Givenchy opened its first American store earlier this year, and it takes the form a 3100 square foot space in the Esplanade at the Wynn Las Vegas. You may recall that the Paris-based design house operated a New York City flagship until 2008, and has been absent from U.S. real estate since. Now the Paris-based brand has another big opening on the horizon, its flagship at 747 Madison Avenue at 65th Street in New York, and to properly launch that space, Givenchy will stage the its Spring 2016 show during New York Fashion Week.
Sure, it is newsworthy that Givenchy is slowly expanding with U.S. real estate; it currently maintains a store in the Miami Design District, and according to chief executive Philippe Fortunato, there are plans to expand in Florida next year with a unit in the Aventura Mall, as well as in California — likely Orange County's South Coast Plaza first, followed by Beverly Hills. But the opening of these domestic stores actually marks a much bigger initiative of the brand: Taking the U.S. (and well, the world, in general) by storm. In 2012, Givenchy welcomed Sebastian Shun, formerly of Prada, as CEO. Under the momentum established by Suhl (who has since decamped to fellow LVMH-owned brand, Marc Jacobs), Givenchy is set to open a large number of boutiques this year; this count includes the Vegas store and the recently-opened Seoul flagship. Then, in January, the Paris-based design house, which is owned by LVMH and under the creative direction of Riccardo Tisci, appointed Devon Pike as its first-ever U.S. president.
Givenchy's Las Vegas boutique came on the heels of the opening of the brand’s 4,000 sq ft flagship on Avenue Montaigne in Paris late last year. Additional stores are expected to open in London, Rome, Milan and Tokyo, among other locales - where the house currently stocks thanks to its international network of 800+ stockists. With the backing of LVMH and a relatively recent push to take the house to the next level, it seems we have another major international design house in the making. As for whether Givenchy could ever truly rival Louis Vuitton, that is a difficult prediction, as the two houses are quite different not only in age and current level of profitability, but also in terms of how got their respective starts.
Louis Vuitton was founded in 1854, and Givenchy, about a hundred years later, in 1952. As you likely know, Louis Vuitton was, for the vast majority of its existence, solely a luggage and leather accessories brand. It was not until Marc Jacobs came along in 1997 (when Louis Vuitton was 143 years old) that a men's and women's ready-to-wear collection was born.
Givenchy, on the other hand, has always been firmly grounded in fashion. In fact, the house, which turned 50 in 2012, was launched as a couture house. The late Hubert de Givenchy, who is most commonly referred to as a "Spanish master", was actually the youngest couturier in Paris at the time and did not begin designing a prêt-à-porter collection until 1954, and only subsequently thereafter, debuted a men's collection. LVMH acquired Givenchy in 1988, and went through a string of creative directors (think: John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, and Julien Macdonald) before finding peace with Riccardo Tisci, a far cry from the aristocratic founder, but a designer who has demonstrated an other worldly talent for couture, as well as a passion for street wear, as evidence by the Watch the Throne tour wardrobe he created and the many iterations of printed t-shirt designs.
In terms of profitability, the two houses differ quite a bit, as well. As of last year, Louis Vuitton was reportedly raking in annual sales of nearly $9 billion and more than half of LVMH’s operating profits, according to the New York Times. Analysts predict that Givenchy posted 2013 revenues of upwards of $220 million, reaching half a billion within the next few years, certainly an ode to Tisci's introduction of more wearable, accessible pieces, such as luxury sweatshirts and "it" bags - things that did not really exist, certainly not in the case of the former, prior to his ongoing tenure.
Keeping with annual revenue, the $220 million figure situates Givenchy behind Dior, which likely represents the number two post in LVMH's top earning fashion brands. For the 12 months ending April 30, 2013, Dior reported roughly $40 million in revenue. More recently, in the fiscal period from July 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014, Dior reported nearly $33 million in revenue. This puts Givenchy in at least the fifth position, as we must account for Fendi (which reportedly brings in about $ 1.1 billion annually), as well as Marc Jacobs, the brand (not the designer), which is owned by LVMH. LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault, said late last year that "the totality of sales [for the Marc Jacobs brand] is approaching $1 billion." No word on what position Céline occupies.
One thing that Givenchy does have on its side, that some of the bigger subsidiaries have recently struggled with: Growth. LVMH Chief Financial Officer Jean-Jacques Guiony said Louis Vuitton’s individual growth in the first quarter of 2014 "was close to that of the division, or 9 percent [the division's organic growth for the first quarter], up from an estimated growth of 3.5-4 percent overall in 2013 and 5 percent in the fourth quarter." While individual figures were not released for Givenchy, according to LVMH's 2013 Annual Report, "Givenchy saw strong revenue growth thanks to solid performance across all product categories, especially in its directly owned stores … Céline, Kenzo, Givenchy and Berluti confirmed their potential, delivering double-digit growth." While Louis Vuitton has been struggling tremendously over the past several quarters to report any noteworthy growth, Givenchy is not plagued by the same logo-fatigue and over-exposure as its older counterpart.
So, while Givenchy certainly has a ways to go before it reaches Louis Vuitton's level, it if ever does so, the future seems pretty promising.
IMAGE COURTESY OF GIVENCHY.