Italian Group Acquires Jil Sander With Eye On China

What Happened: Italian fashion conglomerate OTB announced today that it completed a full acquisition of the minimalist luxury brand Jil Sander. Formerly owned by Japanese conglomerate Onward Holding, the German house now joins the OTB’s brand portfolio alongside Diesel, Maison Margiela, and Marni. According to OTB’s president, Renzo Rosso, Jil Sander’s creative directors Luke and Lucie Meier will remain at the helm, as sales enjoyed a significant boost after their arrival.

In 2020, the Italian fashion conglomerate saw its turnover fall by 14 percent to $1.6 billion. However, its brand Maison Margiela enjoyed 20-percent overall growth.

The Jing Take:  This deal is part of OTB’s strategy to consolidate its presence in the high-end sector as a way to attract China’s Gen Zers. The move follows an ambitious wave of Italian fashion companies acquiring brands, such as Moncler buying Stone Island, Antonioli purchasing Ann Demeulemeester, and Style Capital acquiring Zimmerman. And, according to Renzo Rosso, “a faster pace of Italian M&A is set to continue.”

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After years of trending downward via its core brand Diesel, OTB is now hunting for new assets to strengthen its positioning within the global market. CEO of OTB China, Giovanni Pungetti, revealed that, during the pandemic, the group’s brands Marni, Diesel, and Maison Margiela (all now on Tmall) experienced double-digit online sales growth. The group also used this period to experiment with livestream channels, which received surprisingly positive results.

Jil Sander’s 2020 revenue was $92 million, and in recent years, its minimalist design has received particular attention from China’s young luxury spenders. On Little Red Book, it has over 20,000 instances of user-generated content. Yet, the brand currently has few sales channels: Its official WeChat account shows it only has one store in China (Beijing) and no presence on local e-commerce platforms like Tmall or WeChat’s Mini Program. Under the drive of OTB, Jil Sander will likely accelerate its online expansion through those aforementioned domestic channels. But it will take a concentrated effort for the brand to reap the rewards its stablemate Margiela has.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

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