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Alexander Wang to Exit Balenciaga, Says Report

According to a report published today, Balenciaga and parent company Kering have decided not to renew Wang's contract at the French house.
Alexander Wang | Source: Shutterstock
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  • BoF Team

PARIS, France — According to a report published today in Women's Wear Daily, Balenciaga and parent company Kering have decided not to renew Alexander Wang's contract at the storied French house. It is reported that Wang's last fashion show for Balenciaga will be during the upcoming Paris Fashion Week. The search for Wang's successor is underway, say sources.

Today’s report, if confirmed, would end speculation on Wang’s future at the brand, which began earlier this month when a spokesperson for Kering confirmed, "There are discussions between the designer and Balenciaga regarding the renewal of the contract." Alongside his role at Balenciaga, Wang also serves as creative director of his eponymous label, which is set to launch its first European flagship in London this year.

According to the report, the search for Wang's successor is in its early stages, with sources suggesting that Balenciaga may follow a similar path to Kering-owned Gucci, which plucked Alessandro Michele, a relatively unknown figure, from the brand's in-house team and appointed him creative director. The news comes after it was announced on Monday that Grita Loebsack, formerly of Unilever, will join Kering as chief executive officer of its luxury couture and leather goods' emerging brands, effective September 14.

While his predecessor, Nicolas Ghesquière, was seen as an innovator during his tenure at the house, thanks to his progressive designs and use of new fabrications, Wang has focussed largely on updating the house's codes through a more minimalist approach, eschewing embellishments and sticking to a mostly monochrome palette.

Compared to Ghesquière, Wang’s tenure at Balenciaga has been short. Ghesquière, who the French luxury house brought on in 1997, spent 15 years at the label before decamping to Louis Vuitton, where he is creative director.

While Kering does not break out financial results for Balenciaga, in March the brand reported “accelerating double-digit growth,” with over half of the company revenues coming from its directly owned retail network of 90 doors, a number that has shot up from three stores seven years ago. The brand also has around 500 wholesale points of sale. Market sources say Balenciaga is profitable, with revenues above 350 million euros (about $387 million).

This year, Balenciaga will open a Florence boutique and has a series of store refurbishments and relocations in the pipeline. The label will also relocate its 250 employees to a new base within the parent company’s forthcoming headquarters, the Laennec complex in Paris.

As well as its heritage — Balenciaga will celebrate its centenary in 2017 — the label is known for its recent hits in the leather goods category, such as the motorcycle bag, an early it-bag, and recent styles like the Cable, Le Dix and Nude bags.

On Tuesday, Kering reported a 13 percent drop in net earnings to 489.2 million euros, ($541.1 million) in the first six months of 2015, but sales jumped 22.8 percent in the second quarter to 2.86 billion euros (about $3.16 billion). The focus of the results was Gucci’s turnaround since appointing new creative director Alessandro Michele. In the three months to June 30, the brand’s organic sales rose 4.6 percent.

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