Briefing: November 25, 2022

The biggest fashion industry development this week came from Gucci, which confirmed that creative director Alessandro Michele is out. The announcement comes as Gucci has been lagging in terms of its growth, with Bernstein analysts asserting in a Q3 note that Kering’s biggest brand “continues to be on the back foot,” and stating that in lieu of Michele finding “new creative energy,” Gucci senior management would need to “inject new talent to drive creativity.” The chief creative switch-up coincides with a larger turnaround effort under the watch of a newly appointed design and China management team, which is working on elevate Gucci in the Chinese market, including by way of an expansion of high-end offerings and a beefing up of its seasonal output – Gucci will show 6 collections in 2023.

“Finding a new creative genius won’t be easy,” Reuter’s Lisa Jucca states, and the move “both highlights, and complicates,” Kering chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault’s need to do more M&A.” Since 2010, Kering has closed just 1 deal worth more than €1 billion, its acquisition of eyewear brand Maui Jim. Meanwhile, by the WSJ’s count, rival LVMH spent at least $26 billion to snap up: Bulgari, Loro Piana, Belmond, and Tiffany & Co. Worth noting …

– The Michele announcement follows from reports that Kering had been in the running to acquire Tom Ford – a deal that would have made sense for a few reasons – but was out-bid by Estée Lauder.

– Kering has similarly been touted as the obvious acquirer of Richemont due to the parties’ close and regular collaboration in their eyewear partnership, among other things, but such a deal has not come into fruition. (Kering is the licensee for Cartier’s eyewear.)

From a larger group perspective, Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta have performed well, which should help to keep Kering competitive amid a Gucci revamp, which management has said will take some time.

And speaking of Gucci … it landed in the top 10 of a new list released by UK-based Savoo of the most heavily resold brands. The UK-based voucher and discount sites-owner analyzed the number of listings of 30 top brands across four online resale marketplaces to determine which are the most popular to buy secondhand. While mass-market names like Zara, Nike, adidas, Levi’s, etc. dominated the list, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Chanel rounded out the top 10.

Also on the resale front: One place where consumers will no longer be able to buy or sell pre-owned fast fashion wares is Vestiaire Collective, which announced this week that it “will ban fast fashion” from its site in order to become “the 1st global designer marketplace to take this action.” While Vestiaire calls this a “strategic move in our long-term mission to change the way people consume fashion,” it’ss worth noting that just 5% or so of its stock before the ban was fast fashion items. So, it’s a move that will have little tangible effect on the company (something that companies should be cognizant of in light of rising greenwashing allegations) but enable it to market itself as a leader in the sustainability movement.

LVMH tapped into World Cup buzz this past week, releasing an Annie Leibovitz-shot ad campaign starring soccer stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, which swiftly garnered a combined 72 million “likes” on Instagram – 38 million on Ronaldo’s account, 29 million on Messi’s, and upwards of 5 million on the Louis Vuitton account.

And following from our dive into the Tom Ford, Estée Lauder deal last week, and what it means from a luxury beauty perspective, L’Oreal Groupe announced this week that it is launching Shihyo, a new luxury beauty brand by way of a joint venture with Anchor Equity Partners. Shihyo’s first flagship store will open at The Shilla Seoul Hotel in Korea.

On the litigation front: Patagonia has named Gap in a trademark infringement and dilution suit for allegedly co-opting its Snap-T design.” You can find that complaint here.

In recent deal-making news: Campus Ink closed a $2M round to grow its student athlete merchandise platform. This round – which was led by Chicago’s LightBank with participation from Mark Cuban, Capital Innovators, Connetic Ventures & High Street Equity Partners, among others – follows from Cuban taking a minority stake in the company earlier this year. Campus Ink will use the cash to scale its platform to universities and student athletes around the country.

Campus Ink’s growth coincides with the NCAA’s adoption of an interim policy last year that enables college athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name, image, and likeness for the first time, shedding light on the burgeoning new field of marketing that puts college athletes at the center of campaigns for nationally recognized brands. To date, brands ranging from American Eagle to Tom Brady’s eponymous apparel co. have jumped at the chance to put college athletes in their ad campaigns in an attempt to cater this demographic of consumers.