PARIS — Kenzo’s new chief executive officer is expected to speed the brand’s expansion in China, Japan and the U.S.
“The objective is to really continue the momentum,” said Pierre-Yves Roussel, chairman and ceo of LVMH Fashion Group, who tapped Sylvie Colin to helm the Paris-based fashion house, effective Sept. 25.
She will succeed Eric Marechalle, who becomes ceo of Marc Jacobs International, effective Oct. 1.
Colin joins from the contemporary fashion brand Maje, which belongs to SMCP group.
Over the summer, Kenzo transformed its distribution agreement with Hong Kong-based specialty retailer I.T into a joint venture, which will allow the brand to “scale up” its presence in China, where there already more than 45 Kenzo stores.
“We really believe there is a lot of potential there, given the size of the market and our price point,” Roussel said.
The company is also in the throes of relaunching the brand in Japan, and Colin is to lay the groundwork to open freestanding stores in the U.S. “in the years to come” to build on the wholesale business, he added.
Meanwhile, the brand continues to march across Europe, having opened a boutique in Barcelona earlier this year that Roussel noted is performing strongly.
In an interview, the executive explained how creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, the duo behind Opening Ceremony stores, have orchestrated a youthquake at the brand. Before they arrived in 2011, roughly 70 percent of Kenzo’s customers were over the age of 50. Today, roughly 70 percent are under 30.
The duo has also built the accessories and shoe business to almost 30 percent of revenues, and Roussel spies more growth potential in those categories.
Still, Kenzo’s primary business is ready-to-wear — with substantial unit numbers, given prices in the contemporary zone — which is why he selected Colin, who has experience in marketing, product development and merchandising at a range of French high-street chains.
She started her career in 1987 at Etam, later joined lingerie firm Chantelle and, in 2007, moved over to women’s fashion chain Caroll International, first as deputy managing director and later as ceo. Colin has been ceo of Maje since 2014.
Isabelle Guichot, formerly ceo of Balenciaga, has succeeded her at the management helm of Maje, which is also embarking on a global expansion.
Colin is the third female to arrive at the helm of an LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton fashion house in the past year. Roussel tapped Berluti’s Séverine Merle to succeed Marco Gobbetti at Céline and Pascale Lepoivre, the number-two executive at Céline, to take the helm of Loewe.
Houses under Roussel’s purview include Marc Jacobs, Céline, Givenchy, Kenzo, Loewe, Emilio Pucci, Nicholas Kirkwood and J.W. Anderson.