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LVMH to acquire majority stake in Virgil Abloh's Off-White label

Business

Image: Off-White
By Don-Alvin Adegeest

Jul 20, 2021

LVMH is adding Off-White to its portfolio of brands after the French luxury house agreed on Tuesday to take a 60 percent stake in Off-White LLC. The Milan-based New Guards Group, the license holder of the brand, will remain an operational partner.

Founder Virgil Abloh will remain in his role as creative director, in addition to his contractual duties as artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear.

While terms of the deal were not disclosed, LVMH and Abloh will be looking to develop and launch new brands, likely in the luxury streetwear fashion space. Off-White has the potential to be grown substantially, expanding into categories including homeware, beauty and fragrance.

In an interview with the New York Times, Abloh confirmed he will be taking on a bigger role within LVMH, bringing a diverse voice to its portfolio of brands. “I’m getting a seat at the table,” Abloh said.

“We’re not trying to emulate a model that already exists,” Michael Burke, the chief executive of Louis Vuitton, said of Abloh’s new role to the NY Times. “It’s more like what Bernard Arnault did when he bought Dior and decided to create a federation of luxury brands.”

On the path to inclusivity

LVMH, despite its commitment to diversity, operates with an all caucasian board and executive committee. The company made history when in 2018 it named Abloh the artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear, making him the first-ever Black designer to lead a French luxury brand. In a Financial Times ranking of the most inclusive companies in Europe in 2020, as rated by 100,000 employees across 15,000 companies, LVMH failed to make it to the top 850, compared to Louis Vuitton coming in at 16.

LVMH on an acquisition spree

LVMH has been busy of late, last week confirming a 20 percent stake in Phoebe Philo’s new label, as well as L Catterton, LVMH’s consumer-focused private equity firm, taking majority ownership of Etro Europe. In April L Catterton finalised its buyout of German shoemaker Birkenstock. In Paris, the La Samaritaine department store was reopened to much fanfare in June, after LVMH’s titanic restoration (costing 750 million euros) that lasted multiple years.

LVMH has a history of taking a stake in the brands founded by the designers that creatively lead its heritage labels, including Marc Jacobs while at Louis Vuitton, John Galliano at Dior and JW Anderson at Loewe.

Not original

Off-White has often been plagued for copying designers, of which Abloh in an interview with 032c said: “In the postmodern order [that is fashion], being ‘original’ seems to be the thing that matters least.” He reiterated this to the NY Times: “Relevancy is my metric.”