French luxury maison Lanvin has appointed Siddhartha Shukla as its new deputy general manager. Shukla steps into the role to replace Arnaud Bazin, who is exiting the company after just 14 months.
Lanvin is France’s oldest couture house, but despite its rich heritage the brand has seen revenue plummet since the exit of Alber Elbaz in 2015. Lanvin is owned by Chinese conglomerate Fosun, recently rebranded as the Lanvin Group, since 2018. Shukla will report to chairwoman Joann Cheng and work alongside Grace Zhao, his counterpart in Asia.
Brands cushioned with Chinese investment have often struggled to find long-term European success, lacking local market knowledge to successfully execute a turnaround. An article in the South China Morning Post last month said UK luxury brand Savile Row tailors Gieves & Hawkes and French labels Sandro and Maje have suffered from a Chinese company’s failed attempt to build a luxury conglomerate.
The Lanvin Group similarly lacks experience in managing European-founded luxury brands, but it could boost Lanvin’s Asia sales, where it does have significant market expertise. Other companies in its portfolio include Caruso, Wolford and Sergio Rossi.
While China’s customers have long been the bottom line saviour for many European brands when local markets have less appetite for luxury, having Chinese owners is an entirely different category.
One of the reasons there is no LVMH equivalent in China is that most luxury houses already have parent companies and not many are available to be bought. Despite Chinese conglomerates having the wealth and cash to make purchases, many brands still prefer to have European ownership.
Shukla will have to align with the Lanvin Group’s strategy and learn to navigate the cultural and market differences between China, the EU and US to return the brand to desirability in its heritage market.
Currently Lanvin operates 18 boutiques in addition to four outlets.