Lanvin, France’s most enduring high fashion brand, will soon be acquired by a new Chinese owner, according to reputable agencies. Citing sources familiar with the matter, Reuters reported on February 13 that Chinese conglomerate Fosun International has outbid rivals for control of the brand, and is set to announce the deal this week.
Founded in 1889 by legendary haute couture designer Jeanne Lanvin, Lanvin was made famous by a list of celebrity fans such as diverse as Meryl Streep and Beyoncé. It was among the most profitable fashion houses in the early 2000s under the creative direction of Alber Elbaz, who left the brand in October 2015 owing to disagreements with its largest shareholder, Taiwan-based media mogul Shaw-Lan Wang.
Elbaz’s departure hurt Lanvin’s designs and sent sales into free fall, and the brand has been on the verge of bankruptcy since 2017. Shaw-Lan Wang reportedly planned to inject cash into the brand late last year, but the money has not materialized.
The strength of the Lanvin brand has nevertheless remained appealing to many companies. Mayhoola, the investment fund backed by the Qatari Royal Family that has acquired Valentino, Balmain, Anya Hindmarch and more, was also said to be interested in snagging Lanvin.
Fosun reportedly plans to inject more than €100 million (124 million) into Lanvin, reducing Shaw-Lan Wang's stake from 75 percent down to 25 percent.
Fosun and Lanvin could not immediately be reached for comment about the rumors.
Adding Lanvin to its portfolio further cements Fosun’s ambitions in the luxury fashion industry. The Chinese conglomerate has been on a shopping spree for high-end luxury and hospitality brands in recent years, buying up Club Méditerranée SA, Folli Follie, St. John, and more.
Industry professionals are uncertain if the acquisition will help restore Lanvin to its former profitability.
“Fosun is moving up the ladder, but [for brands] they are not like LVHM with management and marketing expertise,” said Louis Houdart, founder of the marketing and branding agency Creative Capital. “I am not sure if they can turn around Lanvin successfully if they don’t have the right team in place.”
Houdart pointed out that if Lanvin’s current issue is more than just a shortage of cash, Fosun will need to supply leadership and management to truly revamp it. However, Fosun's approach to Club Méditerranée SA and Folli Follie don't demonstrate much strength in this regard.