This week, a deep dive into Lanvin Group’s clear direction post-IPO. Scroll down to use Glossy+ Comments, giving the Glossy+ community the opportunity to join discussions around industry topics.
Early Friday afternoon, Central European Time, Wolford’s Silvia Azzali and Nao Takekoshi Zoomed with Glossy from Milan while counting down to the company’s first-ever fashion-week event. Held that night and serving as the introduction of Wolford’s spring campaign featuring multi-hyphenate Grace Jones, the presentation hosted international press and fashion influencers. Three days before, the 73-year-old brand announced Takekoshi as its new artistic director. And three days before that, it started a TikTok account. On February 10, Wolford had a first-time presence at New York Fashion Week, via its Jonathan Simkhai collaboration debut on the American designer’s runway.
“We want to reintroduce our brand and heighten awareness around what we’ve been doing and the fantastic things we’ve been creating,” said Takekoshi, who started his career at Issey Miyake, before working as head designer for brands including Donna Karan and Jil Sander. He said he started working with Wolford as a consultant last year.
Headquartered in Austria, Wolford is the biggest revenue driver of parent company Lanvin Group, the Fosun International-owned, Shanghai-based company that IPO’ed in mid-December. On February 17, the Group, which also owns French fashion house Lanvin, American luxury brand St. John, and Italian companies Sergio Rossi and Caruso, announced a total 2022 revenue increase of 38% year-over-year, to €425 million.
At the time of the IPO, Joann Cheng, Lanvin Group chairman and CEO, stressed that, overall, the Group’s next steps would prioritize long-term, versus rapid, growth. She said that introducing novelty through expanded retail footprints, digital presences and product categories, as well as new talent, would be a focus. In addition, she wanted to leverage the Group’s global footprint, as well as each brand’s unique DNA.
But just two months later, Cheng’s mission has already been made apparent through a range of back-to-back, high-investment moves by the Group’s brands. On February 28, St. John will launch a spring 2023 campaign featuring TV producer and writer Shonda Rhimes. Andy Lew, the brand’s global CEO, said it’s “the most substantial investment” the brand has made in “multiple years.”
“We’re a public company now, and we need to show our shareholders what we’re doing,” said Azzali, Wolford’s chief commercial officer. Last Friday, when Lanvin Group announced its 2022 numbers, shares of the company shot up 5.6%.
Lew said the IPO has brought “energy” and “excitement,” as well as “investment,” to St. John. Likewise, Azzali spoke about the new “visibility” and “support” Wolford has, as a result.
Along with new star-studded campaigns, recent, noteworthy news to come out of Lanvin Group includes changes to its board of directors, in January. Though St. John’s former creative director, Zoe Turner, reportedly departed the company in October, its current evp of design, Enrico Chiarparin, was hired “a little over a year ago,” according to a company spokesperson. Chiarparin, whose resume includes design roles at Moncler, Calvin Klein and James Perse, debuted his first collection for the brand, in collaboration with stylist Karla Welch, in December. While a spokesperson confirmed that Lanvin creative director Bruno Sialelli is still with the company, recent projects under the global “Character Studies” campaign introducing a new brand identity have leveraged the agency M/M (Paris) for creative direction.
Collaborations have become a greater focus for Lanvin Group brands, including inter-Group product partnerships. After collaborating with NYC-based fashion brand Area on a footwear collection for spring 2023, Sergio Rossi teamed with Wolford on a seven-piece collection spanning hosiery, shoes and catsuits. Azzali said the styles sold out within a couple of weeks after launching in November. In 2022, Wolford also collaborated with Mugler, GCDS and Alberta Ferretti.
Azzali and Takekoshi hinted that a Wolford collaboration with a fellow, “big” Lanvin Group brand will drop next fashion month, in September.
On that note, Lanvin is gaining on Wolford. The French brand’s revenue growth in 2022 outpaced its counterparts, seeing a 67% boost year-over-year, largely driven by wholesale revenue. It ended the year at €121.3 million. Wolford’s revenue increased 16%, to €126.6 million.
“We encourage the brands to share their resources and expertise,” Cheng told Glossy in an email correspondence on Friday.
According to Azzazi, that’s indeed happening. “We often share opinions and exchange ideas. There’s constant inspiration, because there are many people across many cultures, with many different experiences,” she said, noting that she’ll be traveling to Shanghai next week for a meeting with global Group partners.
For its part, Lanvin is gunning for younger customers with a large push into accessories, including sneakers and handbags. On Thursday, the brand introduced a handbag within its spring collection of Concerto leather accessories that it’s positioning as Lanvin “icons.” Showing its adherence to the brand’s heritage, the line’s name points to a music favorite of founder Jeanne Lanvin and features hardware inspired by a dress she wore in the 1930s.
Also nodding to its past, Lanvin opened a pop-up installation this week with the legendary French spa Carita Paris, with which has a rich history. On display is a wide range of modern takes on Lanvin’s signature silk charmeuse dresses.
Lanvin will host a Paris Fashion Week runway show on March 5. It launched a TikTok account in November.
Evolving while remaining true to their brand was top-of-mind for all brand executives included in this story. Azzali said Wolford had become “confusing” in the last year. But, by leveraging the brand’s robust archives as a starting place, Takekoshi said he “won’t run out of ideas for the next few decades.” And Lew alluded to the fact that St. John’s former creative director had strayed too far away from the brand’s roots.
Azzali said Wolford’s hosiery, which is now 35% of this business, was formerly more than 50%; bodywear and leggings now make up 40%, with lingerie and beachwear accounting for the balance. And St. John’s “Foundation” category of basics, meant to “decouple the brand from just a suit brand,” now makes up 15% of the business, Lew said. Execs from both brands stressed an increased focus on product comfort.
Attracting a younger generation of luxury customers is a goal of all Lanvin Group brands, Cheng said. And upping the Group’s “digital and omnichannel” prowess is key to getting there. She mentioned that, in the second half of 2022, the Group established a shared Shopify platform in North America, which she expects will “bring further growth to the brands in the coming years.”
Azzali said, currently, 25% of Wolford’s revenue is secured online. And both she and Lew called out the objective of bringing an in-store level of luxury customer service to the digital shopping experience.
Wolford’s spring campaign featuring Jones will be featured across the brand’s digital channels, as well as in its store windows and on a central billboard in Milan. Meanwhile, St. John’s campaign with Rhimes will be promoted via in-home connected TV, Google and YouTube, plus on the brand’s social channels and in its stores. St. John plans to host an event with Rhimes in late March.
“We want to maximize the spaces we know well, while also testing other [platforms] where we believe the campaign will resonate well with Shonda’s audience,” Lew said.
Finally, in keeping with their “modern” play, Lanvin Group executives are considering brand values.
Lew called St. John’s campaign “a values campaign,” as, “In the videos, Shonda is speaking about how to deal with the pressures of being a female entrepreneur, executive and successful person.” Past faces of the brand have included Angelina Jolie and Kate Winslet.
As for Wolford, Azzali said, “Everybody’s speaking about sustainability, and what’s more sustainable [in fashion] than very high quality [pieces] paired with timeless design?”