Lanvin has recruited a seasoned American executive with considerable merchandising muscle to ignite its global growth.
Siddhartha Shukla, most recently chief brand officer of Theory, is to join the French fashion house as deputy general manager effective today.
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Joann Cheng, chairwoman of Lanvin and Lanvin Group, confirmed the appointment exclusively to WWD, hailing Shukla as a “change maker” with “in-depth experience” across the luxury and contemporary segments including marketing initiatives, product innovation and business transformation.
“We really have confidence he will lead the teams to further develop the brand,” she said in an interview over Zoom from her office in Shanghai.
Shukla, 43, had an eight-year career at Theory, rising from chief marketing officer to chief merchandising officer and ultimately chief brand officer.
Prior to that he was vice president of marketing and communications at Reed Krakoff. He started his career in a variety of PR posts in the U.S. at Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci, ultimately moving to Paris to become YSL’s global communications director from 2006 to 2012.
In his new role in Paris, Shukla is to oversee the global development of Lanvin, focusing on business development, product strategy, digital excellence and brand positioning initiatives.
He reports to Cheng, as does his fellow deputy general manager Grace Zhao, who oversees Lanvin’s business in China and the Asia-Pacific region.
Shukla succeeds Arnaud Bazin, who will depart from Lanvin at the end of the year, having spent about 15 months in the role.
Joining Cheng on the Zoom call from New York, Shukla described Lanvin as a “jewel that shines with history, with the story and strength of a woman who founded it over 130 years ago… There’s no brand today that is more exciting for me to unlock the potential of.”
Apart from the growth potential in accessories, “I think Lanvin’s unique opportunity is in ready-to-wear and in scaling ready-to-wear,” he continued. “But I also believe that there’s equity in the brand which can extend to new categories. And that’s something we have only scratched the surface of.”
Both Cheng and Shukla trumpeted the importance of digital acumen and optimizing the online expression of the brand, in addition to widening its e-commerce channels.
Shukla credited Andrew Rosen, Theory’s founder and longtime chief executive officer, for teaching him how to develop brands and products, describing him as “one of the best merchants in the business.”
“We’re really hoping Siddhartha can lead the global growth of the brand, because we still need to roll out more retail stores globally, enhance our digitalization, which is a very important pillar for the brand, and explore more product categories,” Cheng said.
She had already cited beauty products as a future brand extension for Lanvin, and described substantial opportunities across accessories categories.
Lanvin has several hit sneakers, including the Bumper and Curb models, and Cheng cited traction with its handbags with cat-shaped handles.
In a statement, Cheng thanked Bazin “for his contribution and dedication to Lanvin and for his leadership in helping the brand achieve important steps on its revival path.” Bazin joined Lanvin from Versace in September 2020.
While declining to give figures, she said Lanvin would end 2021 with revenues above 2019 levels, fueled in part by triple-digit growth in China and robust business in the U.S., especially with accessories.
“We are very positive and confident about the developments we have made,” she said, highlighting interest from younger generations in the brand.
Challenges include rising production costs and supply-chain hiccups. “And on the marketing side, we need to make more noise,” she said.
However, she reiterated a target to reach breakeven by 2023, while also stressing a long-term commitment to the brand and the need for sustained investment to support digital and retail optimization.
Lanvin is sold in about 300 points of sale, but its retail network counts only about 25 boutiques.
Lanvin Group, previously Fosun Fashion Group, comprises five brands, the others being Sergio Rossi, Wolford, St. John and Caruso.
Last October, it brought on new investors — including Japan’s Itochu Corp. and Chinese high-end footwear maker Stella International — bringing the valuation of the Chinese fashion conglomerate to more than $1 billion.
Armed with more capital and industry expertise, the Shanghai-based firm plans to push further into Asia and the U.S., and continue building its portfolio of premium and luxury brands, as reported.