In the past months, there has been speculation that Chanel will be courted by or seeking companies for purchase, just like other fellow luxury brands. Versace the most recent addition to the list, after being bought for $2 billion by Capri Holdings. But Chanel countered, taking the unprecedented move of releasing its earnings and finances this summer. Recently, it made another step to support the idea of maintaining its independence. Chanel has officially acquired Orlebar Brown, a British swimwear brand that has the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio as among its fans.
The exact amount of the purchase was not publicized, although it was reported that Chanel bought all the shares from Piper and Adam Brown, the company’s founder. Brown will still be a presence on the brand however, remaining as its creative director. At the moment, it is unknown how much creative influence Karl Lagerfeld will have over the smaller company.
It was seen as a logical move for Chanel considering how the swimwear division for men is not one to be given much attention, spare for a few collections here and there. This might even be a part of the French brand’s goal to establish a stronger line for its menswear as a whole. Just recently, it even announced a line of men’s cosmetics, a first for the brand. Orlebar Brown has gained the praise for its quality shirts, trunks and general swimwear, and is indeed profitable for Chanel despite the former’s size, expected to generate a generous sum by the end of the year. It has not been the first niche purchase from Chanel, having owned Eres, a swimwear and lingerie brand for women, beforehand.
For the British brand, the acquisition means more global recognition. The company was only founded in 2007, and under Chanel would be a perfect place to develop the brand even further. Of the purchase, Brown says, “In Chanel, we have found the perfect home for the brand to continue to thrive and grow. I am very much looking forward to this exciting and enduring partnership and to building Orlebar Brown in the future.” It currently has a website which caters to customers from 105 different countries, and physical presence in the UK where it was founded, France, Greece, Spain, the United States, UAE, Australia and Kuwait.
Not eyeing a conglomerate
Despite the purchase of smaller companies, Chanel is not looking to be at the level of other European companies like Kering and LVMH, both of which have a string of luxury companies under their wing. Capri Holdings, which formerly was known as Michael Kors Holdings, meanwhile, has goals to become the first American company to operate the same way as LVMH and Kering, legitimized by its buying of Versace. The difference can be explained easier through the generated profit of the different labels under these companies, most of which earn billions of dollars a year, in contrast with the income of smaller brands under Chanel.
Chanel is also not looking to expand mainly for profit, if its financial status that it has revealed a few months ago is proof enough. This is quite a feat, considering how it has strictly maintained its luxury status, keeping its items mostly within physical stores and retailers. It may benefit though and venture into e-commerce, basing off the success of Orlebar Brown online. We’ll have the coming months to find out if the Lagerfeld-led brand will take on a different direction for the company.
Image credits: Orlebar Brown, Chanel, Getty Images, Pascal Le Segretain