PARIS — Sportswear brand Puma AG on Thursday named Cyprus-born designer Hussein Chalayan as its creative director and acquired a majority stake in his signature fashion brand, confirming a report in WWD.
Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. The announcement came a day after the London-based designer unveiled his fall women's wear collection here.
"Hussein Chalayan is a proven visionary in the fashion industry," Jochen Zeitz, chairman and chief executive officer of Herzogenaurach, Germany-based Puma, said at a press conference here Thursday. "As creative director, he will bring use of new technology, forward-thinking design and a provocative point of view to Puma."
Chalayan becomes Puma's first creative director, according to Zeitz, as well as the first fashion designer to be appointed as creative director of a major sports label. Last year, retail and luxury conglomerate PPR purchased a 62.1 percent stake in Puma.
"Acquiring majority shares of the Hussein Chalayan brand is giving Puma the ability to move into a new space, expanding our reach to become the most desirable sports lifestyle company in the world," Zeitz said, noting that the designer retains a substantial share in his namesake company.
Last week, Puma, Europe's second largest sporting goods brand after Adidas, reported that full-year earnings increased 2.2 percent to 269 million euros, or $371 million, on sales that rose 0.2 percent to 2.37 billion euros, or $3.28 billion.
This is not the first time Puma has ventured into the fashion arena.
According to Zeitz, Puma's collaboration with Jil Sander 10 years ago was the first between a sports label and a fashion designer — ahead of rival Adidas' Y-3 collaboration with Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto. "[Puma] was the first to use the word 'fashion' in our strategy and to do collaborations with designers such as Jil Sander and Neil Barrett," Zeitz said.
The company has since tied up with high-end designers such as Alexander McQueen and Philippe Starck. Puma also boasts a cobranded shoe collection with Italian motorcycle maker Ducati Motor Holding SpA, and last year it tapped Dutch designer Marcel Wanders to create an accessories line. It also has a denim collaboration with Hong Kong-based Evisu and produces jeans in-house as part of a new lifestyle subbrand, dubbed Dassler.Zeitz said the partnership with Chalayan brings its fashion involvement to the next level. "This is not a collaboration; this is a long-term partnership. He is part of our business and we are part of his," said Zeitz.
"This isn't a short-term relationship; this is a marriage," agreed Chalayan. "Combining Puma's infrastructure and technological platform with PPR facilities, we will be able to turn experimental ideas into reality, both for the Puma and Chalayan lines. Hopefully people will have the means to access real products evolving from our process rather than only seeing them in shows and events."
Effective immediately, Chalayan will take on the creative mantle designing all product categories — footwear, apparel and accessories — for Puma's Sport Fashion and lifestyle categories. The collections, which will be positioned at a premium price point for the sportswear category, will be sold through select Puma stores, key concept stores and shop-in-shops worldwide.
"My way of thinking is very appropriate for sports," offered Chalayan. "There is something in sportswear that is less transient than in fashion. You are constantly building and developing products and technology."
Zeitz said he hoped the deal would boost Puma's apparel business, which today is led by the brand's footwear sales. For 2007, Puma sales in the footwear segment increased 1.9 percent to 1.48 billion euros, or $2.02 billion at average exchange, while apparel sales increased by 5.7 percent to 998.7 million euros, or $1.37 billion.
Puma also will help to build Chalayan's business internationally, according to Zeitz. "The time has come now for [Chalayan] to fully expand his potential and build his brand. It is the best opportunity [for Chalayan] to evolve in a retail environment," Zeitz said.
Zeitz did not rule out building stand-alone Hussein Chalayan stores in the future, but said the company would aim to grow via wholesale channels in the short to medium term.
"His line will be sold at top accounts. We will build a viable business model before venturing into other channels," Zeitz said. Chalayan agreed. "We want to become a global brand, but gradually, in a healthy way," the designer said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast