PARIS — Signaling challenging market conditions for small-scale fashion brands, Kris Van Assche is to shelve his 10-year-old signature label and focus on his role as creative head of Dior Homme.
Disclosing the development exclusively to WWD via a handwritten letter, Van Assche said that “this wonderful adventure has reached a point where I feel the need to take a break and some distance to better think about how to develop my brand in the future.
“Times are tough for independent labels,” he added.
The shuttering of Van Assche’s business came a day after news broke that Scott Sternberg was closing his Band of Outsiders brand in Los Angeles.
The Belgian Van Assche shipped his signature collection to about 130 doors across 32 countries, with the business concentrated in Asia — mainly Japan and Hong Kong — followed by Europe and North America.
The shutdown leaves a gap in the schedule for the next Men’s Fashion Week in Paris, scheduled for June 24 to June 28, and Van Assche will not produce or distribute his fall collection.
His sole freestanding store, which opened on the Rue Saint Roch in Paris in 2013 in a décor the designer described as “luxurious industrial,” is to go dark shortly.
Known for youthful tailoring and loads of athletic and workwear influences, the Kris Van Assche collection also spanned popular high-top sneakers and backpacks, the latter in collaboration with Eastpak.
In his letter, the designer enumerated his brand’s attributes: “A sense of style, a search for contemporary elegance, a fashion-oriented yet wearable alternative.
“Awaiting the right project for my label, I will now focus on Dior Homme in order to enhance what I have been working on during my first eight years as men’s artistic director for Dior.”
Van Assche has never disclosed the shareholding structure of his Paris-based fashion house, but in his letter said its longevity is due to “the financial support of friends.”
The designer dabbled in women’s wear from 2008 to 2010, but ultimately reverted to a focus on men’s wear, mingling refined tailoring with more technical, street-inspired elements.
A graduate of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Van Assche moved to Paris in 1998 and worked under Hedi Slimane at Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Homme and then Dior Homme, ultimately taking up the design reins at the latter brand in 2007 and ramping up its luxury quotient.