LVMH is looking beyond its arsenal of luxury stalwarts, like Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton, to start-ups and more niche brands as a means of getting a more secure hold on all aspects of the luxury market. To date, this has seen the Paris-based luxury goods conglomerate partner with “premium sneaker + streetwear marketplace” seller Stadium Goods, enabling LVMH to tap into the hype of such resellers, while helping the New York-based business to fund future expansion.
The Stadium Goods deal is the first investment for the conglomerate’s LVMH Luxury Ventures, a subsidiary for the purpose of investing in emerging-stage fashion, cosmetics or accessories companies, that it launched in February 2017. The LVMH Luxury Ventures – which is headed by group deputy-head of mergers and acquisitions Julie Bercovy – will enable LVMH to buy stakes in luxury companies with sales of between 2 million and 5 million euros ($5.4 million) and that show high-growth potential.
In furtherance of its efforts to tap up-and-coming companies, LVMH, which holds the title of the world’s largest luxury goods group, announced the launch of La Maison des Startups, an accelerator initiative, which will be housed in Station F, a "startup megacampus" located in Paris. (As noted by Reuters, Station F was launched last year by French billionaire Xavier Niel, who is the significant other of Delphine Arnault, an executive at Louis Vuitton and daughter of LVMH boss Bernard Arnault).
According to WWD, “Set to host 50 international start-ups yearly in two six-month terms, the program is geared at accelerating collaboration between a curated range of start-ups proposing solutions and services for the luxury market and LVMH’s portfolio of 70 brands. All of the start-ups are already in discussion with, or developing projects with, one or more of the group’s brands.”
The trade publication further notes that over half of the start-up entities that are slated to take part in LVMH’s new program “were identified through the LVMH Innovation Award introduced last year.” The start-ups are expected to extend beyond fashion brands to those innovating in the areas of “artificial intelligence; augmented and virtual reality; e-commerce; blockchain and anti-counterfeiting, and raw materials and sustainability.”
As for who had a strong hand in spearheading the program, it turns out to be 25-year old Alexandre Arnault, the co-CEO of Rimowa, who, per LVMH’s chief digital officer Ian Rogers, was the one who said, “Hey, let’s do something big that gives us a rhythm. Let’s create a moment where we build a relationship with the ones that matter.”
In addition to “workshops, networking sessions and seminars, with personalized coaching and support from in-house experts,” there will also be potential for investment on the table. Groupe Arnault and LVMH Luxury Ventures are open to investing in the start-ups, said Rogers, who, along with Alexandre Arnault, is also involved with Miroslava Duma's similarly-focused Future Tech Lab. Although, he says there are no immediate plans to support the firms financially.