NOW that the anticipation and excitement of “who’s leaving”, “who’s coming” and “who’s going where…” is behind us, it’s time to take a closer look at how these fashion shake-ups in the menswear market are going to change the way we dress in 2019. From Marc Jacob to Stefano Pilati, Alber Elbaz, and Tom Ford (possibly one of the most high-profile exits) the fashion industry has gotten quite accustomed to big-name designers coming and going.
However, the sheer amount of rapid changes to key positions over the past 12 months is unprecedented. From Virgil Abloh to Hedi Slimane, Riccardo Tisci, and Kim Jones – these creative heads at the helm of four of the biggest labels in the market were making headlines everywhere. With incredible track records of elevating the brand status and producing concrete business results, can these fashion top dogs leave, yet another, lasting legacy in the menswear market?
It’s a tried-and-tested formula. Taking in new blood has always helped to revive brands, and boost sales figures. As Fashionista points out, in April of 2018, Gucci registered a whopping 48.7 percent Q1 growth, which was followed by a similarly strong showing of 44.6 percent in 2017. Gucci’s pick of Alessandro Michele taking over the creative helm from Frida Giannini did wonders for the Kering-owned brand. When Hedi Slimane became the creative head at Yves Saint Laurent in 2014, the business swelled to €707 million (approximately US $897 million) in sales revenue, an increase of 27 percent from the year before. Meanwhile, Céline, the storied brand who was under-performing until Phoebe Philo came on board and drove sales to €750 million (approximately US$950 millions) for LVMH, according to Business of Fashion in 2015.
Balenciaga too is enjoying impressive growth following the appointment of Demna Gvasalia (founder of Vehement). Revenue was reported in the neighbourhood of €400 million (approximately US$506 million). Since 2015, the label grew at a much faster pace with sales leaping to 40 percent in 2017. At this rate it’s growing, Kering is optimistic that the brand will top the one billion dollar mark, said Kering CEO François-Henri Pinault to Fashion Network.
While the prospect of improving business performance, or even the need to “update” or “refresh” stagnant brand images may call for a change, however, changing of the guard at these luxury houses entail big expenditures. And there’s also the risk the brand has to endure a brief drought if the budding partnership needs time to deliver a return on investment.
What’s more; the big-shot creative directors paid in the millions don’t just come alone. They come with an entourage. As Business of Fashion reported in 2015, “when Dior hired Raf Simons in 2012, the company also hired Pieter Mulier, Simons’ right-hand man. Dior also had to re-organise the entire operating model of the studio to suit Simons’ liking. Meanwhile, when Hedi Slimane took the top creative job at Saint Laurent in 2012, the company had to set up a design studio with a team of fifteen in Los Angeles (thousands of miles from Saint Laurent’s headquarters) where the designer lived.
“Similarly, Paris-based Céline built a new studio in London for Phoebe Philo when she joined the house in 2008, requiring scores of employees to shuttle back and forth between London, Paris, and Florence, where the company’s leather goods operations were located.”
Whether they succeed or fall short of expectations, it’s a leap of faith companies are going to have to take. It may be too early to tell if these new designers are going to satisfy the demand of the growing menswear market. For now, let’s take a look at some of the designs to expect in 2019 – you be the judge.
Louis Vuitton by Virgil Abloh
The American fashion designer, DJ, and music producer who has been the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear collection since March 2018. Apart from his work at Louis Vuitton, Abloh serves as the chief executive officer of the Milan-based label Off-White, a fashion house he founded in 2013. His latest collection is Spring/Summer 2019.
Dior Men by Kim Jones
British menswear designer Kim Jones has a litany of highly acclaimed credentials, including his achievements at Dunhill, Louis Vuitton, Mulberry, Alexander McQueen, Hugo Boss, Iceberg, Topman and Uniqlo. He left Louis Vuitton as the men’s artistic director in January 2018 to join Dior Men as the artistic director. His debut collection was presented in June 2018. His most recent showing was the Pre-Fall 2019 collection in Tokyo.
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Celine by Hedi Slimane
One of the most prominent designers of our time, Hedi Slimane announced earlier this year that he would be joining Céline as artistic, creative and image director starting February 1. The Frenchman started out as an assistant in fashion marketing at Yves Saint Laurent in the 90s before making his way up to assume the position of creative director for Dior Homme in 2000. Slimane left Dior in 2007. In 2012, he returned to Yves Saint Laurent as the creative director, overseeing the brand’s womenswear and menswear collections. He also pushed through the rebrand to Saint Laurent and the design studio was partially relocated to LA.
Burberry by Riccardo Tisci
The Italian designer is renowned for his work at Givenchy. Tisci revived the brand to its former glory with dark, sensual and subversive collections. After announcing his departure from the French label in 2017, Tisci took the job as the chief creative officer at Burberry in March 2018, Based in London, he presented his first outing for the brand in September 2018.