LEADERS

Keeping in the Family

by

Libby Banks

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This is the featured image caption
Credit: This is the featured image credit

Jean-Louis Dumas’ untimely death has raised questions about how long Hermès will remain a family affair

Over the last decade, collaborations between luxury brands and contemporary artists have gone beyond mere artistic partnerships towards a new kind of luxury branding.

PARIS – Art and fashion have always developed side by side, for fashion, like art, often gives visual expression to the cultural zeitgeist. During the 1920s, Salvador Dalí created dresses for Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiapparelli. In the 1930s, Ferragamo’s shoes commissioned designs for advertisements from Futurist painter Lucio Venna, while Gianni Versace commissioned works from artists such as Alighiero Boetti and Roy Lichtenstein for the launch of his collections. Yves Saint Laurent’s vast art collection, recently auctioned at Christie’s in Paris, testified to his great love of art and revealed the influence of a variety of artists on his own designs.

In the 1980s, relationships between luxury brands and artists were advanced when Alain Dominique Perrin created the Fondation Cartier. In the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, a book marking the foundation’s 20th anniversary, Perrin says he makes “a connection between all the different sorts of arts, and luxury goods are a kind of art. Luxury goods are handicrafts of art, applied art.”

The Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemparain building in Paris

Jean-Louis Dumas’ untimely death has raised questions about how long Hermès will remain a family affair

News that Hermès produced some of the best Q1 sales results of luxury sector was overshadowed by the death of its former president and chief executive office the former president and chief executive office Jean-Louis Dumas. As the industry mourns the loss of the man that made Hermès a global brand, turning over €1.9 billion in 2009 with wide-ranging interests, the stock market has been speculating on the future of the company.

Hermès position is certainly strong; sales in the Asia-Pacific regions (excluding Japan) jumped 45% in the first quarter. But, to the envy of many competitors, its growth also came from established markets. Sales were up 15% in Europe and 20% in the Americas, where the company opened its first men’s-only store in New York in February.

Such is the perverse nature of business, news of Dumas’ death pushed Hermès stock skyward, as speculation gathered – once again – that the company is a takeover target. This is despite repeated denials from the family. Antoine Belge, an analyst at HSBC in Paris who specialises in the luxury sector echoed this, arguing that the family is still committed to keeping the company independent. It’s certainly not done them any harm. As a family-owned business Hermès has the luxury of taking risks when it wants to – such as buying Shang Xia or its share of Leica – and staying steadfast elsewhere, as shown by its refusal to bow down to pressure for more accessible price points. Although led by outsider Patrick Thomas, this unique approach is enabled by its family-owned status and a fundamental part of the company’s DNA.

But as it remains in an ever-decreasing minority of sizeable family-owned luxury businesses, it’s difficult not to wonder just how long it will take before the stock market’s wishful thinking turns into a bona fide takeover. And if and when this does happen, let’s hope that Hermès is allowed to continue to be one of luxury’s quiet renegades.

Sources
Business Week – 7 May 10
Reuters – 6 May 10
The Independent – 2 May 10

Libby Banks
Libby Banks

Associate Editor

Bio Not Found

LEADERS

Keeping in the Family

by

Libby Banks

|

This is the featured image caption
Credit : This is the featured image credit

Jean-Louis Dumas’ untimely death has raised questions about how long Hermès will remain a family affair

Over the last decade, collaborations between luxury brands and contemporary artists have gone beyond mere artistic partnerships towards a new kind of luxury branding.

PARIS – Art and fashion have always developed side by side, for fashion, like art, often gives visual expression to the cultural zeitgeist. During the 1920s, Salvador Dalí created dresses for Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiapparelli. In the 1930s, Ferragamo’s shoes commissioned designs for advertisements from Futurist painter Lucio Venna, while Gianni Versace commissioned works from artists such as Alighiero Boetti and Roy Lichtenstein for the launch of his collections. Yves Saint Laurent’s vast art collection, recently auctioned at Christie’s in Paris, testified to his great love of art and revealed the influence of a variety of artists on his own designs.

In the 1980s, relationships between luxury brands and artists were advanced when Alain Dominique Perrin created the Fondation Cartier. In the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, a book marking the foundation’s 20th anniversary, Perrin says he makes “a connection between all the different sorts of arts, and luxury goods are a kind of art. Luxury goods are handicrafts of art, applied art.”

The Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemparain building in Paris

Jean-Louis Dumas’ untimely death has raised questions about how long Hermès will remain a family affair

News that Hermès produced some of the best Q1 sales results of luxury sector was overshadowed by the death of its former president and chief executive office the former president and chief executive office Jean-Louis Dumas. As the industry mourns the loss of the man that made Hermès a global brand, turning over €1.9 billion in 2009 with wide-ranging interests, the stock market has been speculating on the future of the company.

Hermès position is certainly strong; sales in the Asia-Pacific regions (excluding Japan) jumped 45% in the first quarter. But, to the envy of many competitors, its growth also came from established markets. Sales were up 15% in Europe and 20% in the Americas, where the company opened its first men’s-only store in New York in February.

Such is the perverse nature of business, news of Dumas’ death pushed Hermès stock skyward, as speculation gathered – once again – that the company is a takeover target. This is despite repeated denials from the family. Antoine Belge, an analyst at HSBC in Paris who specialises in the luxury sector echoed this, arguing that the family is still committed to keeping the company independent. It’s certainly not done them any harm. As a family-owned business Hermès has the luxury of taking risks when it wants to – such as buying Shang Xia or its share of Leica – and staying steadfast elsewhere, as shown by its refusal to bow down to pressure for more accessible price points. Although led by outsider Patrick Thomas, this unique approach is enabled by its family-owned status and a fundamental part of the company’s DNA.

But as it remains in an ever-decreasing minority of sizeable family-owned luxury businesses, it’s difficult not to wonder just how long it will take before the stock market’s wishful thinking turns into a bona fide takeover. And if and when this does happen, let’s hope that Hermès is allowed to continue to be one of luxury’s quiet renegades.

Sources
Business Week – 7 May 10
Reuters – 6 May 10
The Independent – 2 May 10

Libby Banks
Libby Banks

Associate Editor

Bio Not Found

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