault. Photo by Jean-François Robert and Brigitte Lacombe

However, the shakeup with the greatest potential to affect the industry comes from none other than LVMH. The French luxury conglomerate recently appointed new CEOs of its two biggest houses in one of the biggest management changes for the group in recent memory. Pietro Beccari, CEO of Christian Dior Couture, will replace Michael Burke as CEO of Louis Vuitton. Taking over Baccari’s reins at Dior is Surface cover star Delphine Arnault – the eldest child of LVMH CEO Bernard – who is currently Louis Vuitton’s EVP of Product and directs the closely watched LVMH Prize. With the appointment of Bernard’s son Antoine as CEO of the financial holding company through which the family owns a controlling stake in LVMH, each of his children holds a major role in the group.

I won’t leave the charges, why now? The recession is coming, and brands that have struggled with the pandemic’s e-commerce boom are scrambling to get the right person in charge. (It’s not just fashion—nearly 700 U.S. CEOs left their posts in the first half of 2022.) Executives who steered brands through pandemic upheaval may not be as well equipped to deal with today’s delicate atmosphere of snarled supply chains and records. inflation, although both have a downward trend. Entrepreneurs are facing murky waters as investors have shifted priorities to prospects with better margins, which is difficult to achieve as the digital landscape evolves. Fresh blood may be needed to prevent brands from suffering the same fate as Sies Marjan and Zac Posen, who closed their brands in turbulent financial markets.

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