Fashion & Luxury

The demands of international luxury goods consumers are changing fast and becoming more sophisticated in terms of intrinsic product content, branding, communication, distribution channels, customer and shopper experience. International players in this sector need to have a solid management team and creative talents that can understand their distinctive brand values and the currently evolving market and that can therefore steer the company towards a new business model capable of leveraging the opportunities offered by technology and digital/social media.
With over 200 successful international projects completed in this sector in the past 5 years, Value Search presents itself as a competent, credible and reliable partner to business owners and companies.



Press Review

Giovanna Brambilla, a partner at Milan-based executive search firm Value Search, said her advice is to go digital across the board. The business model will have to change. Managers need to readapt to this, she said.

Fashion is a jewel in the crown for Italy. Fashion companies have emerged as donors, noted Brambilla, and the community< of managers is appreciating this contribution in a situation of difficulty. Managers outside the sector have been impressed.

Our Giovanna Brambilla‘s insights on executive recruiting in Coronavirus times, in an interview to WWD. Read the article

Prada shares opened up 3.5 percent on Monday in Hong Kong, but dropped 2.98 percent at the end of trading as stock markets fell globally as new coronavirus cases hit Italy and South Korea.

With a view from our Giovanna Brambilla. Read the article

The decision of Kering group, world leader in the Haute Couture industry, at the head of companies like Gucci, YSL and Balenciaga, to accept a fiscal conciliation with the Revenue Agency for a record amount of 1.25 billion euros caused a sensation in the Fashion industry. It follows the opening of the dossier accusing the group of tax evasion for over 14 billions.

In this WWD article we go through the analysis of this resounding transaction by our Giovanna Brambilla and other authoritative sector commentators.

Read article

WWD – 21 novembre 2017 –


The speculation about a potential Valentino IPO continues as Sebastian Suhl joins the company as managing director of global markets, effective in January.

MILAN — Is Valentino setting the foundations for the much-anticipated initial public offering?
Sebastian Suhl is joining Valentino SpA as the new managing director of global markets, starting in January and reporting to chief executive officer Stefano Sassi. Suhl has the remit to support the Rome-based company’s ongoing expansion globally — but could his arrival signal Sassi’s increased focus on an IPO? In March, the ceo said an IPO was “not on the table” in 2017, and “we’ll see what happens in 2018. We’ve shelved it because of market conditions. If things change, we’ll review [the project]. We are not talking about it internally at the moment.”
Sources in Milan now say Valentino could be looking at the second half of 2018 for a listing.
“I would not be surprised to see the IPO in the second half of 2018 although we don’t have visibility on the timing and, as usual, the IPO would depend on market conditions, whether a certain window is favorable or not,” said Daniele Alibrandi, European equity research — luxury goods at Intermonte
SIM. “In the first half of 2018, luxury companies will annualize really very good half-year figures for 2017, but there are no specific reasons why the overall trend should worsen — a trend that in these months is in line with the positive third quarter of 2017.”
Alibrandi said he did not see any stumbling block for Valentino’s listing, “except perhaps a potential interest from a French group that has not made acquisitions, but is overperforming in the sector: Kering, once it has sold Puma, as it has already said publicly in the first half of 2018, will have to reinvest. I don’t think it’s looking at problematic companies to restructure since it is busy with Bottega Veneta and expanding its small and medium-sized brands. So Valentino, from my point of view as an observer without knowledge of the facts, remains valid.”
“Suhl will be a breather for Sassi on the daily management,” said Armando Branchini, deputy chairman of Milan-based InterCorporate. “Suhl has a positive track record. This is a good move. I was expecting it because there was a need to strengthen the team following the exit of Massimo Piombini.” Suhl effectively succeeds Piombini, previously worldwide commercial director of Valentino, who left to helm Balmain in April 2017 and is understood to be much respected by Sassi.
“You need a strong team for an IPO and the company needs to continue to grow ahead of that moment, and Sassi can focus on the more strategic aspects leading to the listing,” added Branchini.

“The idea of an IPO makes complete sense. Sassi has done a great job and it is reasonable for shareholders to want to reap the rewards,” said Luca Solca, head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas.
In its latest Pambianco Strategie di Imprese study on companies that have the most potential to publicly list, Valentino last year jumped up to the second position after Giorgio Armani from its previous seventh spot. Carlo Pambianco, president of the Italian fashion consultancy, presenting the 11th ranking of the
“listable” 65 fashion, luxury goods and design companies last year, explained that “the aim of the research is to identify those companies with the prerequisites to launch an IPO in the next three to five years, regardless of whether a listing is even in the plans of the firm.”
To be sure, no firm date had been forecast, as Valentino, which last year reached the threshold of $1 billion in sales, is in no hurry. The company is controlled by Qatar-based Mayhoola Group, which invested in Valentino in 2012. However, one analyst wondered if the blockade against Qatar by other Gulf nations led by Saudi Arabia may be impacting the group’s investments in luxury, seeing a Valentino IPO as a means to focus on the country’s other businesses.
In March 2016, Sassi insisted Mayhoola “has [Valentino] and wants to keep it, with ambitious plans to do even more,” alluding to the expansion of the fund’s fashion and luxury stable with the acquisition of Balmain last year. Mayhoola also controls Pal Zileri and is a minority shareholder in Anya Hindmarch. Sassi is said to be involved in the decision-making on several fronts, spurring rumors that he could also be promoted to a position of overview across all brands under Mayhoola. One analyst, though, was skeptical about any change within the group ahead of a possible IPO. “Why change things ahead of an IPO, especially in light of the fact that the ceo did such a good job? It’s not a good option if they want to propose a strong equity story.”
Suhl was previously ceo of Marc Jacobs International, whose parent company is LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. He left the New York-based fashion house in the summer after a three-year stint, charged with, among other things, readying the house for an IPO. Suhl spearheaded the elimination of the Marc by Marc Jacobs label launched in 2000 and consolidated the signature brand, focusing on accessories and tightening the brand’s vertical retail footprint.
Suhl arrived at Marc Jacobs in 2014 from Givenchy, and was seen as a rising star among LVMH’s senior executive ranks. It was a moment of profound change for the brand as Jacobs had just wrapped up his 16-year stint at Louis Vuitton to focus solely on his namesake label, which remains in a challenging phase.
Suhl had joined Givenchy in 2012 after an 11-year career
at Prada Group, and saw the Milan-based company go through a lengthy process to publicly list. Prada eventually launched its IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2011. At Prada,
Suhl was promoted to ceo of the Asia-Pacific region in 2005 and named group chief operating officer in 2009, reporting to ceo Patrizio Bertelli, and heading the retail, wholesale, e-commerce and marketing departments for the Prada, Miu Miu and Car Shoe brands.
Giovanna Brambilla, partner at Milan-based executive search firm Value Search, said Suhl “is an executive of great experience, whose knowledge of the Asian market will be an added value. He knows not only the markets, but also the consumers in that region.” According to the Altagamma Worldwide Market Monitor 2017 and a study by Bain & Co. presented in Milan in October, local spending by increasingly fashion-savvy Chinese customers has boosted sales in China by 15 percent to a market size of 20 billion euros and buying abroad has also increased, with the share of global personal luxury purchases by Chinese nationals reaching 32 percent in 2017. For 2018, this sector is also expected to grow at an average 5 percent clip, lifted by newfound confidence among local European, Asian and American consumers, as well as by traveling Chinese shoppers. Brambilla also noted that Suhl could help Sassi following Piombini’s exit.
Born in New York, Suhl holds an MBA from the Barcelona business school Esade, and joined Prada in 2001 as general manager of France, following stints at Deloitte & Touche and the fashion houses Courrèges and Thimister.

Suhl said it was “a great honor” to join Valentino. “I look forward to partnering with Stefano, Pierpaolo [Piccioli, creative director] and the teams on the further development of this extraordinary house — I have admired it for quite some time,” he said.

Luisa Zargani



Corriere della Sera – 16 settembre 2016 –


Analisi di Value Search sui continui avvicendamenti di capi operativi e designer. Negli ultimi tre anni più di un gruppo su due ha un Ceo diverso (negli States 7 su 10). Ultimo caso Calvin Klein

Negli ultimi tre anni la metà delle più importanti società della moda e del lusso ha cambiato stilista e/o capo azienda. Che fosse in atto un rinnovamento, era evidente dai continui comunicati che si sono succeduti. Ma vedere messi in fila uno dopo l’altro i nomi e «tirare le somme» fa un certo effetto.

«Si tratta di un tasso di avvicendamento molto più elevato rispetto ai periodi precedenti », dice infatti Giovanna Brambilla, amministratrice delegata di Value Search, società di executive search con focus nel lusso che ha realizzato l’indagine per Corriere Economia. Non ci sono solo i numeri su cui riflettere. Ma anche il fatto che i mutamenti hanno colpito aziende con casa madre in tutte le aree del mondo che esprimono marchi globali e importanti: aziende italiane, francesi, inglesi e soprattutto americane. Tutto questo è il segno tangibile del grande «scompiglio» che sta caratterizzando il mercato del lusso e della difficoltà di individuare le strategie più adeguate per far fronte a un mercato mondiale e a un consumatore in rapida e profonda trasformazione.

L’analisi è stata realizzata su 50 tra i principali gruppi e società del lusso/moda e si nota che i cambiamenti sono solo marginalmente conseguenza di un cambiamento di proprietà (come nel caso di Corneliani il cui controllo di maggioranza è passato dalla famiglia fondatrice al fondo arabo Investcorp), segnalando quindi una questione strutturale.

Raf Simons, il designer che aveva lasciato (a sorpresa) Dior un anno fa, all’inizio di agosto è diventato direttore creativo di Calvin Klein. Nella nuova veste supervisionerà tutti gli aspetti del design, del marketing a livello globale, della comunicazione e dei servizi dedicati alla creatività visiva del marchio americano, all’insegna della strategia annunciata quest’anno di dare un’unica visione a tutte le linee che fanno capo al brand. Allo stesso tempo, dopo un anno in cui il posto è rimasto vacante, in Dior è arrivata l’italiana Maria Grazia Chiuri che, insieme a Pierpaolo Piccioli, aveva decretato il rilancio di Valentino. Nel quale Valentino è rimasto come unico designer Piccioli. Tra gli americani, negli ultimi tre anni anche Carolina Herrera, Coach e Donna Karan hanno cambiato il direttore creativo, così come hanno fatto le inglesi Dunhill, Mulberry e Paul Smith. Le francesi Balenciaga, Berluti, Hermes, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent. E le italiane (di proprietà francese) Brioni e Gucci, ma anche Zegna e Cavalli, mentre sono ancora scoperti i ruoli in Ferragamo, Hogan, Tod’s e Sergio Rossi.

«Se i creativi ci hanno abituato ad avvicendamenti rapidi, perché si tratta di profili che si nutrono di novità e di nuove sfide, quanto sta accedendo a livello di top management non è usuale e fa riflettere», dice Giovanna Brambilla. Dei 50 gruppi esaminati nell’arco di 3 anni, infatti, il 52 per cento ha un nuovo amministratore delegato (rispetto al 48 per cento di responsabili dello stile che hanno cambiato azienda). «In passato era ricorrente che un Ceo rimanesse in carica anche 10 anni – sottolinea Giovanna Brambilla. Oggi, anche agli amministratori delegati sono sottoposti a un veloce turnover». A subire i mutamenti maggiori sono state le società americane, con un tasso di ricambio del 70 per cento. Sui risultati delle aziende Usa hanno influito l’andamento del dollaro, che ha penalizzato i conti dei gruppi Usa pesando sui risultati, ma anche i cambiamenti lato consumatore che stanno mettendo in crisi, per esempio, il tradizionale modello distributivo basato sui department store. Non è solo una concomitanza di eventi negativi la causa del deteriorarsi dei risultati di molte aziende che non stanno più ottenendo le performance degli anni precedenti, con tassi di crescita doppia cifra ed Ebitda elevati. Evidentemente tutto questo sta preoccupando gli investitori, che siano privati o meno. Probabilmente, inoltre, alcune operazioni erano state concluse con delle aspettative eccessive rispetto alle potenzialità dei marchi stessi.

«La causa – dicono da Value Search – è piuttosto da ricercare da un lato nell’evoluzione rapida del consumatore, divenuto più esigente e sofisticato, che richiede a un brand del lusso contenuti intrinseci di prodotto, esclusività e vera distintività di marca, dall’altro nella profonda e radicale trasformazione dei canali distributivi che stanno rapidamente convergendo verso una logica “multichannel”. Tutto questo sta determinando l’esigenza di una revisione completa delle strategie aziendali e in numerosi casi la revisione è così radicale che si mette in discussione la capacità dei manager e dei direttori creativi di portare avanti con successo il cambiamento». Siamo quindi di fronte a «un cambio di paradigma». Sul fronte italiano si nota la differenza tra le aziende appartenenti ai grandi gruppi internazionali, in cui i cambiamenti al vertice sono stati numerosi, e le aziende a proprietà privata, dove spesso l’imprenditore è anche il gestore : in questi casi si è assistito anche a dei veri e propri ritorni in campo. Tra le società italiane sarà interessante vedere gli sviluppi del recente cambio al vertice di Ferragamo, alla cui guida è arrivato in estate Eraldo Poletto e dove è ancora vacante la posizione del direttore creativo.


Maria Silvia Sacchi


DAILY EDITION  – 28 dicembre 2017 –


Non-Competes Shaping Industry Scenarios
Fashion companies have increasingly been enforcing the contractual tool to keep designers and executives off the market.

Fashion’s revolving door of creative and executive talent continues to spin, but there is one chunky wedge that is increasingly clogging things up: the non-compete agreement.
While non-competes have been around for decades, they have recently become more and more binding. “There is more pressure and competition, and executives and design-ers are increasingly more key to success,” said Armando Branchini, deputy chairman of Milan-based consultancy InterCorporate. “I’ve always believed that designers are like soccer champions and chief executive officers are like their coaches and this is even more so now. In a sector where intellectual property and specific knowhow are so relevant, it’s important to be protective. The non-compete is a form of defense, a shield.”
Giovanna Brambilla, a partner at Milan-based executive search firm Value Search, said early on, the non-compete agreement was “a tool mainly used for the top-level figures, to prevent them from leaving because of their strategic knowledge, and in this sense it’s under-standable. The real issue is that many companies are using this tool originally created to defend the company’s know-how as a mechanism of retention today, to discourage the exit of employees at all levels and this has been widely spread throughout the organizations.”
This can become “boorish behavior, it’s just about the fear of having employees being poached,” Brambilla said.
Non-compete agreements complicate matters in the notoriously quick-change fashion industry. Companies often need a talent in a reasonable time, Brambilla said, and they may not be willing to wait around for six to 12 months until a given contract expires.
“There is usually a three- to six-month notice, and if you add a non-compete to that, which can run from another six to 12 months, who has the luxury to wait?” Brambilla said. “This also creates a limited pool of resources.”
It is also a costly tool because it means that, if a company decides to apply a non-compete, an employee will be paid upward of 80 percent of their base salary during the period they’re not allowed to work. A non-compete is generally only applied when an executive or designer makes the decision to depart, rather than if they’re let go.
Non-competes also pose the risk of demotivating employees — with compa-nies binding collaborators and “forgetting that it’s not enough to tie them down — they should be motivated, and having this Sword of Damocles hanging over them is not constructive,” Brambilla said. “This leads to employees being disgruntled for being forced to stay on and to a negative mood in the organization. It’s a vicious circle.”
Italian law allows an employee to pay to be free of the notice period, but to get out of a non-compete, direct negotiation with an employer tends to be the only way, in Italy and elsewhere.
A legal source contended non-compete agreements can become “very com-plicated” when they become “battles between brands,” but personal relations can help ease things. The source claimed Anthony Vaccarello had an exclusive contract with Versace as creative director of the Versus brand and, in order to take the helm at Yves Saint Laurent, “he had a private conversation with Donatella [Versace], who helped discover and launch him. They must have come to some sort of agreement behind closed doors.”
Recently, sources speculated that Versace was looking to bring on
designer Kim Jones, currently men’s artis-tic director at Louis Vuitton, but said his employment contract would stand in the way of any such move. (Versace has since denied Jones is heading there.) Riccardo Tisci was also said to be sitting out his non-compete with Givenchy in order to potentially join Versace, but it is under-stood the talks eventually fell through for unrelated reasons.
Now the non-compete question hangs over Burberry as president and chief creative officer Christopher Bailey is leaving next March. Speculation has swirled that Céline’s creative director and board member Phoebe Philo could be tapped to head the British heritage brand — fueled by news that Philo is leaving the French brand next month. But sources said she has no interest in immediately joining another fashion house and wants to take time off. Others have said that even if Philo did want to join the Brit-ish brand – now headed by her former Céline colleague Marco Gobbetti as ceo — it’s likely the designer has a long-term non-compete agreement she would have to wait out.
Non-competes, for years seen mainly in fields focused on engineering and pro-prietary technology, have become more prominent in beauty and fashion in the last decade or so, according to Anthony Lupo, a partner with Arent Fox LLP, whose legal practice focuses on fashion and entertainment.
“If I’m representing a business, I always recommend them — why wouldn’t you get protection for yourself?” Lupo said. “They have to be thought through and narrow, but they can be effective tools for a company.”
He explained that a non-compete can’t simply bar an employee of a fashion company from working “in fashion” for a year. An effective agreement needs to be tailored and single out specific competi-tors in a given field. Although he admit-ted these contracts are becoming more common, he said it’s still generally “only at the highest executive level.”
One source remarked that, in some cases, non-competes do specify which fashion houses are off-limits for an employee, as they may be closer to a com-pany’s aesthetics.
“When a person has knowledge of a trade secret is when it becomes import-ant,” Lupo added. “If a person merely has business strategy, most companies either won’t enforce it or they won’t have success in enforcing it, especially in New York.”
Courts are increasingly skeptical of non-competes as an anti-competitive tool that, by preventing talented workers from moving about in the employment market, has an effect on wages and even innovation. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman this year introduced state legislation to drastically curb the use of non-competes in any industry and they are already unlawful in Cali-fornia. But even though the agreements seem to be increasing in popularity, Lupo said a real fight over enforcement is rare, noting in his experience, “they always settle.”
That was the case earlier this year when a regional vice president of Macy’s sued the department store over an “unreason-able” non-compete agreement that was being used to keep her from taking an executive position with Burlington Stores. Although Macy’s initially pushed back with its own breach of contract lawsuit, the issue appears to have been settled out of court and the executive has moved on to Burlington.
Former L’Oréal executive Antonios Spiliotopoulos didn’t get off so easy when the beauty conglomerate in October took to the courts to stop him from joining Shiseido. After arguing the Japanese beauty company is a direct competitor and Spiliotopoulos has sensitive product and supply chain information, L’Oréal succeeded in halting his move, at least until his non-compete period is up at the end of this year.
Top-level executives, like ceo’s and creative directors, seem less prone to fighting or attempting to work around non-competes. Stefan Larsson is still under a non-compete period after his brief tenure as ceo of Ralph Lauren officially ended earlier this year, and the same goes for Jenna Lyons, who led the creative and design sides of J. Crew for nearly a decade.
The mere existence of a non-compete can make a big difference in job mobility, especially for lower-level executives who find themselves subject to non-competes.
“Some companies don’t want to get involved with any candidate that has a non-compete,” said Jaimee Marshall, executive vice president of executive search firm Kirk Palmer Associates. “I’d say 70 percent to 80 percent of compa-nies will just move on when they hear a candidate is working under one.”
As for the remaining 20 percent to 30 percent that are willing to consider some-one with a non-compete, Marshall said these companies often have more experi-ence with the agreements and understand that they often either go unenforced, or as seems to be the case with a number of big name creatives in the fashion world, they’re simply willing to wait out the enforcement period.
PVH Corp. took this route for Calvin Klein with the August 2016 appointment of Raf Simons as creative director of the entire brand. Simons in October 2015 stepped down from his previous role as Christian Dior’s women’s artistic director, heading up ready-to-wear, couture and accessories, but was bound to a stringent non-compete contract that sources said did not expire until the end of July 2016.
Natalie Massenet, founder and former executive vice chairman of the Net-a-porter Group, is another executive who was forced to wait out a non-compete before making her next move. When she resigned in September 2015 from Net-a-porter after it merged with Yoox Group, she did so with a yearlong non-compete contract. It wasn’t until February that Massenet joined online fashion retailer Farfetch as non-executive co-chairman.
On the other hand, there are plenty of moves that end up in court. Carolina Herrera Ltd. late last year won a tempo-rary restraining order to keep Laura Kim, who had signed a non-compete, from joining Oscar de la Renta as co-creative director before her contracted period was up. The lawsuit eventually was settled out of court and Kim was allowed to join de la Renta. The year before, Nike sued Ralph Lauren Corp. alleging that Matthew Millward, a former design executive, broke his non-compete agreement when he took a job at Lauren’s Club Monaco brand. Nike contended that Millward, who had resigned two months earlier and took a job as vice president of men’s design for Club Monaco, brought sensitive information about the company’s plans to a competitor in the ath-leisure space. Nike wasn’t successful in delaying Millward taking his new job.
Although rare, a non-compete agree-ment can also work in the favor of the employed. Hedi Slimane, for instance, in June 2016 won a 13 million euro judg-ment against Kering, stemming from the non-compete contract he signed to lead Yves Saint Laurent, which he exited abruptly in April of that year. Slimane is also said to be seeking further compensa-tion with the help of his contract, based on clauses covering compensation and his role as a minority shareholder.
Davide Dallomo, founder of Lagente, a Milan-based creative business and fashion consultancy, said a designer can sometimes accept a non-compete as more of a paid perk. “I know of one designer who was thinking of going on sabbatical, had no inclination whatsoever of going to work for another company, so the non-compete was more than welcome.”
Dallomo noted Prada as one of the first companies to enforce non-compete agree-ments, but Louis Vuitton and the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton group at large are among the strongest protec-tors of their brands. In his experience, speaking in general about fashion firms, he’s seen cases where even “juniors with a three-year experience had to sign a non-compete agreement, and this was viewed as an investment in people since creativity is intangible.”
A headhunter in Milan also cited Prada and LVMH as among the strictest compa-nies applying non-compete agreements, which she’s seen in some instances at the top level run up to 24 months. She said executives and designers at the top are more aware of the limitations of non-com-pete agreements, while juniors are more naïve.
Even with so many fights over non-competes cropping up in recent years between brands, often with creatives caught in-between, Marshall of Kirk Palmer said she rarely sees the clauses imposed on employees below the executive level of vice president or its equivalent. But she did note that the extent of the agreements can vary widely by industry.
“In the beauty industry, non-competes are really standard, whereas on the retail side, some are more extensive and used in a variety of ways — to isolate competition or just prevent movement in a category [an employee] is involved in, which are often seen as not enforceable,” Marshall explained. She added that the agreements certainly have their place among these industries, where poaching talent is fre-quent, but there should always be limits to how they’re used.
“[A non-compete] should not be used to prevent employees from going any-where,” Marshall said. “That’s like inden-tured servitude.”
At the same time, Marshall admit-ted that non-competes are often non-negotiable.
“There are companies that literally won’t hire without having one signed. I’d encourage anyone, when signing a non-compete, to try to get a company to be as specific as possible about who the consider competition,” she said.
The Milan headhunter said, “It’s important for the negotiation to struc-ture the pact in a way that you can have a professional parachute. The trend now is to see these agreements, which have become more stringent in the past three to four years, drawn even when there is absolutely no need. And they can be very damaging because it means one is off the market for months.”
If a designer is barred from work for a year, that’s plenty of time for the fast-paced fashion industry to change around them. Another Milan-based headhunter recalled years ago working with a Prada designer who wished to move to Paris after two or three years of living in Milan and Prada ceo Patrizio Bertelli, in an effort to keep the designer, decided to “leverage a six-plus-three-month non-compete.”
The designer had interviewed and was expected to work with Julie de Libran, at the time second-in-command at Louis Vuitton under artistic director Marc Jacobs, but by the time the non-compete was up, Nicolas Ghesquière had suc-ceeded Jacobs.
“This designer was very talented and passed the interview with Nicolas, too, and finally ended working at Vuitton, but it was by no means certain that he would, with the change at the top,” the headhunter remarked. “Prada enforced the non-compete agreement on someone of great talent but young, not a head designer. My feeling at the time was also that Prada was hoping perhaps this per-son would come around and stay put.”

Luisa Zargani and Kali Hays


WWD  – 1 novembre 2017 –

Risky Business: Marco Gobbetti Hunts for a New Burberry Designer With Christopher Bailey soon exiting the British house, will ceo Marco Gobbetti stick to his word of experimenting to “create a new energy and positivity..”

LONDON — The heat is on to find Christopher Bailey’s successor at Burberry, and the question remains, will Marco Gobbetti be true to his word?

Burberry’s new chief executive officer, a fashion management star who helped steer Givenchy and Céline to success, declared during his first annual general meeting in July that Burberry needed to take more risks.

The company, he said, “must evolve and try new things. We have to experiment, to create. We have to ask ourselves tough questions, and be bold in all areas of the business in order to create a new energy and positivity.”

Gobbetti was expected do all that alongside Bailey, Burberry’s president and chief creative officer, but that was not to be: On Tuesday, Bailey said he plans to step down in 2018 after 17 years on the job.

And now Bailey’s exit could trigger another big shuffle in fashion’s merry-go-round.

Many would argue that Gobbetti’s new creative chief is right under his nose: Phoebe Philo, whose future at Céline has been the subject of speculation, and who’s said to be getting itchy feet after nine years at the LVMH-owned fashion house.

If Philo does take up the role next year, she’ll need replacing at Céline, creating more uncertainty in the designer market. It’s still unclear when, if and in what capacity Kim Jones might land at Versace, while ex-Givenchy couturier Riccardo Tisci remains on the sidelines — but still working with Nike — after his Versace gig fell through. Alber Elbaz has been keeping a low profile after leaving Lanvin, although he’s said to be working on a project in London, unrelated to Burberry.

Bailey, one of fashion’s longest-serving creative directors along with Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, Elbaz at Lanvin, Tomas Maier at Bottega Veneta — and Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel and Fendi — had long talked about a forging a strong partnership with Gobbetti, much like the ones he enjoyed with former ceo’s Rose Marie Bravo and Angela Ahrendts.

While Bailey was never expected to stay at Burberry forever, his quick exit — a few months after passing the ceo torch to Gobbetti — took many by surprise inside and outside the company. On Tuesday, Burberry shares closed down 1 percent at 19.02 pounds on the London Stock Exchange.

Bailey’s decision marks the end of an era and of the Burberry he fashioned, with its rumpled edges and polished Mario Testino campaigns, its military details, sweeps of classic tailoring, and nods to his beloved worlds of pop music, 20th-century British art and retro-romance with many a pleat and ruffle.

Next February will likely be the last time that Bailey runs out at the end of the show, and if a replacement isn’t found in time, his design studio will take care of the September 2018 collection.

Bailey has been busy reinforcing his creative team of late with the hire earlier this year of Sabrina Bonesi, who had previously worked for Prada and Dior, as design director for leather goods and shoes, a new role. He has also promoted a designer from within the company to work on women’s wear and is understood to be in the process of hiring a men’s wear one.

Gobbetti said that while he’s sad to see Bailey leave, “We have a clear vision for the next chapter to accelerate the growth and success of the Burberry brand. I am excited about the opportunity ahead for our teams, our partners and our shareholders.”

It’s up to Gobbetti now to make his own mark on Burberry – something that would have been difficult with Bailey still around. And while his inbox may already be brimming with tasks, his top priority now is finding a new designer who’ll help him pen a new chapter for the 161-year-old brand.

It’s unlikely that person will have the title of chief creative officer — which was created for Bailey when Ahrendts was ceo — and he or she will answer to Gobbetti, rather than the chairman of the board. It’s also unlikely that Burberry will promote talent from within its ranks.

“It’s a huge position and they need a strong creative head – what happened with Alessandro Michele at Gucci is pretty rare,” said Riccardo Tortato, fashion director of e-commerce, and men’s fashion director at Tsum.

Philo and Gobbetti are a proven team, and there are those who say it’s high time for a woman – and an English one in particular — to take the Burberry helm.

“Phoebe has the vision,” said Laura Vernier, partner at the Paris-based headhunter Jouve & Associés. “She is truly one of a kind, a highly intelligent artistic director — and English.”

Agnès Barret, principal of the Paris-based creative search firm Agent Secret, called Burberry “the most British of British brands” and said Philo, has a “real knack” for reviving heritage labels. “She has a perfect understanding of clothing and would be capable of injecting modernity into the brand, while staying true to its patrimony and DNA.”


Katie Grand, stylist and editor of Love magazine, said it’s the right moment for Burberry to hire a woman: “Phoebe is hugely talented and has proven that she works well within big corporations.”

Grand also pointed out there were “a lot of beige macs” in Philo’s latest Céline collection in what might have been a stealth audition for the big role. In retrospect, that navy trench dress and the white the leather poncho that closed Céline’s spring show might have also been a wink at Philo’s former boss.

Rachel Saywell-Burr, founder and managing director of Talent Atelier, a creative headhunting agency, said while Philo would bring a very different aesthetic to Burberry, the move would be a good one. “The next step for her really is to take on something enormous, like Burberry, or step out on her own, which is an incredibly overwhelming proposition.”

Saywell-Burr added there’s also the risk that Burberry goes too commercial with its next creative leader. “The move of getting Marco on board from Céline shows that the owners of the business want to keep that element of luxury there – and when we think of luxury, we naturally migrate over to Phoebe.”

She said Céline is “the number-one brand when you think true luxury, what she’s done is so new, innovative and different to what we had seen. Look at the brand beforehand when Michael Kors was at the helm. She has already worked with Marco, they have that synergy, he trusts her opinion.”


As much as a Gobbetti-Philo encore might work, it’s not a given. While sources have told WWD that Philo has slowly been preparing her exit, a spokesman for LVMH “categorically” denied “any imminent departure” of Philo from Céline.

Even if she does leave Céline, there’s no guarantee Philo will want to take on as big a machine as Burberry, with its 2.77 billion pounds in revenue and a market capitalization of 8.14 billion pounds.

Céline’s turnover is now in the ballpark of 800 million euros, having more than quadrupled in size since Philo arrived – and the French brand doesn’t have to live in the blinding glare of financial markets such as Burberry.

“The signs are pointing in Phoebe Philo’s direction for a number of reasons, including the fact she has worked with Marco before,” said Caroline Pill, vice president, global executive search Kirk Palmer Associates.

“Her appointment would make beautiful sense. That said, we’ve been surprised by many things this year, so it’s hard to say what will happen.” Industry sources have also floated Elbaz, Jones, Tisci, Maier and Stuart Vevers as possibilities – but only if they can handle the Burberry heat.

“I put my hands together and pray that they don’t do a Dior and make havoc with the brand,” said Emma Davidson, managing director of London-based Denza, which specializes in design and non-design recruitment for the fashion industry.

“I think Phoebe Philo would be a great choice – British, strong character but a little bit softer. There were great people internally at Burberry who would have been good to ‘do a Gucci,’ but they left. I would like to see a couple doing it. Like at Jil Sander. Not just a single person. It would make a nice image. Whoever it is, the brand could do with softening up,” she said.


Mathias Ohrel, founder of m-O, a Paris-based luxury recruitment firm, sees Bailey’s successor as someone experienced in accessories and leather goods, “where you need to be marketing and business savvy as much as creative.”

He pointed to former Bally design director Pablo Coppola. “But will Burberry take the risk?” he asked. He also named “the uber-talented” Johnny Coca, who has already worked with Gobbetti at Céline.” Coca is already taken, though, having joined Mulberry as creative director in 2015.

Saywell-Burr of Talent Atelier said Elbaz is someone who “certainly still has a lot left to do, but with something as large as Burberry and with such a huge focus on digital and retail, it may not suit the level of company that he would work with.”

One Italian headhunter suggested Tisci as a potential candidate, calling him an “innovator” who would bring added value to the brand. Other industry insiders argued that while Tisci may be a creative genius, he’s not an easy personality and might have trouble coping with a company the size and scale of Burberry.

The headhunter added that Burberry could also take an unexpected turn: “We’ve seen other luxury brands look outside the traditional circuits, opting for unusual and disruptive choices — think of Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga. Maybe that is another way to go.”

Anita Barr, group fashion buying director at Harvey Nichols, said her money is on Tisci. “I think both Riccardo and Phoebe Philo would bring something new to Burberry and I’m excited to see who it will be,” she said.

Asked about possible successors to Bailey, Giovanna Brambilla, partner at Milan-based executive search firm Value Search, said Gobbetti will have to make a choice depending on whether he wants Burberry “to embrace accessible or affordable luxury, or pure luxury. Only by knowing Burberry’s strategic positioning could we guess the designer — and it’s up to the ceo and the board to define that.”

Mary Gallagher, European associate for the New York-based search firm Martens & Heads, which counts Burberry among its clients, said the new designer would have to respect the very British DNA of the brand that Bailey helped to craft.

“If Clare Waight Keller hadn’t gone to Givenchy, I would have felt her a shoo-in. And someone like Kim Jones would be another strong contender for Burberry,” Gallagher said.

“Had some of the people not already been sewn up by other groups or brands, like a Christopher Kane or a Nicholas Kirkwood or a Stella McCartney, those designers could also be very strong for Burberry because I think you need someone who can steer a very big ship.”

Whomever the new designer is, they will be walking into a very different company than the one Bailey knew for most of his career at Burberry.

In 2016, on Bailey’s watch as ceo, Burberry laid out a restructuring and cost-savings plan aimed at reshaping the company for a future of slower growth in fashion and luxury goods and a digitally engaged, want-it-now customer base. As part of that plan, Burberry is aiming to deliver at least 100 million pounds in annualized savings by fiscal 2018-19.

Against the new, more austere backdrop, Bailey waived his bonus in fiscal 2016-17 for the second year running, although he was still able to collect about 10.5 million pounds when part of a 1 million chunk of shares he was awarded in 2013 vested last July.

Bailey’s salary last year was 1.1 million pounds, flat on the previous year. He received benefits and allowances of 469,000 pounds; 330,000 pounds in pension contributions, and 240,000 pounds, in a share plan.

In addition, he scooped an exceptional share award of 1.4 million pounds, as part of a performance-linked bonus agreed in 2014 when he took on the added role of ceo. That 1,4 million pounds payout represents a fraction of the share tranche that he received.

Going forward, new management hires at Burberry will see their perks slashed and the company also plans to trim pension contributions for new, external executive director appointments. Burberry will also remove “sign on” bonus or share awards, other than buyouts on recruitment.

In line with the more straightened times, Burberry confirmed on Tuesday that Bailey waived some of the future share awards he would have been entitled to as part of the brand’s incentive plans. Based on yesterday’s share price, those awards are worth 16 million pounds.

The company also pointed out that Bailey won’t receive any cash bonus for the period after March 2018, when he steps down from the board of directors.

That said, Bailey doesn’t have to worry on the fiscal front. When he leaves the company in December 2018, Bailey will walk away with a payout of up to 12 million pounds, from his salary, benefits, pension payments and share awards.

He said Tuesday he plans to pursue new creative projects, and sources have said Bailey won’t be bouncing to another brand any time soon. Both Bailey and Gobbetti declined to comment following the announcement Tuesday morning.

 Samantha Conti
with contributions from
Katya Foreman, Luisa Zargani, Natalie Theodosi



WWD – 16 giugno 2017 –

Brioni’s Choice Points to Rise of Women in Men’s Tailoring Could this mark a change in the traditional tailoring industry?

Milan — Is sartorial men’s wear the final glass ceiling for female designers?

On Thursday, Nina-Maria Nitsche was named creative director of Brioni, becoming the first woman to lead the storied Italian tailoring brand, sending out a message of innovation and a break with the past, observers contend.

“The appointment says a lot about the direction Brioni is taking,” said Giovanna Brambilla, partner at Milan-based executive search firm Value Search. “It means Brioni wants to innovate in terms of research, materials and style, and move away from tradition in terms of fits and shapes

Brambilla said the sartorial world is still dominated by men, perhaps because “women feel it is farther away in terms of sensibility,” but added that there are some exceptions, such as longtime Hermès men’s artistic director Véronique Nichanian.

Paola Cillo, associate professor and vice director, department of management and technology at Bocconi University and coordinator of luxury business management FT MBA at SDA Bocconi school of management, agreed Brioni’s choice shows a desire to innovate. Citing research by her colleague Myriam Mariani on women inventors in science, still only 4 percent in a male-dominated world, Cillo said, “It’s more difficult for them to enter and emerge in this arena but when they do, because they trademark an invention, for example, they are found to be more persistent and innovative than their male colleagues. Translating this into fashion, when there is an intellectual or scientific contribution, the impact is stronger and the drive to change runs deeper.”

Recently, several women designers have been in the spotlight for taking the top job at storied fashion brands, such as Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior; Bouchra Jarrar at Lanvin; Clare Waight Keller at Givenchy, and Natacha Ramsay-Levi at Chloé. And things may be changing in the more traditional sartorial world. At Brunello Cucinelli’s school of arts and crafts and specifically at the tailoring school at his Solomeo, Italy, headquarters, the majority of students are women.

Nitsche joined Maison Martin Margiela in 1989, working closely with the founding designer for 23 years. After Margiela’s resignation in 2009, Nitsche took over the creative direction of the brand. She joined Vetements in September 2016 but left when the company relocated to Zurich from Paris earlier this year. The designer’s experience at Margiela was highlighted by Armando Mammina, Milan-based marketing and strategic consultant. “This is significant because the professional skills there are very high, nothing is redundant at Margiela and all is based on details as it is at Brioni, where the combination of details is almost invisible,” he said.

Mammina commended the choice, which signals Brioni’s goal to “grow strong again after a period of turmoil.” He also believes that a woman’s eye and aesthetic sense could add a different streak on men’s traditional sartorial designs. “Perhaps they will be more fluid and more up-to-date,” he mused.

Brioni’s chief executive officer Fabrizio Malverdi clearly believes so and said on Thursday: “Ever since I met her in 1996, I have been impressed by her creative approach, starting from a clearly defined concept and then transforming that into products that accurately resonate with the customer. Her point of view will allow the brand’s core values to prosper and yet inject a contemporary dialogue that will enable Brioni to evolve into the future.”

Nitsche underscored how “the house’s philosophy is based on a pioneering approach to men’s wear,” saying that her goal was to “reinforce and invigorate this long-standing tradition.”

One men’s wear executive who spoke on condition of anonymity noted Brioni, founded in 1945, was the first to introduce silk, color and new silhouettes in men’s wear in the Fifties, moving away from the Savile Row tradition.

“Tapping a woman who comes from a fashion company clearly means that Brioni’s offer will be fashion and not sartorial. This is not a sexist message, but I believe that, generally, it’s inevitable for a woman not to have that same sensibility toward tailoring, the taste and the technical culture,” said the executive. “By choosing to do fashion, they are changing Brioni’s positioning.”

Another men’s wear executive said he was less surprised by the fact that Nitsche is a woman than by Brioni’s choice to opt for a non-Italian designer. “They pride themselves on the Roman style, but it’s true that the brand is very strong outside of Italy. In any case, these are all stereotypes. Everything is based on good taste and creativity. Brioni should build on what it was good at, high and pure luxury. Creative directors all have the same kind of education, culture and experiences that are very similar.” The executive also emphasized Maison Margiela’s “niche, not mainstream creativity” and what this could mean for Nitsche’s take on Brioni.

François-Henri Pinault, chairman and ceo of parent Brioni’s parent Kering, highlighted that Nitsche “has a very accurate understanding of the Brioni man and she will bring a comprehensive and articulate creative vision to the house. I am sure that, together with Fabrizio Malverdi, she will build on the house’s tradition of exceptional craftsmanship to propel Brioni into a new dynamic.”

Malverdi joined Brioni as ceo in April, succeeding Gianluca Flore and reporting to Jean-François Palus, managing director of Kering. He was most recently ceo of Agent Provocateur and is perhaps best known for his stints as managing director of Dior Homme and as ceo of Givenchy, where he accrued expertise in the high-end men’s wear market.

At Brioni, Malverdi is tasked with repositioning the brand and bringing stability. The company has been in a state of flux after going through two creative directors in less than a year, confounding some customers and retailers. Issues linked to positioning, pricing and communication also weighed on the brand, as did a rationalization of its workforce at its headquarters in Penne, Italy.

Flore, a former Bottega Veneta executive, joined Brioni in November 2014 and handpicked Brioni’s former creative director Justin O’Shea, a women’s retail executive who had no design experience. O’Shea abruptly departed the company last October after only six months. During his brief tenure, he steered Brioni away from its heritage and made changes that observers believed were not in sync with the brand, such as tapping Metallica for the label’s fall 2016 ads.

O’Shea succeeded Brendan Mullane, who had joined the Italian men’s wear brand in July 2012 and exited in February 2016. The arrival of Mullane marked the first time Brioni had named a designer to oversee the men’s line. A former head men’s wear designer at Givenchy, Mullane was based in Rome and reported to then ceo Francesco Pesci. Mullane helped expand other categories for the Italian men’s wear brand, known for its high-end tailored suits, developing its outerwear and sportswear, footwear and accessories, and targeting a younger customer.

Luisa Zargani



Corriere della Sera – L’Economia – 13 marzo 2017 –


Lusso: Parigi in testa ma Milano avanza
La capitale francese si conferma al primo posto per sfilate ma ne perde cinque. Il capoluogo lombardo cresce. Analisi Bcg

Due domeniche fa, a Parigi, un momento pioveva e quello dopo soleggiava, mettendo così alla prova l’organizzazione, faticosa, delle sfilate. Con il centro città praticamente chiuso, compresi (con poche eccezioni) i grandi negozi di quella moda che in quelle stesse ore mandavano in passerella le loro nuove collezioni. Ma la domenica è domenica a Parigi, che ci sia o non ci sia la settimana del fashion. E la capitale francese si è confermata la regina dell’ultima, lunga, stagione di moda femminile, iniziata a Londra, poi passata a New York, per arrivare a Milano e terminare appunto a Parigi.

«Ancora Parigi», rispondono gli addetti ai lavori quando si chiede quale sia oggi «la» città della moda in un momento in cui sta cambiando il volto mondiale del settore. Ma Milano la tallona, aggiungono.

I numeri

Aveva fatto scalpore un paio di anni fa uno studio realizzato da Boston Consulting Group, per conto del Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico, in cui si mettevano a confronto i quattro principali sistemi – Usa, UK, Italia e Francia – e che faceva vedere il grande crollo delle sfilate milanesi. Dati che non erano piaciuti a tutti, ma che avevano avuto un effetto «sveglia», convincendo un settore estremamente creativo, e altrettanto frammentato, a mettersi insieme. A parlare con una voce sola. Finalmente. E, così, ecco la firma di un Tavolo della moda ed ecco il prossimo appuntamento di settembre che vedrà diventare Milano la grande capitale della moda mondiale. Ma torniamo ai numeri.

L’Economia ha chiesto a Boston Consulting di aggiornare quello studio soffermandosi solo sulle ultime sfilate (senza prendere in considerazione le presentazioni statiche).

Il risultato lo vedete nel grafico. Tra Londra, Milano e Parigi solo Milano recupera una sfilata, mentre Parigi e Londra ne perdono cinque ciascuna, con Parigi che riduce anche di un giorno la sua fashion week (che, però, resta la più lunga: 8 giorni contro i 6 di Milano e i 5 di Londra).

«Al di là del numero di sfilate – dice Nicola Pianon, senior partner e managing director di Boston Consulting Group – c’è anche un tema di qualità di brand da non sottovalutare». Per questo Bcg ha preso in esame, tra i marchi che sfilano, quelli che fatturano più di 500 milioni: guida Parigi con 9, la tallona Milano con 8, segue Londra con un solo brand oltre quella soglia (Burberry). Manca un soffio per riprendere Parigi. Meglio, siamo già Pari se ci si mette Dolce & Gabbana che sfila fuori calendario ufficiale della Camera della moda su cui è stata fatta l’analisi.

La situazione, insomma, si è normalizzata rispetto al precedente studio. «C’eravamo accorti – dice Pianon, che insieme a Federico Bonelli, principal di Bcg, ha curato le analisi – che il sistema italiano a causa della sua frammentazione perdeva di efficienza rispetto a quello francese, dominato da tre grandi player come Lvmh, Kering e Chanel; e anche rispetto al sistema americano e inglese che, partiti da una pagina bianca, hanno creato una struttura accentrata efficiente, assunto manager capaci e fatto un grande lavoro di visibilità, pur non avendo in origine una ricchezza di proposte. L’obiettivo della prima analisi era quello di far vedere la situazione per evitare di non sperperare soldi pubblici dati a pioggia e creare, invece, un’unica cabina di regia. Le fashion week si collocavano all’interno di questo ragionamento».


Certo se si guarda Milano è ancora lontana dai periodi più fecondi, quando aveva oltre 80 sfilate. «Molte variazioni riguardano brand piccoli, le sfilate costano e se un marchio non ha massa critica il costo può diventare insostenibile». Ma va detto che tutto il settore sta cambiando. I mercati sono diversi e difficili, non c’è più spazio per tutti, i consumatori sono veloci e superinformati. Così le strategie variano, c’è chi sfila donna e uomo insieme (anche questo è un motivo riduzione delle sfilate), chi mette in vendita ciò che ha appena fatto vedere in passerella.

«La sfilata – dice Giovanna Brambilla, amministratrice delegata di Value Search, non è più solo un esercizio creativo ma deve essere ben industrializzata per poter vendere, oltre che creare l’immagine del brand».

Il cambiamento è forte. E le fashion week non ne sono immuni. Il presidente della Camera della moda italiana, Carlo Capasa, ha esplicitato l’idea di anticipare l’edizione estiva delle sfilate a luglio, «ma non possiamo decidere da soli». È tempo di mettere mano al calendario. Anche perché piazze nuove si affacciano. Agguerrite.

Riproduzione riservata

Maria Silvia Sacchi





Corriere Economia – 13 giugno 2016 –

Strategie – Da Ferragamo a Versace, sono molti i gruppi che stanno rinnovando l’organizzazione

La capacità di capire il consumatore ha sostituito quella di saper aprire negozi. Arrivi e partenze in Loro Piana: cambiato il Ceo, esce Festa per andare in Cavalli

Gli ultimi movimenti riguardano Loro Piana. La società che fa capo a Lvmh ha appena annunciato il cambio dell’amministratore delegato, chiamando l’italiano Fabio D’Angelantonio, ex Luxottica, al posto del francese Matthieu Brisset. Un uomo marketing come D’Angelantonio, al posto di un uomo «dei conti» come Brisset. E già questo è un indicatore della direzione presa.

L’avvicendamento sarà operativo da settembre ma non è l’unico che riguarda il Gruppo. In Loro Piana è, infatti, arrivato da poco, proveniente da Fendi, Jean Baptiste Debains, neo managing director retail; mentre è in uscita Alberto Festa che dal prossimo 20 giugno, si dice, diventerà il capo del commerciale della Roberto Cavalli.

Loro Piana non è il solo gruppo a essere in fase di riordino manageriale e organizzativo. Lo sono anche Versace, Ferragamo, Furla, Luxottica, Zegna, solo per citare alcuni dei gruppi che negli ultimi mesi hanno annunciato avvicendamenti al vertice, mentre altri sono attesi. Dopo gli stilisti, infatti, il cambiamento sta colpendo i manager. E non solo quelli che non hanno prodotto dei risultati ma anche chi, come nel caso di Gian Giacomo Ferraris, ha ristrutturato completamente una società come Versace riportandola alla crescita e a un passo dalla quotazione.



La ripresa del dopo estate vedrà, dunque, partire alcuni gruppi con una guida nuova. È il caso, per esempio, oltre che di Loro Piana, anche di Ferragamo, dove Eraldo Poletto, proveniente da Furla, assumerà ad agosto le deleghe che negli ultimi dieci anni sono state di Michele Norsa, il manager che ha portato con successo in Borsa il gruppo fiorentino.

«In una fase di rallentamento del business è possibile che qualcuno faccia una riflessione in più per completare un ciclo manageriale e partire con una nuova strada», dice Nicola Pianon, senior partner e managing director di Boston Consulting Group

«Soprattutto nel corso dell’ultimo anno – aggiunge Antonio Achille, senior partner di McKinsey con delega per il lusso – il contesto è diventato più impegnativo, provocando nervosismo in un settore che è abituato a crescere senza grandi difficoltà e dove la forza del prodotto a volte ha compensato delle debolezze manageriali». È rallentata l’Asia, «mentre gli Stati Uniti, dove si pensava che il dollaro forte aiutasse l’esportazione, hanno visto una riduzione del turismo».



Gli ultimi dati prodotti da Bain & Co per Altagamma, l’associazione delle imprese dell’eccellenza, hanno stimato previsioni di crescita del lusso da qui al 2020 tra il 2 e il 3 per cento. «Il 2016 è uno degli anni più difficili, un punto di svolta – ha detto Claudia D’Arpizio, partner di Bain & Co che ha curato l’indagine –. D’ora in poi si crescerà togliendo quote di mercato agli altri».

I mercati risentono dell’instabilità dovuta al terrorismo internazionale. Di politiche interne, come la Cina con le misure anticorruzione introdotte negli ultimissimi anni dal presidente Xi Jinping; o come il Brasile che da grande promessa è sprofondato nella crisi tra scandali e instabilità politica. C’è poi il profondo cambiamento dei consumatori a contribuire in modo deciso al nuovo clima che contraddistingue la moda e il lusso. Clienti più attenti al rapporto qualità-prezzo e, al tempo stesso, alla ricerca di prodotti che non siano «già visti».

Soprattutto, ragazzi e ragazze (ma anche uomini e donne adulti) che non vanno più – o non vanno solo – in negozio per fare acquisti, ma cercano e confrontano su internet e sempre più spesso pure acquistano su internet. «Sarà sempre più importante curare i consumatori locali per fare in modo che vengano nei negozi – ha detto Claudia D’Arpizio – il traffico nelle strade si è ridotto, fare shopping andando ad acquistare in negozio non è più così cool».

Per tutte queste ragioni «il centro vuole capire bene quello che sta succedendo e quindi richiama al centro le responsabilità e anche le decisioni – è l’opinione di Giovanna Brambilla, amministratrice delegata di Value Search, società di executive search –. È indicativa – prosegue la motivazione data dal cavalier Del Vecchio quando ha annunciato l’uscita di Adil Khan e deciso di riprendere le redini di Luxottica: ha detto che non erano scontenti dei risultati dell’amministratore delegato ma che era giunto il momento in cui l’imprenditore richiamasse a sé alcune funzioni».

Il caso Luxottica che ha tenuto banco per diverso tempo e ancora fa riflettere chi si occupa sia di lusso sia di imprese familiari, ha avuto molte letture. In particolare c’è chi ha sottolineato la difficoltà dei fondatori delle aziende familiari di staccarsi dalle proprie «creature». Cosa che può diventare un problema, visto che il cambiamento dei mercati e delle funzioni aziendali presuppone che l’imprenditore accetti di operare con le nuove competenze, abbandonando le modalità di lavoro precedenti.



Mercati, digital, consumatori. È sul cambiamento di questi tre pilastri che si fondano le competenze che i nuovi amministratori delegati devono avere.

Tracciando l’identikit dei prossimi Ceo, Nicola Pianon di Boston Consulting Group sottolinea che dovranno avere tre competenze sopra tutte le altre. La prima è «la capacità di conoscere il consumatore, abilità che diventa più importante del saper aprire nuovi punti vendita, cioè della competenza che ha contraddistinto i manager di successo del lusso del periodo precedente». La seconda «è saper gestire il retail esistente, sotto il profilo della resa per metro quadrato». La terza e ultima «è la maggior capacità di gestire il digitale e il multicanale», ovvero la vendita integrata tra negozio fisico e negozio virtuale.


Maria Silvia Sacchi


Fashion Magazine – Contest – Venerdì 4 marzo 2016 –

Remix, la competizione internazionale dedicata ai talenti del fashion e fur design, organizzata dell’International Fur Federation (IFF) con il supporto di Vogue Talents, ha premiato l’israeliana Daniel Kohavi, laureata allo Shenkar College, con il Gold Award. Secondo e terzo posto rispettivamente per Ali Koc ed Edda Gimnes.

A convincere la giuria – composta da Sara Maino (senior editor di Vogue Italia & Vogue Talents), Veronica Etro (direttore creativo delle linee Etro donna), dalla blogger americana Tamu McPherson, Leah Perez (capo del dipartimento di design della moda di Shenkar) e Lory Yedid (partner di Value Search) – è stato il capo-icona della collezione, ispirata alle installazioni artistiche di Claire Morgan, presentato da Daniel Kohavi:un abito reso onirico e surreale, grazie agli inserti di piume, fili e pelliccia di coniglio, visone e volpe abbinati ad altri materiali organici (nella foto).

Ali Koc, proveniente dalla Turchia, è riuscito a conquistare il Remix Silver prize, grazie a un mix di bianco/nero in rex e procione dall’effetto optical e ipnotico. La designer, laureata in Fashion and Textile Design all’Università Namik Kemal, si è ispirata a un’illusione: una distorsione dei sensi, che rivela come il cervello organizzi e interpreti la simulazione sensoriale.

Il Bronze award, invece, è andato a Edda Gimnes (Regno Unito). Laureata in womenswear al London College of Fashion, si è ispirata alle poesie di Charles Baudelaire: ne è scaturito un progetto di capi “illustrati”, con visone scandinavo black and white.

«Anno dopo anno, il talent creative dei giovani finalisti di Remix allarga sempre più i confini di un materiale come la pelliccia, reiventandolo attraverso la sua versatilità – ha dichiarato Mark Oaten, ceo IFF -. La collezione di Daniel Kohavi ha letteralmente catturato la mia attenzione e quella della giuria attraverso i suoi capi “congelati nel tempo”. Ciò che il nostro settore è in grado di produrre, supera ogni anno le mie aspettative. Come sempre un grande grazie a tutti coloro che hanno partecipato a Remix in questa edizione».

Corriere Economia – 18 Gennaio 2016

Se anche Hedi Slimane, come si dice sul mercato, lascerà la direzione creativa di Yves Saint Laurent, forse è venuto il momento di fare una riflessione in più.

Negli ultimi mesi alcuni dei maggiori marchi francesi hanno vissuto un avvicendamento alla guida creativa. In Dior, di proprietà del gruppo Lvmh, è uscito Raf Simons: in Lanvin (oggi di proprietà della miliardaria Cinese Shaw Lang Wang) Alber Elnaz; ora si parla di Ysl, brand di Kering. Passaggi di consegne sono normalità nella vita delle aziende se non fosse che oggi il contesto e divenuto estremamente competitivo e sembra chiedere una risposta nuova e diversa da parte delle maison.

Non è probabilmente un caso che né Dior né Lanvin abbiano ancora annunciato.  il nuovo stilista nonostante gli addii risalgano a ottobre scorso. Mesi in cui molti sono stati i rumor sui possibili sostituti: la stampa più recente ha riportato
l’ipotesi di Sarah Burton, attuale direttore creativo di Alexander McQueen, per Dior e di Erdem Moralioglu per Lanvin. Né Simons né, se sarà confermato, soprattutto Slimane sono «designer in perdita» ma, al contrario, fautori di successo per i brand.

«Le maison sono sempre meno legate alla personalità e alla genialità dei creativi e sempre più al business, anche se senza la creatività viene meno lo spirito e l’unicità di un marchio. Un punto di equilibrio molto difficile da tenere – dice Giovanna Brambilla, amministratrice delegata di Value Search, società di executive search con una forte competenza e focus su moda e lusso a livello internazionale -: da una parte il mercato chiede sempre nuova creatività, ed è come se non bastasse mai; dall’altra sono necessari un grande senso del business, una macchina e un management di alto profilo e visione che traducano questa creatività in risultati. Forse è il momento in cui tutto il modello deve essere rimesso in discussione».

È quello che sta facendo – rimettere in discussione il modello – la Camera della moda americana, che ha commissionato a Boston consulting group uno studio ad hoc. «È l’effetto di più avvenimenti insieme – prosegue Brambilla -. Di mercati che non stanno crescendo com’era nelle aspettative. Di un approccio e di una cultura del lusso che è diventata più democratica con il digitale, per cui oggi è difficile mantenere il senso di esclusività che è insito nel concetto di lusso.

Di un cambiamento dei consumatori, che vuole oggi, subito, ciò che ha appena visto sfilare ma che nelle vetrine sarà disponibile un anno dopo. Finora – conclude – anziché rivedere il modello, si è chiesto alle aziende di essere sempre più veloci, più creative, più, più, più … ».

Una pressione eccessiva sulla creatività. Proprio quella che ha portato Simons a lasciare Dior per concentrarsi sulla propria linea «Quando fai sei sfilate all’anno, non c’è tempo per l’intero processo – aveva detto in una intervista a The Cut -. Non hai il tempo di incubazione delle idee e il tempo di incubazione è molto importante».

Bloomerg Business – April 29th, 2015

Long-time bosses at Armani, Chanel, Cavalli, and LVMH will soon shuffle off the catwalk


At its core, the business of fashion is an endless quest for something new. Problem is, some of the biggest names are getting rather old. Giorgio Armani and Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld are in their 80s, Roberto Cavalli is 74, and Bernard Arnault, chairman of the company that owns Louis Vuitton, turns 66 in May. Of these, only Cavalli seems ready to swap his sketch book for slippers, as he’s trying to sell his business. The rest present succession quandaries that couldreverberate long after fashion’s senior statesmen shuffle off the catwalk for good.

At stake are combined annual revenues of more than $40 billion and Europe’s hold on the global market for designer handbags, shoes and other personal luxury goods.

“We’re reaching the end of an era,” said Jane Kellock, founder of trend-consultant Unique Style Platform. “We may not see their like again.”

Replacing a superstar designer isn’t easy, but it can be done. Twelve years after Coco Chanel died, Lagerfeld breathed new life into the Chanel brand by reinterpreting the founder’s aesthetic — think tweed skirt-suits and pearls for ladies who lunch.

More recently, Nicolas Ghesquiere has revived growth at Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury brand, after Marc Jacobs left to focus on his own label. And Hedi Slimane has made Saint Laurent the hottest name in fashion with biker jackets, baby doll dresses and skinny jeans.

Get it wrong, though, and it can spell pain — as Gucci’s recent woes attest. After being promoted to creative director in 2006, Frida Giannini struggled to develop a distinctive identity for the Italian brand. That led to a slump in sales, and analysts at Raymond James expect it will take until 2017 to recover to high-single digit growth.

Kering SA, which owns Gucci, dropped Giannini in January and replaced her with Alessandro Michele. Giannini couldn’t be reached for comment.


“Lagerfeld’s crocodile boots will be tough to fill”

Lagerfeld, 81, has been a fashion fixture since Dwight D. Eisenhower occupied the White House. The German designer, known for his prolific work ethic, black and white wardrobe, and ever-present sunglasses, has worked with Fendi for a half-century and — simultaneously — for Chanel since 1983. In his spare time he also designs for his own label.

Even if Lagerfeld’s crocodile boots will be tough to fill (at Chanel, he designs eight collections annually) he’s surrounded by strong teams. Fendi is co-designed by a member of the Italian founding family, and both companies employ scores of talented artisans.

While that provides some assurance of continuity, it also shows how the role of creative director is getting ever more demanding in a global, digital economy. Chief designers have to come up with head-to-toe collections in weeks rather than months. And they must travel more to promote them, all of which requires almost superhuman levels of energy, said Giovanna Brambilla, a partner at recruiter Value Search Srl.

“Geniuses always leave a hole,” said Brambilla. “But in some cases, the brand can actually benefit from new energy.”

Fendi declined to comment. Chanel didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Kering and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE (which counts Fendi among its 70 brands) have been building stables of up-and-coming designers by taking stakes in their fledgling labels. LVMH invested in J.W. Anderson’s business in 2013, and has since unleashed the Northern Irishman on bag maker Loewe.

Arnault, LVMH’s chairman, has applied the roster approach to his succession. His two eldest children, Delphine and Antoine, already work at LVMH. And he has three other offspring, a nephew, and a niece, who could yet join them.

“The beauty of this kind of approach is that you leave quite a lot of time for the succession to gain traction,” said Luca Solca, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas. “Delphine and Antoine have all the time in world to prove themselves and get stronger and more experienced and one day be the leaders.”

Cavalli doesn’t have the same luxury, and his five children don’t appear ready to replace him. Among them, his son Daniele has held the highest profile role — a brief stint designing menswear — but he quit last year. So the cigar-smoking Cavalli brought in a creative director in March and is holding talks to sell a majority stake to private equity firm Clessidra SGR. A spokeswoman for Cavalli declined to comment.

Armani, who rose to prominence dressing Richard Gere in the 1980 film American Gigolo, said last year he hasn’t made up his mind about what happens after him. The 80-year-old has no children, though his nephew and two nieces are on the board. Armani’s spokeswoman says he isn’t in talks with any potential buyers.

For a designer who has previously explored deals with Hermes International SCA and LVMH, and who is so meticulous that he even decides how the light switches look in his hotels, it would be a surprise if he weren’t making plans.

Yet uncertainty around his succession is itself a risk because Armani serves as owner, creative director and CEO of the company he founded in 1975, said Fabrizio Ferraro, professor of strategic management at IESE Business School in Barcelona.

If Armani were to allow others at his company to share some of the spotlight, he would assure the fashion community that the business can continue without him, whatever he decides, Ferraro said.

“Even if you’re privately owned, more openness about the variety of management roles in a company would be positive” Ferraro said. Armani’s is a “sensitive and complex succession situation.”


Andrew Roberts