PARIS — With 2023 promising to be another year of designer musical chairs in the luxury industry, at least one brand is happy to be without a creative figurehead.
Berluti, owned by French luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, returned to the official Paris Fashion Week calendar this season for the first time since the departure of its artistic director Kris Van Assche in 2021.
Far from being dormant in the meantime, the house has overhauled its ready-to-wear and accessories collections and is now ready to showcase the work of its in-house team.
It marks the first time since launching its ready-to-wear line in 2012 that the footwear specialist has operated without a creative director, following the tenures of Alessandro Sartori, Haider Ackermann and Van Assche. Antoine Arnault, chief executive officer of Berluti, said the change in equipment proved beneficial.
“While you might think there’s a risk that this would leave us out of the conversation or less in line with trends, it’s nice to see that the opposite has happened. And by stepping out of the fashion scene, with this commitment to deliver something new every season, we’ve benefited from being much more confident and true to our roots of craftsmanship,” he said.
“We no longer do fashion shows, but we communicate differently. We do a lot of one-on-one meetings with our historical clients. Special orders and tailoring are doing better and better, so it’s all very virtuous and it’s nice to be a little less visible,” added Arnault. “This works much better for us, and our clients feel it.”
While the CEO declined to provide numbers, he said the sales reflect the brand’s renewed momentum coming out of the coronavirus pandemic. “Our shoes and leather goods are doing extremely well in Asia, especially in Japan,” he pointed out. “When you look at the ranking of department stores in those countries, we’re not far behind the major brands.”
Harold Israel, Berluti’s vice president of marketing and image, said the “very good” performance in 2022 was the result of a general update aimed at strengthening the pillars of the brand, emphasizing craftsmanship and streamlining the ready-to-wear range, with a focus on travel-friendly pieces that combine comfort and luxury. .
“By focusing a little less on fashion and revising our columns and range, we made our message and brand identity much clearer and our customers came back,” he said. “All of our iconic products have been revamped to improve build quality and performance in terms of trims and finishes, and above all to match.”
Berluti’s Fall 2023 collection, titled “The Great Escape,” will be unveiled Wednesday in a showroom at the brand’s Paris headquarters.
Launching in September is a six-piece line of luggage and bags featuring the new Toile Marbeuf canvas, with a fresh take on the Scritto, Berluti’s signature 18th-century manuscript motif. With its rich brown leather trim, inspired joinery and club chairs found in the brand’s historic boutique on Rue Marbeuf, it’s designed to have a retro feel.
Meanwhile, Berluti plans to downsize the Signature canvas it introduced in 2020.
On the footwear side, the brand offers new variants on classic styles such as the Ultima, now lined in shearling for a winter feel, and its best-selling Shadow sneaker. Meanwhile, classic bag styles like the Trois Nuits, launched in 2005, have undergone a makeover.
“Shoes are really the core of our expertise, so the quality is extremely high. We wanted our offer of leather goods to be at the same level,” said Israel.
Likewise, Berluti has been refining his ready-to-wear to make it ever more lightweight, with items including a burgundy leather version of his B-Way blouse, a deerskin varsity jacket and a lightweight undershirt made from supple patinated leather.
“To construct a light piece is not easy. It’s much simpler to make something quite structured and rigid, and it’s also cheaper, while refining these kinds of pieces is very complex and requires real knowledge and experience,” Israel pointed out.
The autumn collection is divided into four drops, and it arrives in stores from July to December. While Berluti has no plans to expand its global network of around 60 stores, it does have a program of pop-ins timed with important releases, which include a golf capsule collection and new Lorenzo Drive loafers in the first half, and Marbeuf canvas in the second half.
The brand plans to reprise its Live Iconic campaign, launched in 2022 with images of two of its legendary clients, Marcello Mastroianni and Andy Warhol. It’s all part of its new customer-centric strategy.
“Our message is that we’re more of a luxury house than a fashion house — that’s actually territory we want to explore, but we don’t want to do it in a repetitive, boring or uncreative way. We want to do it with intention, which is to highlight our knowledge and experience and show how we envision men’s wardrobe, and we think that vision is relevant and real,” said Israel.