Richemont and Alber Elbaz announce partnership

Swiss luxury group Richemont and designer Alber Elbaz have announced a joint venture called AZfashion. Details of the new partnership have not been disclosed, but Richemont in a statement said AZfashion will be an innovative and dynamic start up, meant to turn dreams into reality.”

The Swiss luxury group is keen to captivate a millennial customer, a move rival groups LMVH and Kering have been more adept at when installing creative heads for their portfolio brands, like Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton, Kim Jones at Dior and Daniel Lee at Bottega Veneta.

Elbaz, who’s near 15 year tenure at Lanvin ended in 2015, has largely shunned the fashion limelight and not taken any high profile roles since his unceremonious departure, other than low-key accessory collaborations with Tod’s and LeSportSac.

Elbaz can be credited with turning Lanvin from a small business with just 15 wholesale accounts into a global, bonafide luxury brand and is widely respected by the industry. He has always hinted he would return to the industry, and said the new partnership is “going to be about things I believe are relevant to make.” Whether that is a new approach to manufacturing, distribution and marketing remains to be seen.

Starting a new brand is never easy

Starting a brand from scratch is no easy feat, not even for a seasoned designer with the backing of a luxury group. For now, Richemont said the partnership would be project-based. “We are not going to do pre-collections, collections, post-collections, and we are beginning really, really small,” Elbaz told the New York Times. Perhaps he was referring to the relentless fashion cycle of 6-8 collections a year, widely seen as the norm, but hardly sustainable considering the amount of clothes that remain unsold at the end of the season.

Still, the teaming up of a star designer and luxury house without a heritage brand could prove to be an exciting and refreshing venture that could set a new precedent. While the retail landscape has changed considerably since 2015, Richemont, the parent company of Net-a-Porter and Yoox, will have all the data and analytics it needs for AZfashion to be a digital-first business.

This was iterated by Johann Rupert, Chairman of Richemont, who said: “Upon hearing Alber Elbaz describe his vision for fashion and the projects it inspires in him, I was again struck by his creativity and insight. His talent and inventiveness, with his sensitivity towards women and their wellbeing, will be of great value to our Group and its Maisons.”

“I am very happy to partner with Richemont and to establish my “dream factory”, which will focus on developing solutions for women of our times. I am extremely excited to collaborate with good people, talented and smart individuals and look forward to also having a lot of fun with this new adventure.”






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