Demna Gvasalia and Francois-Henri Pinault


WHAT’S IN A NAME?:  “It was his choice,” said François-Henri Pinault of Demna Gvasalia’s fresh takes on the Kering logo, which came plastered across sweatshirts or across the back of a long puffer jacket. “He asked me beforehand if he could do it, and I said I respect a designer’s creative choices.”

The sweatshirts came layered over plaid tops and were branded Kering or Balenciaga, while a long puffer coat had a made-up Kering logo at the back, a Seventies corporate America swirl, something Amway or State Farm would have chosen.

Models also carried handfuls of Balenciaga shopping bags in the show, which was inspired by traditional corporate dressing and, judging by the smile on his face when the models passed, Pinault was clearly amused by all the Kering and Balenciaga publicity.

The Kering chief executive officer wouldn’t expand on the performance of the Balenciaga business due to a blackout period (the company releases its 2016 full-year results on Feb. 10) but said 2016 was “fine” and he was optimistic about the current year. Last year, he told analysts that it was not the time to build new stores, but to make the current retail portfolio more productive. Asked about his efforts, he said stores need to be proactive about getting in touch with consumers and finding new ways of interacting with them.

Pinault is not the only brand leader thinking of new ways to make brick-and-mortar work in a world where consumers are buying online, shunning traditional stores and looking for experiences when they shop. On Wednesday, Burberry said it has been training its sales assistants to reach out to customers more and cultivate relationships. The strategy appears to be paying off: In the third quarter, the brand said it saw a double-digit uplift in spend from returning customers.

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