There has been nearly relentless talk over the past year or so that tied together Virgil Abloh and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. While we recently learned that the Off-White creative will succeed Kim Jones in the menswear division of LVMH’s marquee brand, the buzzy creative was tapped for an LVMH-related project even before that: an collaboration between LVMH-owned Rimowa and Abloh’s own label, Off-White. Spearheading the collab is none other than LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault’s son Alexandre Arnault, who is co-CEO of the the German luggage brand, and (arguably) the biggest rising star of the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate.
Since taking the co-CEO role at Rimowa in October 2016 alongside Dieter Morszeck, the grandson of Paul Morszeck, the luggage company’s founder, Mr. Arnault, 25, has been busy overseeing an revamp of Rimowa. Together, the two have been enacting widespread change for the premium luggage label, from restructuring its distribution network and reworking the layouts of its stores to expanding the breadth of its collaborations and refining the nature of its branding.
In addition to a buzzy Off-White collab, Arnault’s inherently millennial touch has also facilitated a collaboration between the luggage maker and cult streetwear/skatewear brand Supreme, which is expected to launch as soon as April 12th and comes on the heels of the buzzy collab that saw Supreme partner with Louis Vuitton last year.
Nepotistic concerns aside (that is an easy and cheap shot to make), and more interesting than any individual collaboration or store layout, however, is the young Arnault, himself. One of three of Bernard Arnault’s five children already in senior positions in LVMH, Alexandre has already managed to make an impact in his time since joining the family business.
As the Financial Times noted, “From [Bernard] Arnault’s first marriage, Delphine is number two at Louis Vuitton and her brother Antoine is chief executive of Berluti and chairman of Loro Piana … And then there are the three sons from Mr. Arnault’s second marriage — the two eldest have been brought into the family business. Alexandre helped source LVMH’s acquisition of a majority stake in German luggage maker Rimowa, where he is now co-chief executive.”
Since setting his sights on working for his father’s conglomerate, Alexandre has largely focusing his efforts on bringing youthful relevance to the LVMH empire — efforts that predate his appointment and hype-centric Rimowa collaborations by several years, and it is working.
Think back to March 2015, for instance, when Paris-based LVMH — which in addition to Louis Vuitton and Rimowa, also owns Givenchy, Celine, Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs, and Emilio Pucci, among other brands — made headlines for pulling off four surprise concerts during the Fall/Winter 2015 womenswear shows in Paris, starring Kanye West. Who made these noteworthy events happen? Arnault, then just 22.
According to reports, Arnault and West initially met at a Givenchy show several years prior, and Arnault reportedly organized the sold-out shows, which took place at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, in a span of two days. But Bernard Arnult’s middle son’s (his two older half siblings, Delphine and Antoine also work in different capacities at LVMH brands) efforts to inject youth into the business, some of whose brands date back over two centuries, are not limited to one-off concerts.
It is said to be at the urging of Arnault that LVMH brought Ian Rogers on board as its Chief Digital Officer. It is now – or has been since he joined in 2015 from Apple – the job of Rogers, a former music industry executive, to “drag historic luxury houses such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Fendi, Loewe and Rimowa into the digital commerce realm,” as the AFR so aptly put it. This has consisted of spearheading the launch of 24 Sèvres, LVMH’s shopping website and mobile app.
As for Arnualt’s own career trajectory, he is now just a year into his tenure as co-CEO of Rimowa, which was brought under the LVMH ownership umbrella last October. As noted by the Financial Times, “People close to LVMH said that it was Alexandre Arnault who first spotted the potential as an acquisition target of Rimowa, which was established in 1898. They added that he was the first one to reach out to Dieter Morszeck, the grandson of the German group’s founder, who will retain a stake in the business and become co-chief executive alongside Arnault.”
In light of Alexandre’s role as LVMH’s secret weapon in terms of modernization of the group, and given his own description of himself as a “technology freak,” it is likely just a matter of time before he lands at a more senior brand at LVMH, on his way to the very top, of course.