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News Bites | Joseph Altuzarra on His Move to Paris, Glossier Goes Global

In today's News Bites, Joseph Altuzarra tells BoF about his decision to leave New York Fashion Week and Glossier announces international plans.
Joseph Altuzarra at his shop-in-shop in Saks Fifth Avenue's New York City flagship | Photo: Richie Talboy for BoF
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  • BoF Team

Welcome to News Bites, BoF's regular compilation of the stories that have got the industry talking.

Joseph Altuzarra is heading to Paris Fashion Week next season.

New York Fashion Week is losing another star: Joseph Altuzarra is heading to Paris Fashion Week to present his Spring 2018 collection. He is the latest New York-based designer to shift his presentation to the French capital, following the departure of Proenza Schouler, Rodarte and Thom Browne, who together leave a significant gap in the New York Fashion Week schedule.

However, Altuzarra’s motivations may deviate slightly from his fellow designers. For him, Paris represents more than new opportunity. It’s also a homecoming. “It was a both a personal decision and a professional one,” Altuzarra told BoF. Born and raised in Paris before attending university in the United States, he travels often to the city now to visit family and friends. “I feel French, I am French. I always, in the back of my mind, had this dream and desire to show in Paris.

The designer had only been seriously considering the move for about a year, however, despite being approached by the La Fédération de la haute couture et de la Mode in the past. Now is the right time for the shift to Paris, he explained, because it coincides with a moment of expansion and growth in the business.

“The global scope of Paris as a city will allow us to reach a wider audience,” said Altuzarra, describing the decision as a milestone for the brand as it approaches its ten year anniversary in 2018.

Chief executive Karis Durmer told BoF in 2016 that sales have grown 350 percent since the French conglomerate Kering took a minority stake in the Altuzarra business in 2013. The company does not disclose precise revenue figures, but market sources put annual sales at under $20 million in 2016. “We are in the range where $50 million is our next hurdle,” Durmer said at the time. Reflecting on the move to Paris, the designer told BoF the business was growing significantly in Europe, while the potential for growth in the Asian market is an important focus for the label.

Paris has long been the world's premier fashion capital, but the city has gained momentum in recent seasons as more and more American designers have moved their shows there, motivated by the promise of greater brand exposure and the presence of more international buyers.

"Over the last couple of years, there is a decentralization of shows and I think that there is a lot more freedom in where people decide to show," said Altuzarra, who called his venue change permanent for the foreseeable future. "One thing that we are seeing in New York is a generational shift." He described the city as an exciting place to be a young designer and build a business. "I don't think that is ever going to change, but I think New York will always have the gravitas that it has as well," he added, citing Tom Ford's return to New York.

Paris is proving to be a popular platform for 10-to-15-year-old brands like Altuzarra aiming to tap their next stage of growth. While Proenza Schouler and Rodarte aligned their shows with the city's Couture Week to coincide with pre-collection sales when department store buyers spend the vast majority of their budgets, Altuzarra is heading for Paris' women's ready-to-wear week. Thom Browne is doing the same with his upcoming womenswear presentation.

Where does this leave New York?

"The story is not that something is wrong with New York Fashion Week, but that designers are trying something different," Steven Kolb, president and chief executive officer of the CFDA, told BoF. He credited the CFDA's 2016 report on the future of fashion, conducted with the Boston Consulting Group, for prompting designers to think differently about runway formats. "The door is open, they are always welcome to come back to New York, and the likelihood is that some will at some point," said Kolb.

Altuzarra presented his first collection at New York Fashion Week in 2009. His signature mix of French sensuality, American pragmatism and an appreciation for traditional craft has since catapulted his business into the top tier of American luxury designer brands, to both critical acclaim and commercial success. And while Altuzarra reaffirmed his commitment to New York as both a home and headquarters, the move to Paris will also underscore the French foundation of the business. "I've been giving a lot of thought to the branding of Altuzarra as well," he said. "With the brand identity being deep in that heritage… it felt both like a very natural and a very personal decision." — Chantal Fernandez

Glossier details first global expansion plans.

Glossier, the direct-to-consumer beauty brand known for its community driven marketing and product development as well as its fiercely loyal millennial consumer base, is ready to expand internationally for the first time. Founder and chief executive Emily Weiss announced in an online letter on Wednesday that the New York-based brand will soon become available in Canada, the UK and France.

The company, which launched in 2014 out of the beauty blog Into the Gloss, has raised approximately $34 million from investors. When Weiss announced the $24 million Series B round in November 2016, she told customers that the company planned to use the funds to launch two new product categories, permanent retail locations and international expansion.

Shipping will open to Canada (except Quebec, which is forthcoming as well) this month. The UK will follow this Autumn and France is scheduled for sometime in 2018. Glossier product is currently only available offline at its New York City showroom in Soho, but the brand is planning retail events in both London and Toronto this summer. — Chantal Fernandez

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