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The BoF Podcast | Christian Louboutin on Balancing Personal Identity and Public Brand

Christian Louboutin opens up to Rozan Ahmed at BoF VOICES 2021 about identity, passion and building a brand worth $2.7 billion from the ground up.
Christian Louboutin.

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Background:

Christian Louboutin’s iconic red-soled stilettos have made him one of fashion’s most recognisable names. But few know the story of the multi-faceted man behind the Christian Louboutin brand.

Louboutin spoke with writer and cultural activist Rozan Ahmed at BoF VOICES 2021 about how his identity and upbringing have shaped how he approaches business. A major factor in understanding that identity was Louboutin’s discovery later in life that he was actually the child of his French mother and her Egyptian lover.

“To belong to different cultures, to different places makes you understand from the very beginning that the world has a lot of different points of view,” Louboutin said. “When you have different ethnicities, different cultures you’re not divided, you’re multiplied.”

Key Insights:

  • Throughout his life, Louboutin felt an affinity for Egypt, but it wasn’t until his older sister probed his interest in the country that he was able to discover the reason why. “She asked me why I love Egypt so much… she said, ‘You could be looking for something’. I said, ‘Looking for what?’. She said, ‘Your father.’”
  • Louboutin sold a 24 percent stake in his business in March 2021, a point he was able to arrive at through the work of many. As a leader, Louboutin doesn’t accept all the credit for the success of his company. He explains, “When you’re working with people and you respect them and you have everyone doing their thing the best because they like what they do, then you end up having a great team so you don’t need to be a good leader.”
  • On sustaining personal joy alongside professional success, having excitement in whatever he is doing is paramount for Louboutin. “I feel that passion comes first. And if passion comes first, you will never waste your time because you will always be happy with what you are doing. And if success is happening, it’s a cherry on the cake,” he says.
  • Despite his success, Louboutin never imagined building a multi-billion business — or giving up a stake in it. “I started the company three years ago with my two best friends, and I never thought of selling a part of the company,” he says. “I was not even necessarily interested in the fashion industry… I just wanted to have a shop with nice shoes. That’s it.”

BoF VOICES, our annual gathering for big thinkers, returns from November 28 to November 30, 2023, uniting the movers, shakers and trailblazers of the fashion industry with the thought leaders, entrepreneurs and inspiring people shaping the wider world. The entire event will be livestreamed for BoF Professional All-Access members. Register now to join us.

Additional Resources:

This podcast is made in partnership with Brandlive and Clearco.

Further Reading

In the fifth and final session of BoF’s annual gathering, Vanessa Kingori, Jay Shetty, Sinéad Burke, Christian Louboutin and others spoke about finding personal fulfillment in the face of adversity.



In This Article

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