LVMH adds Off-White to its brand portfolio after the French luxury house agreed on Tuesday to take a 60% stake in Off-White LLC. The Milan-based New Guards group, licensee of the brand, will remain an operational partner.
Founder Virgil Abloh will retain his duties as Creative Director, in addition to his contractual duties as artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear.
Although the terms of the deal have not been disclosed, LVMH and Abloh will look to develop and launch new brands, likely in the luxury streetwear fashion arena. Off-White has the potential to grow significantly, expanding into categories such as housewares, beauty, and fragrances.
In an interview with The New York Times, Abloh confirmed he will take on a larger role within LVMH, bringing a diverse voice to his portfolio of brands. “I’m going to sit at the table,” Mr. Abloh said.
“We are not trying to emulate a model that already exists,” said Michael Burke, general manager of Louis Vuitton, of Mr. Abloh’s new role to the NY Times. “It’s more like what Bernard Arnault did when he bought Dior and decided to create a federation of luxury brands.
On the road to inclusiveness
LVMH, despite its commitment to diversity, operates with an all-Caucasian board of directors and executive committee. The company made history when in 2018 it appointed Abloh artistic director of men’s fashion Louis Vuitton, making him the very first black designer to lead a French luxury brand. In a Financial Times ranking of the most inclusive companies in Europe in 2020, valued by 100,000 employees in 15,000 companies, LVMH failed to make the top 850, against Louis Vuitton at 16.
LVMH in the midst of a wave of acquisitions
LVMH has been very busy lately, confirming last week a 20% stake in Phoebe Philo’s new label, as well as L Catterton, LVMH’s consumer-focused private equity firm, taking the majority stake in the company. ‘Etro Europe. In April, L Catterton finalized its takeover of German shoemaker Birkenstock. In Paris, the La Samaritaine department store reopened with great fanfare in June, after the titanic restoration of LVMH (750 million euros) which lasted several years.
LVMH is used to taking stakes in brands founded by creators who creatively run its heritage brands, including Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, John Galliano at Dior and JW Anderson at Loewe.
Off-White has often been plagued with copying from designers, which Abloh in an interview with 032c said “In postmodern order [that is fashion], being “original” seems to be the thing that matters the least. He reiterated this to the NY Times: “Relevance is my metric. “