Bernard Arnault : "The LVMH group should be managed as a startup despite its size."

Sitting front row at the Givenchy runway show by Riccardo Tisci: its CEO, Bernard Arnault. The CNN Style teams met up with him to discuss Givenchy but also the role of innovation within the group. FashionMag.com brings you the interview.

 
 
On the success of Riccardo Tisci
A designer's talent is primordial, but it isn't enough, which is why I think there is always the risk of failure. There are several examples of this in the fashion world: talented designers who work with very good brands but sometimes it just doesn't work. Customers can tell what is real and what is not, like the relationship between a designer and a brand.

Riccardo's show is contemporary but it's because you still have the memory of Hubert de Givenchy in mind and that explains his success. Among the brands which I have been lucky to manage, I can tell you that success is translated by a blend of history and modernity, but also when a designer's style is naturally linked to the brand. That is what makes up the magic of Givenchy.
 
On the opening of a Givenchy flagship on Madison Avenue 
For the LVMH group, the United States is the leading global market, followed by Europe and the Far East. Growth in China has slowed down compared to the last ten years, but we shouldn't read too much into this. Growth has maybe dropped from 7% to 4% or 5%, but this is a growth rate that we would like to have in Europe.
 
Innovation at the heart of LVMH
I often say that the LVMH group should be managed like a startup despite its size. It's why we can attract the most talented newly graduated young artists and motivate them. I have just hired a manager from Apple. He will bring us agility, mobility and knowledge of the Internet.

We want to move away from this marketing-based organisation and concentrate more on a startup mentality. At talks with business school students the first thing I say is to not wait for me to start talking about marketing because I hate that. Our goal is to create products, to invent, and then for the customer to come to us to find the product they like. But if you start delving into market studies or studies on customers' tastes, you'll have moved away from the product you actually wanted? I think that all good products are new ones. We have to produce, deliver, send and sell the product. It is very organised work and it is this organisation of the work that should co-exist with creativity, which in essence is disorganised, but what is equally the beauty of it.
 
Givenchy's biggest strength: its historic DNA
I remember having a discussion with Steve Jobs about his products. I asked him if he thought that the telephone would have the same success in 30 years, to which he replied that he didn't know. He asked me the same question and I answered: “Steve, I think that my Dom Pérignon will still be useful in 30 years. We are selling a part of history.”
 
 

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