Did Apple Hire Former Yves Saint Laurent CEO to Work on Wearables?

Amidst a wearable technology market that’s set to explode, Apple has announced that former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve has joined the company to work on “special projects,” reporting directly to chief executive Tim Cook.

Paul Deneve, former chief executive of Yves Saint Laurent and vice president of special projects at Apple | Source: Courtesy photo

CUPERTINO, United States — Yesterday, the fashion industry was buzzing with the news that Paul Deneve, chief executive of Yves Saint Laurent, was leaving the label for a “new career opportunity in the high-tech industry” in California’s Silicon Valley.

Now, it appears that the former fashion executive is set to join Apple. “We’re thrilled to welcome Paul Deneve to Apple,” the company said, yesterday, in a statement. “He’ll be working on special projects as a vice president reporting directly to Tim Cook.”

Critically, it appears that Deneve, who spent time at Courrèges, Nina Ricci and Lanvin before his tenure at Yves Saint Laurent, will not be running Apple’s retail store operation, a position that has remained open since the departure of John Browett, who lasted less than a year after replacing the company’s first head of retail, Ron Johnson.

So what exactly will Deneve be doing for Apple?

Apple is famous for having successfully applied the rules of luxury fashion to the marketing of its popular iPod, iPhone and iPad devices. And it’s perfectly conceivable that Deneve, who was a sales and marketing manager at Apple Europe from 1990 to 1997, is set to focus on marketing.

But there’s a more intriguing possibility.

In May, Apple chief executive Tim Cook revealed that the company would release “several more game changers” like the iPod, iPhone and iPad, hinting that wearable devices — personal accessories with embedded sensors, displays and other digital technology such as Nike’s FuelBand, Google’s Internet-connected eyewear and Apple’s rumoured iWatch — could be among them. “It’s ripe for us all getting excited about. I think there will be tons of companies playing in this,” he said. “I think wearables is incredibly interesting, it could be a profound area.”

According to a report issued by Credit Suisse, the “wearables” market is set to explode, reaching $30 billion to $50 billion over the next three to five years. Indeed, the bank went so far as to call them “a mega trend” that has hit “an inflection point in market adoption” and will have “a significant and pervasive impact on the economy.”

Who better to advise Apple on the design and marketing of wearable technology than a former Apple employee with 12 years of experience running luxury fashion brands?

Stay tuned.

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