LVMH Buys Nicholas Kirkwood, Eyes J.W. Anderson

LVMH is in talks to buy a stake in British fashion brand J.W. Anderson, a source close to the matter said on Friday after the No.1 luxury goods group revealed today that it is investing in another budding UK label, shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood. The news signals intensifying competition among luxury groups such as LVMH and Kering to invest in fledgling fashion brands and lock in promising designers who could one day work for some of their bigger names.

LVMH, which owns Dior and Louis Vuitton, took a minority stake in young French fashion label Maxime Simoens earlier this year, while Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci owner Kering has invested in British fashion brand Christopher Kane and U.S. brand Altuzarra. "The idea is to invest in new growth opportunities," the source said about LVMH's discussions to invest in J.W. Anderson.

Born in Northern Ireland, Jonathan William Anderson, 29, is known for his urban, androgynous style. He graduated in 2005 from the London College of Fashion where he studied menswear, launched his own label three years later and did a small, one-off collection for Versace's Versus line.

LVMH's efforts to reinforce its stable of hot, young designers come as the group works on turning round its flagship Louis Vuitton brand by improving its offering of leather bags and its market positioning.

LVMH said it had bought a majority stake in Kirkwood, whose stilettos have been worn by celebrities such as Sex and the City actress Sarah Jessica Parker and British model and TV presenter Alexa Chung. The group declined to give financial details but analysts estimate the deal at less than 20 million euros ($27 million). "This acquisition affirms the ongoing commitment of LVMH to nurture talent and creativity, considered as the heart of any success in the industry in which they are leaders," LVMH said in a statement.

Kirkwood will sit alongside the group's other luxury men's label, Berluti, headed by Antoine Arnault, son of LVMH founder and Chief Executive Bernard Arnault, who is developing the brand into a men's ready-to-wear and accessories business and expanding its retail network. Kirkwood, 33, studied fine art at Central Saint Martins college in London. He later learned the craft of shoemaking at London-based Cordwainers College before founding his shoe brand in 2004 together with business partner Christopher Suarez. Kirkwood's collections are already distributed in 150 leading department and specialty stores around the world as well as three flagship stores in London, New York and Las Vegas.