There has been nearly relentless talk over the past year or so that ties together Virgil Abloh and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Well, it was recently revealed that such chatter actually stems from an impending collaboration between LVMH-owned Rimowa and Abloh’s brand Off-White. Spearheading the collab: LVMH chairmanBernard Arnault’s son Alexandre Arnault, who is co-CEO of the the German luggage brand.
Mr. Arnault, 25, first hinted at a collab when he posted a photo on his Instagram account of Off-White branded luggage, and the German luggage brand has since confirmed the collab, noting that the which is part of a larger project celebrating the 80th anniversary of its classic aluminum suitcase. Nigo, Carine Roitfeld, David Fincher, Michael Moore, Fan Bingbing, Frédéric Malle, John Nollet, Virgil Abloh, Lykke Li, Yoon Ahn and Massimo Bottura have all personalized Rimowa suitcases for the occasion.
More interesting than the collaboration, however, is the young Arnault, himself, who has already managed to make an impact in his time since joining the family business. Alexandre is one of three of Bernard Arnault’s five children already in senior positions in LVMH.
As the Financial Times noted, "From [Bernard] Arnault’s first marriage, Delphine is number two at Louis Vuitton and her brother Antoine is chief executive of Berluti and chairman of Loro Piana ... And then there are the three sons from Mr. Arnault’s second marriage — the two eldest have been brought into the family business. Alexandre helped source LVMH’s acquisition of a majority stake in German luggage maker Rimowa, where he is now co-chief executive. Frédéric, who [recently] turned 23, is head of connected technology at LVMH’s watchmaker TAG Heuer. Meanwhile the youngest son, Jean, 20, is studying at Imperial College London."
Since setting his sights on working for his father's conglomerate, Alexandre has largely focusing his efforts on bringing youthful relevance to the LVMH empire - efforts that predate the Rimowa and Off-White collaboration by several years.
Think back to March 2015: Paris-based LVMH - which in addition to Louis Vuitton and Rimowa, also owns Givenchy, Celine, Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs, and Emilio Pucci, among other brands - made headlines for pulling off four surprise concerts during the Fall/Winter 2015 womenswear shows in Paris, starring Kanye West. Who made these noteworthy events happen? Arnault, then just 22.
According to reports, Arnault and West initially met at a Givenchy show several years prior, and Arnault reportedly organized the sold-out shows, which took place at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, in a span of two days. But Bernard Arnult's middle son's (his two older half siblings, Delphine and Antoine also work in different capacities at LVMH brands) efforts to inject youth into the business, some of whose brands date back over two centuries, are not limited to one-off concerts.
It is said to be at the urging of Arnault that LVMH brought Ian Rogers on board as its Chief Digital Officer. It is now - or has been since he joined in 2015 from Apple - the job of Rogers, a former music industry executive, to "drag historic luxury houses such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Fendi, Loewe and Rimowa into the digital commerce realm," as the AFR so aptly put it. This has consisted of spearheading the launch of 24 Sèvres, LVMH's shopping website and mobile app.
As for Arnualt's own career trajectory, he is now just a year into his tenure as co-CEO of Rimowa, which was brought under the LVMH ownership umbrella last October. As noted by the Financial Times, "People close to LVMH said that it was Alexandre Arnault who first spotted the potential as an acquisition target of Rimowa, which was established in 1898. They added that he was the first one to reach out to Dieter Morszeck, the grandson of the German group’s founder, who will retain a stake in the business and become co-chief executive alongside Arnault."
In light of Alexandre's role as LVMH's secret weapon in terms of modernization of the group, and given his own description of himself as a “technology freak," it is likely just a matter of time before he lands at a more senior brand at LVMH, on his way to the very top, of course.