By Claire Kalikman
Stella McCartney recently announced that she will be buying back the 50% stake of her namesake brand Kering acquired in 2001.
Neither company would explicitly state why. Part of the reason on McCartney’s part seems to be to regain full control of her name (Stella McCartney is the only brand Kering owns still run by its namesake, except Christopher Kane). Kering is streamlining its business to focus on its best-selling brands, Gucci, Saint Laurent, and the smaller but headline-dominating Balenciaga. It is also focusing on becoming a pure-luxury company.
There are many positive and negative sides to brands being acquired by powerhouses such as Kering, or its competitors LVMH and Richemont. Smaller companies gain access to better distribution, more stability, shared logistics, and experts in the industry. Creative minds can also focus on the design work as they are paired with business executives who take control of the financial aspect of the company. They can also collaborate on bigger projects, as McCartney did on Kering’s sustainability initiative. Downsides include company politics and internal competition. But perhaps the worst aspect for designers is the loss of complete creative freedom - dismantling of the brand’s DNA, and often not being able to take risks in design.
Kering CEO and fashion superstar François Henri-Pinault has said: “One of our key assumptions is that a brand cannot cover all segments in terms of price or style. When we think about an acquisition, we try to make sure the brand fulfills a clear mission within our group and matches a distinct segment of the market.” But McCartney is trying to do just that- cover every segment of the market- so perhaps that was a point of contention. Beyond high fashion, McCartney has undertaken endeavours such as a hugely successful athletic line, a kids line, collaboration with H & M and Target, costume design, and fine artist collaborations. She has done all this while promoting her fierce belief in animal rights, a central tenet of her brand. Perhaps she found Kering too limited; perhaps she didn’t fit their idea of luxury.
(Title image via South China Morning Post)