After much speculation, it’s finally official: PPR has taken a majority stake in the Christopher Kane brand. The deal gives the luxury conglomerate 51 percent ownership of the London label, which launched with womenswear after the designer’s graduation from Central Saint Martins in 2006. In the years since, the Scottish designer has expanded his brand to include menswear, shoes, and accessories, and editors have eaten up every bit, from his iridescent liquid-filled plastic handbags to his iconic gorilla-print T-shirts.
At PPR, the 30-year-old designer joins a roster that includes fellow UK brands Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen, as well as Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Bottega Veneta.
The move is PPR’s latest effort to tap into the next generation of designers, after the controversial signing of 29-year-old Alexander Wang to replace creative director Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga.
Industry analysts estimate the Kane brand to be worth 20 million euros (about $27 million), a number that’s surely to grow with PPR’s backing. In comparison, both the McCartney and McQueen brands pull in about 100 million euros ($134 million) in revenue per year, and WWD estimates that Balenciaga has increased in size more than tenfold since being acquired by PPR in 2001. To raise Kane to those numbers, PPR has planned a number of expansions for the brand, including the label’s first standalone store (likely to open in London in 2014) and an increased focus on accessories and the lucrative Asian market, possibly even a second ready-to-wear line.
At the heart of the deal, PPR brass insists, is the designer’s talent, and the cachet that has built around his name. “Christopher is a truly great talent who has shown a real sense of modernity in the way he mixes elegance and subtle constructions. In just a few years, he has built a very distinctive and exciting brand with a unique DNA,” François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of PPR, said in a statement, stressing that the designer will have room to continue exploring his own creative vision. “Christopher Kane is already established as a luxury label and has a tremendous intrinsic growth potential. We thus have great ambitions for the brand and will enable it to benefit from our expertise and know-how while providing the space for it to further develop its own creative identity.”
For his part, Kane said, “We are very excited and honoured to be partnering with PPR for the next stage of development for our brand. PPR have an incredible reputation for building some of the very best luxury brands in the world. They respect our creative vision and they have the expertise and experience to help us build the Christopher Kane brand globally.”
As the designer moves up to fashion’s next level, expect Kane’s February show in London to be one of the season’s hottest tickets.
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