Berluti, luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton footwear brand, has confirmed the hire of Paris-based designer Haider Ackermann to replace Alessandro Sartori, who left the company to previous employer Ermenegildo Zegna in February. Ackermann, who is known for his super-imposed layers, draping and dark style, will be in change of all creative aspects of Berluti and is expected to give the brand a sharper, more modern fashion edge.
“I am sure that his vision will bring a unique opportunity to Berluti,” said Antoine Arnault, the company’s chief executive, in announcing the news on Thursday.
Colombian-born Ackermann launched his eponymous womenswear brand in 2001 (menswear followed thereafter), which is only distributed through wholesalers and online retailers. Berluti, on the other hand, was founded in 1895 and specializes in 1,500-euro ($1,667) luxury shoes with a peculiar two-tone shine and finish. Berluti has been trying to re-invent itself as an upmarket ready-to-wear brand.
Back in 2011, LVMH had grand ambitions for Berluti, which it aimed to use it as a platform to gain more exposure to what was then a vigorous luxury menswear market, driven by strong Chinese demand. In the past two years, however, the luxury sector has slowed sharply and Chinese men's appetite for luxury shoes and clothes has become much more subdued.
Berluti opened flagships in every major city and invested in its website. Today, it has more than 50 stand-alone stores and is estimated to incur around 50 million euros of losses on a turnover of around 150 million euros ($166.68 million).
Berluti is regarded by the financial community as one of LVMH's weaker brands together with Marc Jacobs. Last year, LVMH announced it would discontinue the Marc by Marc Jacobs line which was more affordable than the Marc Jacobs line and the restructuring dug holes in the company's accounts.
LVMH said this week it did not plan to sell the lossmaking Marc Jacobs company after agreeing to sell Donna Karan International, the parent of New York label DKNY, to U.S. clothing firm G-III Apparel Group for $650 million. LVMH said Berluti's losses had narrowed in the first half but it did not say when it expected it to become profitable.
“I don’t think anyone will be surprised by me being there after the show,” Ackermann said on Thursday. He is slated to make his debut in January 2017 during the Paris men’s wear season.