LONDON — Vivienne Westwood is adding the name of Andreas Kronthaler, her longtime design collaborator and husband, to the label of her main runway collection that she shows during Paris Fashion Week.
This story first appeared in the February 26, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The move comes as the company starts to streamline and clarify its branding and product offer for the industry and the end-consumer, along the lines of what Burberry and Paul Smith have done of late.
Starting with fall 2016, Vivienne Westwood Gold Label will be known as Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood. Kronthaler remains creative director of the company.
“Over the years, Andreas has taken on ever-more responsibility, and I wish this fact to be reflected in public perception,” Westwood said.
The brand is also switching gears and will offer two main lines, Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood. The Anglomania and accessories collections will continue while Red Label will cease to exist. The latter will be folded into the Vivienne Westwood collection.
Westwood has also taken most of its collections in-house, with just a few licenses remaining in Japan. The privately owned company had a consolidated turnover of 100 million euros, or $111 million, last year while retail sales were 300 million euros, or $333 million.
Kronthaler said in an interview that changes had been afoot for the past two years, and it was time for the company to restructure.
“Over the years, we had added all these different lines. There was red carpet, denim, Anglomania and Worlds End. It just became confusing — even to ourselves. So we decided to take this step, and it seemed a very natural one,” he said.
“The messaging is clearer, you are in control and more directly in contact with the consumer. Nowadays, the most perfect thing would be to have only one line. As long as you have a collection that is well structured, that’s all you need. It’s about selling things you love. If you bring this all back in-house, you can do that,” he said.
The brand is also set to open its first Paris store on Rue Saint-Honoré next month — a long-held dream of Kronthaler’s. He said they bought the shop a few years ago, but it took a while to renovate. The new space also houses showrooms — which are already up and running — a press office and a private apartment.
Kronthaler has been designing with Westwood since 1989, a year after he met her in Vienna. At the time she was a professor of fashion at University of Applied Arts Vienna, and he was a student. They have been married since the early Nineties.
Referring to the Paris label’s name change, he said: “It is not a big change to the way we work, but it will bring a new direction, and I am happy and excited for the future,” he said.
Kronthaler added that he had been designing the Gold Label collection for years, so he’s not sure how big a shift anyone will notice on the runway, although there might be “another spirit” to the fall outing.
He added that he and Westwood were watching the gradual shifts to in-season, consumer-facing fashion with great interest. Asked about whether the company would move toward showing more in-season fashion, he said it was something they were mulling.
“I think we are all thinking about it — and how you organize, finance and promote it. It gets you closer to the natural way of buying clothes. I always found it very strange to bring somebody a winter coat in the heat of summer, and if you want a bathing suit for a holiday there aren’t any more in the shop. I also think it’s important that people question what they consume and whether they really need it.
“Things are in motion, and that’s what’s exciting and what keeps fashion alive. We don’t know where it’s all going. I think now, because the ice is broken, anything and everything is possible — and that’s what is so exciting,” Kronthaler said.
Change is certainly in the London air: Last year, both Burberry and Paul Smith revealed they were consolidating their offer.
Burberry now sells under one label and will be showing men’s and women’s in-season runway collections starting September, while Paul Smith now sells a signature collection and a new collection called PS by Paul Smith. He recently said farewell to his longtime Italian licensee Gibò, and took his collections back in house.