Backstage at Jil Sander RTW Fall 2018

PARIS — Franco Penè, the Italian executive who has manufactured and distributed ready-to-wear and footwear for brands such as Paul Smith, Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors, is retiring as president of Onward Luxury Group, formerly known as Gibò.

He is succeeded by Takehiro Shiraishi, who has been named head of European operations for Onward Luxury Group, Penè said, confirming a report on Fashion Network.

Penè, who becomes honorary chairman of the group’s European operations, said the handover has been a year in the making and allows him to “take my freedom” and step back from operational duties. A staple of fashion front rows for several decades, he plans to spend more time with his family.

Known for his role in promoting emerging designers, Penè has been cited as playing a role in promoting a range of designers over the years, including Stella McCartney, Jean Paul Gaultier and the late Alexander McQueen.

Under his management, Gibò built and distributed brands including Antonio Berardi, Michael Kors, Viktor & Rolf and Hussein Chalayan.

Parent company Onward Holdings controls several fashion labels, including Jil Sander, Joseph

, J. Press and leather goods maker Moreau Paris. It also holds a stake in luxury footwear label Charlotte Olympia.

Last year, when explaining the reasons behind Onward Luxury’s separation with Veronique Branquinho, Penè told WWD in an interview that the mutual decision with Branquinho was taken in the context of challenging times for fashion brands.

“Everything is so difficult because fashion is changing,” said Penè at the time. “Distribution is changing: You can see how e-commerce is growing, physical distribution is suffering, the big brands are restructuring their retail operations. We have see-now-buy-now. It’s a world that is completely different from a few years ago.”

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