On Friday, iconic fashion House of Chanel revealed that it has invested in four Lyon-France-based silk specialists.
“We need this expertise to ensure the future of our collections,” Bruno Pavlovsky, the president of Chanel fashion, told WWD. “Step by step, we are investing more and more in the upstream process to be sure we have what we need to manufacture collections. And silk is very important. It’s a pillar of what we are doing.”
While financial terms were not disclosed, Pavlovsky said Chanel took a majority stake in three firms – Textiles Henri Lacroix, Les Moulinages de Riotord, and Hugo Tag Ennoblissement.
According to the Fashion Times, the executive also explained that Chanel plans to invest in high-tech machinery and bolster staffing.
“It’s the best way to continue to preserve and advance expertise,” Pavlovsky told WWD. “For each of these companies, we have an investment plan, which is part of our acquisition cost.”
Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s ready-to-wear and couture designer, has utilized Lyon silks in previous designs for linings, printed fabrics, and scarves.
Silk making — once the primary preserve of Sicily — began in 16th century France under King Henry IV, who ordered the plantation of thousands of mulberries in Languedoc and Provence for the production of silkworms.
“When you wear a Chanel jacket, the feeling comes from the lining,” Pavlovsky said.
Chanel has also taken a minority stake in Denis & Fils, a weaver of plain and Jacquard fabrics for fashion, lingerie, and home furnishings.
“For each of these companies, we have an investment plan, which is part of our acquisition cost,” Pavlovsky told WWD.
The four companies are small specialists consisting of 15 to 49 employees, three of which carry the government-sponsored label Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant – a label reserved for companies that deliver traditional, high-end artisan work.
“In the ready-to-wear process, between the show and the delivery dates, one of the most crucial steps is having the capacity to immediately launch production of the fabrics,” Pavslovsky added.
Chanel has been acquiring specialists, such as milliners, boot-makers, and feather providers, for more than a decade — beginning in 1984 with Desrues.
Last Tuesday, Chanel announced its acquisition of the family-owned and Millau-based Richard Tannery, a business that specializes in the manufacturing of high-end lambskin. Chanel also acquired the Bodin-Joyeux tannery in 2013 and the glove-maker Causse a year earlier — both of which came from the Millau region.
“[Chanel] has taken a majority stake in the Richard tannery, a family operation founded in 1852, located in the heart of Aveyron, in Millau. Specializing in the production of Lacaune and Entrefino lamb skins, Richard combines artisanal processes and innovative manufacturing techniques, creating fantasy leathers in metallic, mother of pearl, prints, lacquers, crinkles etc.,” Chanel officials said in a statement.
“Its expertise lies in the manufacturing of high end lamb skins. The tannery is indeed a longstanding luxury supplier,” the statement continued. “[O]ver the years, it has learned how to reinvent itself and adapt to changing market expectations, going from a supplier of glove and apparel leather to a specialist in shoes and leather goods.”
This past spring, Chanel bought a minority stake in the 129-year-old tulle and lace supplier Sophie Hallette near Calais, the lace capital of France. According to Fashion Magazine, the lace industry has suffered due to a sharp drop in lingerie demand from major markets such as Russia.
Chanel, which first opened in 1910 by Gabrielle “CoCo” Chanel, is the world’s second-largest luxury brand behind Louis Vuitton Malletier – founded in 1854 by Louis Vuitton – and is estimated to generate approximately seven billion euros ($8 billion) in sales each year. Chanel’s finances are controlled by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer.
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