PARIS, France — Kim Jones is exiting his role as men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton. The London-born designer will show his last collection for the LVMH-owned house on Thursday, amid speculation that he may be headed to Burberry.
“It has been a huge privilege to work with Kim. His ability to set trends is impeccable and his talent and determination have ensured that Louis Vuitton is firmly placed as the leading brand in luxury menswear today. All of us who have been fortunate to work with Kim wish him continued success in his next venture,” said Michael Burke, chairman and chief executive of Louis Vuitton in a statement.
When Jones graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2002, his collection was bought by John Galliano. He subsequently launched a namesake label during London Fashion Week in 2003. However, he closed that business in 2008 to join British menswear luxury brand Alfred Dunhill as creative director.
In 2011, Jones was recruited by Louis Vuitton to design its men’s collection, taking charge of one of the fastest growing sections of the global fashion powerhouse.
During Jones’ tenure, Louis Vuitton’s men’s division came into its own thanks to his distinctive, streetwear-inflected take on luxury, most recently underscored through the blockbuster collaboration with popular New York-based streetwear label Supreme, revealed at the Autumn/Winter 2017 show.
The timing couldn't have been more right. High-end streetwear helped boost global sales of luxury personal goods by 5 percent this year to an estimated €263 billion ($309 billion), according to a study by global consulting firm Bain & Company. “Streetwear is a macro-trend in all geographies,” said Federica Levato, a partner at Bain & Company, ahead of the study's release.
On the heels of that success, Jones’ name has been floated for more than one high-profile creative director role, including Burberry, where president and chief creative officer Christopher Bailey is set to depart in March 2018. Jones was also rumoured earlier in 2017 to be in talks with Versace.
While Jones has no formal experience designing womenswear, his ability to earn Louis Vuitton relevancy in modern culture may be attractive to a company like Burberry, which has experienced success in digital marketing but has struggled to deliver product that resonates in the same way. In the 2016 fiscal year, underlying revenue at Burberry was down 2 percent, with operating profits down 21 percent. However, in the first half of 2017, revenue at stores open at least one year were up 4 percent with operating margin up 14.6 percent, much in thanks to its beauty deal with Coty.
“I am pleased with our performance in the half with strong double-digit underlying profit growth,” chief executive Marco Gobbetti said, noting that consumers responded positively to "newness" in product. “I look forward to building on our strong foundations as we implement our strategy to drive Burberry forward.” Is Jones part of that strategy?
Editor's Note: This article was revised on January 17, 2018. A previous version of this story erroneously linked a statement from Burberry chief executive Marco Gobbetti to his turnaround plan for the company.