LVMH regional Asia Chairman Ravi Thakran says there are many rising fashion stars in Asia that have the potential to go global.
Ravi Thakran discovered South Korean luxury eyewear brand Gentle Monster the good old-fashioned way – through the grapevine. “My attraction came not because I knew the brand or its figures but because I was told there was this brand at Incheon Airport that was so popular it was restricting travellers from not buying more than two pieces per boarding pass,” he says.
The next time he visited Seoul, Thakran – who is the chairman and managing partner of L Catterton Asia (the private equity firm formed through the partnership of Catterton, LVMH and Groupe Arnault) and the group chairman of LVMH South and Southeast Asia, Australia and Middle East – dropped by the Gentle Monster boutique.
Thakran says the company will invest in making that happen, leveraging its strategic relationship with LVMH and Groupe Arnault where necessary. “With labels like Charles & Keith and Gentle Monster, we will prep them to take on the world and also guide them to go step by step,” he says.
It may not seem obvious to the casual observer, but there is a difference between LVMH and L Catterton. “LVMH is about luxury, whether it is Dom Perignon champagne or Dior dresses – the single thread you weave through LVMH is luxury,” says Thakran. “LVMH also owns everything under their umbrella, they don’t look at exits; they take a brand with the intention of keeping it.
“At L Catterton Asia, we focus on layers below luxury primarily. We want to partner with entrepreneurs as compared to owning the asset and make both minority and majority deals.”
Up next, Japan is in L Catterton Asia’s sights. “We see innovation and creativity in Japan and we need to be there,” he says, noting that the company has set up a new office in Tokyo. Last November, it closed its first deal with Owndays, which offers rapid service prescription glasses. “It is a fantastic business model. Nowhere else can you get glasses in twenty minutes.”
What makes China so appealing is the many lifestyle trends, such as fitness and wellness, that offer retail potential. “When I went to China in the early ’90s, I’d never see anyone going to the gym, running for fitness or walking a dog. Today, China has become the largest fitness growth arena in the world – in 2017, over five million runners participated in 1,100 marathons,” he says.
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