Fast Retailing expands Lemaire deal, takes stake in designer's brand
Japan’s Fast Retailing announced Tuesday that it has taken a minority interest in Lemaire, the brand established in France by Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran, and also that its further deepening the Uniqlo relationship with the man who is its artistic director at its Paris R&D Centre.
Lemaire’s brand is known for its contemporary men's and women's ready-to-wear, shoes and accessories and will remain a key focus for the designer, despite Fast Retailing extending its partnership with him as Uniqlo Artistic Director for an additional five years. That post saw him overseeing the recent designs for Roger Federer that gained so much publicity at Wimbledon.
It will be interesting to see how the Fast Retailing stake in his own brand affects that label’s development. The Japanese firm’s pockets are deep and could provide the kind of support that so many independents dream of.
But on Tuesday the company was saying little about just what will happen now. "Our appointment of Christophe Lemaire two years ago was timed to coincide with the opening of our new R&D Center in Paris and the launch of Uniqlo U," said Tadashi Yanai, Chairman, President & CEO of the retail giant. "This followed a successful initial collaboration, when I was impressed with the outstanding talent of Mr Lemaire and his experience as a designer. I am pleased to deepen our partnership even more, and I hope that our new level of involvement will help to facilitate further growth and development of the brand Lemaire."
Meanwhile, the designer said that working with Uniqlo has "proven extremely stimulating. I have deep respect for Mr Yanai's LifeWear philosophy, and we share a common vision of what clothes should be: democratic, functional and qualitative for people in everyday life. I am proud of what my team and I have achieved at the Paris R&D Center these two years, and I am excited to pursue the development of the Uniqlo U line."
Sarah-Linh Tran added that the partnership is "a coherent and natural evolution” of Fast Retailing's relationship with the Lemaire brand. "We fully agreed with Fast Retailing that we will pursue organic growth, and we are very much looking forward to develop the brand with their support and confidence."
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