LVMH Appoints Another Arnault to Leadership Role
This Wednesday, LVMH, founded by Bernard Arnault, announced a string of leadership changes mainly affecting Christian Dior Couture. Some executives moved to senior positions at other company owned brands but Delphine Arnault’s move to CEO of Dior is most publicized. Arnault was executive vice president at Louis Vuitton and did a previous stint at Dior as deputy chief in 2008.
A Family Affair
Now, this move is unsurprising given Bernard Arnault’s four other children also have major roles in the company. Comparisons by the media to the family power struggle depicted in Succession are common and Bernard Arnault likened to the patriarch that won’t quit.
Antoine Arnault, the eldest son, is CEO of Berluti and Christian Dior SE. The latter is the holding company that helps owns the LVMH corporation and not the Christian Dior couture brand. Next up is Alexandre Arnault who was the CEO of RIMOWA, a high end luggage brand, and is now the vice president of Tiffany & Co. The youngest two – Frédéric and Jean – are the CEO of Tag Heuer and director of watches at Louis Vuitton respectively.
Will The Next Generation Prioritize Progress at LVMH?
The integration of the new generation leaves one question – will this lead to change? Fashion’s old guard is reluctant to change and the family’s patriarch is no different. The unapologetic display of nepotism aside, the company patriarch’s comment about activist Greta Thunberg calling her “demoralizing” is the most damning.
In contrast, some of the children have spoken on pressing industry issues and financial accessibility in the luxury goods market. During #MeToo, Antoine Arnault was among the first to respond to James Scully’s condemnation of the treatment of models. LVMH then drafted a charter for ‘the wellbeing of models’ alongside rival company Kering.
Meanwhile, Alexandre Arnault hailed as the “disruptor” is most recognizable and most attuned to the wants of potential new customers and the social media generation. During his work at RIMOWA, he transformed a small German manufacturer into creating luggage used regularly by influencers and athletes. Recently, the Tiffany’s campaign “Not Your Mother’s Tiffany” gained attention for attempting to revamp the company from seeming stuffy.
Delphine Arnault, in contrast, has largely stayed out of the spotlight and focused on inclusivity internally. In 2014, she created the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers that awards three winners 300,000 euros and mentorship from established design teams. Past winners like Nensi Dojaka and Simon Jacquemus developed creative skills while learning about the business aspect of a brand.
The Road Ahead
Fashion, like all industries today, is increasingly monopolized and the dominance of conglomerates shows no signs of stopping. So, it is in the hands of those who are set to be in charge to lead the flock. It is obvious to anyone that steps are being taken to groom his children for one to eventually become the heir. However, unlike other beneficiaries of nepotism, they seem qualified enough and have the desire to increase accessibility and safety in the industry instead of staying rooted in tradition.