PARIS, France — Balenciaga and Alexander Wang have reached a “joint decision” not to renew their contract beyond its initial term, Balenciaga’s parent company Kering confirmed today. The announcement followed a number of speculative reports on Wang’s exit from the storied French luxury brand. Wang's final collection for Balenciaga, Spring/Summer 2016, will be shown on 2 October in Paris.
Although Kering did not provide a reason for Wang's departure, market sources say the designer intends to focus more time on his eponymous New York-based brand, Alexander Wang, which has been seeking investment over the last year. According to a source familiar with the talks, the pool of potential investors recently narrowed to one.
"It’s been an incredible experience to work with a couture house in Paris. I am honoured to have had the opportunity to work for this historical maison. I would like to thank the brilliant team at Balenciaga for their collaboration and for what we have accomplished together, and I am looking forward to taking my own brand to its next level of growth," said Wang in a statement.
"We are all at Balenciaga extremely grateful to Alexander for his important contribution to the style and history of this iconic house. The dynamic growth of the brand over the last years bears testimony to his successful creative work," said Isabelle Guichot, Balenciaga’s president and chief executive.
François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of Kering, added: "I join Isabelle Guichot and the Balenciaga house in heartfully thanking Alexander for his dedication and unique artistic contribution to the building of Balenciaga in a more globally recognised house. I personally wish him all the best."
Wang has been creative director of Balenciaga since 2012, succeeding Nicolas Ghesquière who stepped down after a critically celebrated 15 years at the house to take up the creative reins at Louis Vuitton. Despite facing scepticism about his ability to fill Ghesquière's big shoes, Wang's first Balenciaga runway show for Autumn/Winter 2013 was positively received.
Although Kering does not release specific financial results for Balenciaga, market sources say the brand is profitable, with annual revenues above 350 million euros (about $387 million), just less than three percent of Kering’s total revenue.
The news of Wang's departure comes days after Kering’s announcement, on Monday, that Grita Loebsack, a former Unilever executive, has been appointed chief executive officer of Kering’s six luxury couture and leather goods emerging brands, which include Balenciaga, as well as Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Christopher Kane.
The search for Wang's replacement has already begun. Sources suggest that Balenciaga may follow a similar path to Kering-owned Gucci, who appointed Alessandro Michele, a lesser-known figure from the brand's in-house team, to the post of creative director earlier this year.