Avant garde designer Chalayan, better known for his unusual fashion creations - including a wooden skirt that doubles as portable furniture and clothing that transforms at the flip of a switch - will become the first-ever creative director at Puma, which has now become the majority stakeholder in the designer's eponymous label. (Puma itself is just over 62% owned by luxury conglomerate PPR.)
"Hussein Chalayan is a proven visionary in the fashion industry," Jochen Zeitz, chairman and CEO of the German-based company, recently told WWD. "As creative director, he will bring use of new technology, forward-thinking design and a provocative point of view to Puma...Acquiring majority shares of the Hussein Chalayan brand is giving Puma the ability to move into a new space, expanding our reach to become the most desirable sports lifestyle company in the world... Puma also will help to build Chalayan's business internationally, according to Zeitz. "The time has come now for [Chalayan] to fully expand his potential and build his brand. It is the best opportunity [for Chalayan] to evolve in a retail environment."
In 2007, Puma sold 1.48 billion euros ($2.02 billion) worth of footwear, up almost 2% over the previous year, and 998.7 million euros ($1.37 billion) in branded clothing (a 6% increase). The Puma Sport Fashion and lifestyle group of premium-priced shoes, clothing and accessories - available at a few Puma stores, concept stores, and in-shop boutiques will now be overseen by Chalayan. "My way of thinking is very appropriate for sports," explains the designer. "There is something in sportswear that is less transient than in fashion. You are constantly building and developing products and technology." Says Zeitz: "Combining Puma's infrastructure and technological platform with PPR facilities, we will be able to turn experimental ideas into reality, both for the Puma and Chalayan lines. Hopefully people will have the means to access real products evolving from our process rather than only seeing them in shows and events."
This isn't the first time the sporty brand has tried on a designer look. "[Puma] was the first to use the word 'fashion' in our strategy and to do collaborations with designers such as Jil Sander and Neil Barrett," says Zeitz, noting that they have also collaborated with Alexander McQueen, Philippe Starck, Italy's Ducati motorcycles, accessories with Dutch designer Marcel Wanders, and denim with Evisu under the label Dassler. (via WWD)
- Lesley Scott
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