PPR Acquires 51 Percent of Christopher Kane
London / Paris – 15 January 2013 – PPR and Christopher Kane jointly announced today that they have signed an agreement by which PPR acquires 51 percent of the luxury designer brand “Christopher Kane” in order to develop the business in partnership with its creator, the Scottish designer Christopher Kane.
And so the speculation finally ended. “It’s quite something,” Christopher Kane said before the announcement today. “But I think I’m going to celebrate tomorrow. It still feels surreal. I’ve been told to stay quiet for so long that I almost feel wrong talking about it.”
“So long” is, in fact, the entire year that Kane was in negotiations with PPR. First contact came from CEO François-Henri Pinault. “I guess he’s always looking out, and he wanted to meet me.” And while the huge process of business and accounts ground on over the course of the next 12 months, rumors flourished, most significantly the one that said Kane would take over from Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga, another hot PPR property. “The Balenciaga thing wasn’t a bad thing,” he conceded, “but I had to make sure I denied that straightaway so that the PPR investment in my business didn’t look like a consolation prize.”
PPR felt right to Kane from the start. “We were a six-and-a-half-year-old independent company which was very cautious about letting people in, but we got to the point where we were really looking for people with the knowledge and expertise to take the business to a bigger arena. People say, ‘PPR?’ I say, ‘Look at the portfolio. Look at the British brands, like Stella and McQueen.’ François wants to nurture the creativity that makes each business unique. He signed McQueen, and the DNA of the brand is still intact. PPR likes to take things step by step. It’s not headfirst. They want to make sure everything’s all right—and they have the patience for it.”
Now, Kane’s own step-by-steps will include the obvious retail expansion. “A shop is a dream, a real stamp of approval,” he says. There are also other logical extensions, like the leather goods he’s never been able to do. And then there’s the stuff you don’t figure in. “Even things like the running of the office during the day. We’ve had to juggle so many other things. We spent more than half the day on paperwork and e-mails, and it was when we left work that we could get creative. Now we’ll be creating 24/7. To be able to do that all the time will be such a luxury.”
Kane has already had a taste of what this intense new freedom will be like. “Even not doing Versace this season, I feel so much better. I did my pre-fall collection in two weeks. It was a great exercise, because it shows you what you can do.” That would suggest he actually responds well to pressure. “Sometimes when you’re rushed, you create your best work,” he agrees. “But it was always really rushed. Now we’ll have time to execute the ideas.” Anyway, the pressure is scarcely off. There’s the show in February, which will now draw even more attention than usual, not just to Kane but to London. The same thing happened to Alexander McQueen in another decade, but one major difference is that there’s no chance Kane will be leaving anytime in the foreseeable future.
Times have changed. Kane proves a designer can dream the grandest dreams without having to leave home (albeit an adopted one) to make them come true. “Success is so powerful,” he says. “We all want to conquer the world. And the world is our oyster with PPR. They’ve got huge resources, huge brains, and I take this as a huge compliment, and a huge security. But I just want to continue with what I’m doing.”
Best of all, the new deal restores a critical balance to Kane’s story. He’d never be where he is now without his sister Tammy, but as the business grew, she took on more and more of the practicalities and had less time for the fun stuff with her brother. “Now she’ll be with me again,” Kane says. And that’s a real happy ending.