June 25, 2024

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Louis Vuitton juggles volume and value as luxury boom ebbs

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A screaming crowd 20 people deep strained against barriers and spilled on to the road outside Louis Vuitton’s October runway show on Paris’s Champs-Élysées as movie star Zendaya walked the red carpet in a white zippered gown split to the navel. 

“It’s like doing crowd control during Beatlemania,” a police officer grumbled to a colleague as he swatted away a Louis Vuitton handbag swinging from an animated woman’s wrist.

The LVMH-owned fashion house has been one of the biggest winners of the luxury boom that is now drawing to a close, doubling in size in the past five years to become the world’s first luxury brand to exceed €20bn in annual sales.

Against this more subdued economic backdrop, Vuitton’s chief executive Pietro Beccari — who was appointed from LVMH’s Christian Dior Couture in January — now faces the dual challenges of continuing to grow an already huge brand while maintaining its luxury cachet. 

“Louis Vuitton is the leader of luxury so we have to keep on doing more and more, creating more and more desirability for the culture of the brand as well as the designs,” Beccari told the Financial Times at the October show.

Inside the cavernous venue — a building site for what will become one of Vuitton’s newest and biggest global location swathed in orange plastic sheeting for the occasion — LVMH executives and the family of billionaire owner Bernard Arnault mingled with stars and influencers. It was a show of force for the flagship house of Arnault’s sprawling luxury empire two weeks before third-quarter results showed that industry-wide growth was softening to a more normal historical pace after a three-year boom. 

Stars such as Zendaya help boost the appeal of designer brands © Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

LVMH sales grew 9 per cent in the most recent quarter to €19.9bn, down from 17 per cent in the preceding three months. The group does not break out figures for individual brands, but analysts estimate Louis…

2023-10-29 01:00:12

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