While big, flashy designer investments like Kering's minority stake in Altuzarra and LVMH's very recent investment in J.W. Anderson make regular headlines, there's one mogul's acquisition spree that's been flying under the radar—until now.
The name Arnaud de Lummen may not make you jump to attention (like say, Bernard Arnault or François-Henri Pinault), but you may want to add him to the growing list of fashion tycoons. Yesterday's Financial Times put a spotlight on the Harvard Law School grad, who--at the age of 36, mind you--had the enterprising idea to start buying up 16 sidelined yet revered old school fashion houses to return them to their former glory, and eventually, sell them off and make a fortune.
The big names amongst his stable of brands include Paul Poiret and Mainbocher, who gained fame for designing the Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson's wedding dress.
According to the FT, de Lummen's business philosophy is that "reviving an old name that retains its recognition value is simpler than launching a new one."
"Brands can go dormant but they do not necessarily lose their value,” Mr. de Lummen says. “Some are too old-fashioned, but there are some that are timeless.”
Very true, considering that Loewe was founded in 1846, Louis Vuitton in 1854, and Balenciaga, 1918--and they're all just as headline-making (and successful) today.
De Lummen has prior success under his belt to show, too. He came on board to help in the re-growth of the Vionnet after his father purchased the house in the '80s. He's credited for bringing Sophia Kokosalaki on board for a renowned collection in 2007 and convincing Barneys to commit to buying $2 million worth of Vionnet merch a year. (The de Lummens eventually sold the brand to former Valentino chairman--and alleged tax evader--Matteo Marzotto, who then sold it to the current owner, billionaire Goga Ashkenazi.)
We'll be keeping an eye out for Mainbocher and Paul Poiret developments (as well as labels including shoe maker Herbert Levine and bag maker Belber)—after all, there are plenty of young designers out there looking for a job.