Zuhair Murad Couture Spring 2017

PARIS — Zuhair Murad has appointed Alessandro Cremonesi chief executive officer of its ready-to-wear and accessories divisions. The former Jil Sander ceo joined the house in May.

The move marks a concerted rtw push under way by the Lebanese couture house which, according to Cremonesi, has opened a new “organizational structure” in Lugano, Switzerland, with a new design team in place, offices and a logistics center.

“They will handle all of the process from the commercial and operational to the logistics side. We will be improving dramatically the quality of service on a worldwide basis because our target is to be an international brand,” said Cremonesi. The brand has also recruited a new commercial director and merchandiser who have previously worked on the teams of Bottega Veneta and Alexander McQueen, he said.

The brand will still be manufacturing in Lebanon and Italy, depending on the category, added Cremonesi, who is exploring opportunities with partners to develop licenses for categories, including fragrances and eyewear.

“We are working on a development plan that will be completed around September.”

Of the rtw line, Cremonesi said the aim is to stay true to the house’s haute couture DNA in terms of “references and heritage,” “but we do believe that the feeling, the look and experience that you get with Zuhair Murad couture could be expanded in a very subtle way to a ready-to-wear collection.”

“It will be a challenge, it’s a competitive market, and one that we understand well, with the competing channels between online and retail, but we are experiencing very good results with online sales. We are partnering with Net-a-porter on a worldwide basis and all the major retailers, and at price points that are really surprising,” he said.

The brand’s first market is the Middle East, followed by the U.S., and the plan is to strengthen the European market and some areas of the Far East.

“One thing about the reach of the brand that I found astonishing is that it has 4.4 million Instagram followers. The potential that Zuhair Murad has in terms of the appreciation of the brand is incredible, and the demographic of those followers is in the 25- to 35-[year-old] age bracket,” added Cremonesi.

“We do believe that with the aspirational dimension of haute couture with that age bracket, and the power of the consumption of those consumers, there is a huge opportunity for development.”

In terms of stores, Zuhair Murad has a Paris flagship, a corner in Harrods, and a franchise store in Kuwait, and counts around 70 wholesale accounts. The brand is already scouting a location for its first rtw flagship in Paris, Cremonesi said.

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