Bernard Arnault is currently the richest person in fashion with an estimated fortune in excess of $92 billion (as of June 2019) according to Forbes. He heads the LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE group that is headquartered in Paris.
The LVMH group is the largest luxury goods company in the world and vaunts a number of the worlds most prestigious brands such as: Louis Vuitton, Hennessy, Dior, Bvlgari, Tag Heuer, Krug, Fendi and a plethora of others.
After working with his father Jean Leon Arnault in the family construction business, which was called Ferret-Savinel, Bernard saw an opportunity to grow and divert the business into a new direction. He formed the LVMH group in 1987 with co-founder Alain Chevalier. During the 1990s the group acquired a number of companies to grow into the giant that it is today.
The LVMH group operates loosely around 6 areas
- Wines and Spirits
- Selective retailing
- Fashion and Leather Goods
- Watches and Jewellery
- Perfumes and Cosmetics
- Other (including hotels, financial press, shipyards etc.)
Arnault still believes that there is a long way to go for the LVMH group and his daughter Delphine is the executive vice president of the LVMH group.
The group has pivoted direction as the economic climate of the last couple of decades has seen a shift in the luxury goods market. The rise of both the Chinese middle-class consumer and the changes in perception towards urban street wear fashion has created two large new previously untapped markets.
Of the LVMH brands Kendo Holdings has recently collaborated with the performer Rihanna with her Fenty Beauty cosmetics company. LVMH would have been aware that according to Forbes the world’s youngest self-made billionaire is Kylie Jenner who leveraged her popularity and accessibility on social media to a younger demographic to build brand worth $1 billion for her Kylie Cosmetics company.
Louis Vuitton have hired the controversial designer Virgil Abloh as their artistic director in 2018. Abloh has received a large amount of criticism for his lack of technical ability and skill. At the same time he is a marketing genius who understands how to sell an idea. Time magazine named him as one of the most influential people in the world in that same year.
Louis Vuitton have also collaborated with Supreme, a brand that is now valued at over $1 billion, which started off as a skateboarding clothing shop started by James Jebbia in 1994. Their use of scarcity and collaboration created a mystic around the brand and for the young people at that time who bought supreme it was the furthest thing away from Louis Vuitton that one could wish for. In fact, in the 1990s many Supreme wearing youths would be refused entry to a Louis Vuitton store.
We have briefly looked at how the change in perception has occurred, and we will go into depth about luxury fashion in the future.
For now Arnault has positioned his brands wonderfully to take advantage of societal changes and trends and only time will tell how things will develop for the future.