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JW Anderson and Rimowa Join Moncler Genius Lineup

Following rumours of a possible Kering takeover, Moncler has turned to LVMH to find the next guest talent for its collaborations model.

Moncler is tapping two LVMH brands for its Genius project, which features a rotating list of guest designers, whose collections are revealed each February at Milan Fashion Week and then released monthly throughout the year.

The success of the model has inspired other companies across the industry to attempt a similar strategy, so Moncler is under pressure to deliver something new and novel each year. With that, JW Anderson and Rimowa will join the lineup, along with Copenhagen-based start-up, which sells electric bicycles. Returning collaborators include 1952 by Veronica Leoni and Sergio Zambon, Grenoble by Sandro Mandrino, Simone Rocha, Craig Green, 1017 Alyx 9SM, Fragment Hiroshi Fujiwara and Richard Quinn. The collections will be unveiled on February 19, during a presentation at Milan Fashion Week.

As the programme enters its third year, Moncler Chief Executive Remo Ruffini sees going beyond ready-to-wear as the key to keeping the model fresh. Though past collections have included accessories, the Rimowa x Moncler line of suitcases will be the first accessories-focused Genius collection, while the x Moncler collaboration is the first Genius tie-up with a company outside of the fashion and luxury spheres.

The suitcases and bikes are designed to become conversation pieces, Ruffini said.

“We want to give a voice to our customer to talk with other people on the street,” he said.

Moncler’s revenue has shot up in recent years, in part due to the buzz generated by the Genius collaborations, which also brought curious customers into the outerwear brand’s stores. Moncler’s stock price has more than doubled since the start of 2017, and the Italian company has a market capitalisation of €10 billion ($11 billion), roughly on par with Burberry and Prada.

The brand’s success has sparked rumours that it could be an acquisition target. In December, reports surfaced of possible discussions between Moncler and French luxury group Kering. At the time, executives with both brands said that while the two companies often talk, no deal was in the works.

“I consider everything, but we don’t have anything consistent on the table,” Ruffini told BoF on Friday. “I've talked to many people in the last three, four, five years, but ... we don’t have anything on the table.”

Ruffini, who joined Moncler as chairman and chief executive in 2003, has been the driving force behind the brand’s turnaround, resurrecting a storied-but-struggling name and growing it into a business that logged over €1.4 billion ($1.5 billion) in sales last year.

The company announced the Genius strategy in February 2018 as a way to tap new customers and deliver constant newness to the social media-driven consumer.

“Since we are not part of the big group, we’re not part of the fashion system, we are quite a unique brand inside this luxury world,” said Ruffini. “We need more ideas, more uniqueness, more energy to compete with other brands that are much bigger than us.”

It proved a roaring success. While just 10 percent of Moncler’s sales come from Genius collections, the strategy introduced the brand to a younger demographic: now, 40 percent of brand customers are of the Gen-Z and Millennial generations. In addition, 50 percent of Genius customers are first-time purchasers of the brand and 40 percent have also purchased the brand’s other products. Company revenues have continued on an upward trajectory.

A number of brands have attempted to mimic the approach, including Tod’s, Calvin Klein and, most recently, Pucci. However, Ruffini isn’t worried. When your peers copy an idea, it suggests the idea is good, he said.

It was not an easy project to execute, and it’s not easy for brands to copy.

“[It took] a lot of redesigning the company, redesigning the mentality, improving the culture,” he said. “To stay hot in this world is not easy. We really try to move on every month. It’s a journey more than a project.”

For Jonathan Anderson, joining the Genius lineup “was a no brainer,” he told BoF, adding that it was an opportunity for his business to learn from Moncler’s way of working.

Anderson, who in the past has collaborated with Uniqlo, Converse and Topshop, said he went back into his archives to inspire the upcoming unisex collection — something he has never done for any other collaborative project.

“What is good about collaborations in this industry is sharing information and ideas. We can come up with new resolutions,” said Anderson. “The world has changed. What Moncler has really been able to harness is an incredible platform to be able to do this on.”

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