It's been tough keeping this one quiet, but at the stroke of midnight today, January 15th 2013, at last the news became public (my lip has been buttoned for ages). Christopher Kane the 30-year-old Glasgow born designer has sold a 51% stake of his business to the PPR Group in order to develop his business into a global luxury fashion brand.
This is brilliant news for a designer who graduated eight years ago with his Fashion MA from Central Saint Martins, and became an instant critical and commercial success. It makes today a very good day for British fashion and the education and grant system that supports and nurtures young talent, including not least the NEWGEN scheme which launched Chris into London Fashion Week for his first colour-popping show in September 2006, for S/S S2007. (Although sadly, if Christopher Kane was looking for a university place in England today, his 18 year old self would not be able to afford the fees.)
Even better, Kane will not be moving his catwalk shows to Paris; he stays in London.
In aligning with PPR Group (Printemps-Pinault-Redoute) Kane joins an impressive portfolio of luxury brands jockeying for 21st Century domination including Balenciaga (with newbie Alexander Wang as creative director), Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent with Hedi Slimane at the helm. His achievement is particularly sweet given the biggest fashion rumour connected to his name over 2012 was that he may be heading up design at Balenciaga following his departure from Versus, and the departure of Nicolas Ghesquiere from Balenciaga. "The Balenciaga thing wasn't a bad thing" Kane told Style.com, "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."
If this still leaves you slightly baffled as to its significance for Kane and the wider fashion picture, here are a few reasons why this is important news. Fans of Christopher Kane can rejoice in the knowledge that the Dalston, East London based designer will now be able to A) open stores globally over time, B) launch leather goods (woop!) C) spend more time creating his signature collection and less time on paperwork and the running of what was very much a family business with a small team of close confidantes.
"He is still the one and only graduate who was ever awarded New Gen funding right out of college," says Sarah Mower MBE the BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent who discovered Kane while he was still at university. "We took a risk, which was stunningly well rewarded with his first neon-bandage show in Holland Park in September 2006 - one of the best London fashion shows ever and one which not only launched him, but marked the beginning of the wave of creativity and self-confidence which has transformed London in the eyes of the world." As head of the New Gen who has nurtured Kane from day one, Mower is also understandably pleased that he is staying loyal to his homeland. "I'm thrilled that Christopher has no thought of showing anywhere but London. That fact is the absolute proof and endorsement of how this city has been transformed as the international platform for new ideas."
For Kane and his business partner and sister Tammy Kane this means they needn't worry financially for a long time to come. Selling 51% of your company to one of the world's most powerful luxury groups is a mahoosive payday. Alexander McQueen is rumoured to have got £30 million in 2000 when he sold a 51% stake to the Gucci Group (as the fashion arm of PPR was still called then when it was co-run by Tom Ford).
It is worth noting that what Christopher has pulled off is even more impressive than it looks, as PPR group has not backed a young designer for a decade. Indeed, this is the very first fashion acquisition actively made by PPR chairman Francois-Henri Pinault; all the previous acquisitions were made under the leadership of Tom Ford and Domenico de Sole.
Francois-Henri Pinault described Kane as “ A truly great talent who in just a few years he has built a very distinctive and exciting brand with a unique DNA." For his part Kane told US Vogue "Tammy and I have been dreaming of what we would do since I was about nine years old...we instinctively feel that PPR understand what we’re about and how we can grow- not headlong, but step by step. It’s fantastic to have that sense of security.”
I'm so proud of Christopher and Tammy and utterly delighted for them. They have been building their brand cleverly and diligently from day one, and it really couldn't happen to nicer people. Onwards!