By Lanvin CEO, Jean-Philippe Hecquet
I joined Lanvin months ago, because I think Fosun shares the same important values with me. I see we have many common appreciations. When I met Chairman Guo, I was very impressed by the values he mentioned to me. The true values in life - loyalty, family, ambitions, respect, demanding yet rewarding, as well as always look at things in a very positive way.
I joined Lanvin also because of the brand itself. The icon brand has been running for over 130 years, up and down. It's a little bit like a dusty brand now, might seems being disappeared for a while, but she's always there.
Lanvin tried to recruit me years ago, but I want to make sure we have the right investors, because we need money and time to turn around a brand. Miracle doesn't exist because of nothing. When Fosun met me, I said to myself - Lanvin is a unique and beautiful brand, and Fosun is a beautiful investor behind - they trust the brand and trust me. It was the right moment for me to join.
That was the very reason why I moved to Lanvin, and today I've been working on works for the best performances. It is very important for me to have a connection with the brand. I hear a lot of good advice about the brand from press, from customers, and from department stores. For me, it means there is a chance to be better and to shine again. People are waiting for us to be back and be strong. It provides wonderful challenges.
Earlier in my career, I spent 15 years with LVMH, the best retail company in the luxury industry. I learned a lot in different positions and different countries during that time. One of the experiences that I learned was that, when you want to move to fast fashion or focus on accessories, things will move faster. You'd better have a lighter organization, comparing to the elephant phenomenon but being with a luxury brand.
That's what I'm always saying to my team in Lanvin - We are smaller, and we take advantage of being small. We should be fast, we should be agile and do the things that the big brands cannot do. If you have 500 or 600 stores in the world, you can't move as quickly as Lanvin, which just has 25 stores. We can do more things.
Now we are doing everything ourselves in a smaller company. It's like a rebirth: we need to design how we are going to express ourselves, what the digital experience are, operations, talent organization, etc. Some of the positions even did not exist in Lanvin in the past, and now we are working on them.
I think we are on the right track for digital strategy, especially in Chinese market. For us, we need to bring the brand back to life. Being digital is our critical strategy for recovery. When I say digital, it's more of e-commerce and content on social media, especially in Chinese market. Chinese market is different from European and the U.S. market. We need to position our brand in a smart way, in which show respect to Chinese customer, also could listen to their needs, and their expectations.
Nowadays, people are very well educated in China. They know fashion, and they are very independent. They know what they want to wear and they have seen a lot. They are not loyal to one brand. They pretend to mix brands. Chinese market is very important in our strategy and we are working on that with Fosun Fashion Group.
We will need to improve our social media presence. We know the most important on internet in China is KOL (key opinion leader). We define our online strategy around KOL, around friend and families, help us to communicate for the brand. It's so powerful and influential.
Offline is still very important. In the US and in France we need magazine interviews. But in the U.S. and France market, we also want to be presented with KOL, with friends and families, which should be movie stars or singers.
I think clients are not buying a brand, they aren't buying logos, they are buying the products and an experience. They buy it because they like it. Product should be more important than the brand. Today the customers are more mature. A customer can wear a Chanel bag, have a Lanvin dress, an Armani glasses, they are mixing all several dress. They thought that's the way of expressing who they are. They could present different moment of their life with accessories, and I want our customers to wear Lanvin for special moments in their lives.
We could also dress young customers - 14 or 15 year old or even younger. Millennials is an important target group in our new strategy. I believe with our new Creative Director, Bruno Sialelli, we will have the products for millennials. That's why we've been looking for designers who are able to redefine the brand, to bring the young power in our brand. Our new creative director is young, and he is going to bring youth, more dynamism and joyful coolness to the brand. I'm confident with our products. Once you have the products, you know how to speak to the customers, how to help them to understand that Lanvin is back, and now Lanvin is a cool brand.
We are always thinking about how we could do better and be more accurate when we speak to customers. The designer could be very creative, but we as managers need to help him get on reactions on the new trends, specifically when you want to be a global brand. You could have a different reaction to the trends than other brands in the market. That's very important and that's what we are trying to balance.
What's important for us in 2019? I think it is going back to basics. Let's focus on the key categories. Let's focus on key markets. Luxury brands have changed a lot in the past few years. We are moving on for a very steady, formal type of matured brands. If you don't catch up with the customers' demand with the new generation, you are out of the game. That is a true change.