Retail in Asia

In Sectors

The new Louis Vuitton: Pharrell Williams, Gen-Z shoppers and China price hikes

The tide is turning at Louis Vuitton in 2023. After the sudden death of Louis Vuitton men’s creative director, Virgil Abloh, in November 2021, the French luxury house has finally found a replacement, a nod to its continued focus on streetwear and Gen-Z luxury shoppers.

SEE ALSO: Louis Vuitton opens Yayoi Kusama pop-up store in Tokyo

Singer-turned-entrepreneur Pharrell Williams has been named Louis Vuitton men’s creative director, effective immediately. His first collection for the house will be revealed this June during the Men’s Fashion Week in Paris.

Parent company LVMH described Williams as a “visionary whose creative universes expand from music, to art, and to fashion – establishing himself as a cultural, global icon over the past twenty years,” in a press release on February 14.

“The way in which he breaks boundaries across the various worlds he explores aligns with Louis Vuitton’s status as a cultural maison, reinforcing its values of innovation, pioneer spirit and entrepreneurship,” continued LVMH.

Williams, like Abloh, is a multi-hyphenate, working as a recording artist, producer, songwriter, philanthropist, fashion designer, and entrepreneur with 10 billion combined global music streams to date.

In 2019, Williams founded Yellow, a non-profit working to even the odds for all youth through education, and in a year later, launched Black Ambition, a non-profit initiative that provides a bridge to success for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs.

While the singer might seem an odd choice at first, he has a long-standing history with the fashion world, launching the streetwear brand Billionaire Boys Club in the early noughties and has collaborated with luxury fashion brands such as Chanel, Moncler and even Louis Vuitton itself throughout the years.

“[Hiring Williams] undoubtedly means that Louis Vuitton is betting on star power and mass appeal, choosing a familiar face to represent the brand as it embarks on this new chapter. However, Williams has big shoes to fill, as Abloh radically transformed the brand’s menswear division through his innovative vision of luxury,” said Louise Deglise-Favre, Apparel Analyst at GlobalData.

“Choosing Pharrell Williams also indicates that Louis Vuitton is doubling down on the streetwear influences that Virgil Abloh brought to the brand, which allowed it to be so successful in recent years and resonate with luxury’s new crucial audience of Gen-Z shoppers.”

Coinciding with the appointment news, LVMH is also planning to raise its prices for its Louis Vuitton brand in China by as much as 20 percent, according to bloggers on China’s social media platform Xiaohongshu, as the luxury label bets on a strong rebound of Chinese demand following the easing of Covid-19 lockdowns in January.

As per a Reuters report, the bloggers, citing sales associates for the fashion label, are forecasting price increases at Louis Vuitton of between 8 percent and 20 percent on February 18.

According to Bain and Co, “the fundamentals of consumption in China are still intact,” for 2023, after a contraction in luxury growth in 2022.

“Compared to other emerging markets, China is a behemoth for luxury growth. It has a larger number of middle- and high-income consumers, and these populations are projected to double by 2030,” Bain added in a report released this month.