With news of Matthew M Williams‘ appointment to the house of Givenchy still fresh, Quartz has reported of a new study published by investment company Bernstein. The analysis hints that “successful” creative directors of luxury fashion brands average a five year “expiry date.”
The report appears to underscore recent creative director moves, with data informed by big news like Raf Simons swapping Calvin Klein for Prada, Clare Waight Keller’s tenure as artistic director of Givenchy and Kim Jones‘ appointment to Dior. Bernstein considered company profitability, share prices and enterprise value (an estimation of total value) when appraising the performances of creative directors.
Crucially, Bernstein discovered that after a five year stretch with any one creative director, a company’s fortunes would decline. This may explain why powerhouses like LVMH and Kering are more keen to replace their creative directors in short timeframes, regardless of critical success or output. Bernstein’s other major finding supports this capital-driven theory: it found that each company’s profitability only increased the longer their CEO remained consistent.
Note that these findings aren’t without scrutiny. Bernstein’s sample size is derived from only 18 modern creative directors and doesn’t consider the correlation between creative directors and the company’s revenue source. For instance, labels like Hermès and Chanel are likely to profit greatly from accessories, bags, scents and shoes regardless of their creative leads. Furthermore, some creative directors are so new and some labels are so much smaller than the luxury giants that they were not considered when assembling the results.
Nevertheless, the idea that the flash of a new creative director will only provide a temporary boost to sales, regardless of output, isn’t without merit. Though also affected by coronavirus, Alessandro Michele‘s Gucci has recently seen slowing sales growth as the creative director nears his fifth year at the luxury house. Naturally, it’s unlikely that Michele will be shown the door any time soon, the moment may come where his vision for Gucci will be forced to shift to recapture the magic.