LONDON, United Kingdom — “Before the re-launch we had a very small footwear business. Now Saint Laurent is one of our top ten [brands] at Barneys,” said Daniella Vitale, chief operating officer and senior executive vice president of Barneys New York. “We took a very big risk, without any history, but Saint Laurent has been such a huge success for us and a fantastic return on our investment.”

Vitale’s experience is far from unique. “We’ve seen triple-digit growth for Lane Crawford stores,” said Lianna Mann, vice president of womenswear, home and jewellery at the Chinese department store group, commenting on the success of their Saint Laurent business since the appointment of Hedi Slimane as creative director in March 2012.

“The rise of our business with Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent can only be described as meteoric,” added Justin O’Shea, buying director of European luxury e-tailer MyTheresa.com, owned by Neiman Marcus.

From the ashes of an incendiary debut, which sharply divided the industry due to the heavy handling of the house’s rebrand (which saw the first name of the house’s celebrated founder, ‘Yves,’ stripped from the company’s ready-to-wear line), Hedi Slimane has led the house to spectacular results. In the three years since he took the creative reins, the brand has more than doubled annual sales revenue to €707 million in 2014 (about $787 million), up from €353 million in 2011.

So what’s the formula to Slimane’s success?

“While much of what’s talked about around the label focuses on the message and the mood, for us the focus remains on the product. It appeals to a much wider demographic than much of the fashion press would have people believe,” said Judd Crane, director of womenswear and accessories at London department store Selfridges.

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Source: BoF
Photo: BoF