AZ Factory, the fashion brand launched by the late Alber Elbaz, is undergoing a transformation with a new business model and a strong emphasis on collaborations. Mauro Grimaldi, strategic advisor to the CEO of Richemont’s fashion and accessories division, shares insights into the brand’s journey and its plans for the future.

Despite the unfortunate passing of Alber Elbaz, the Richemont Group made the decision to press ahead with the AZ Factory project, showing their commitment to its values and independent design. Currently employing around thirty people, the brand is dedicated to upholding Elbaz’s vision of promoting a collective working environment and creating fashion for women.

Grimaldi delves into the brand’s new business model, which prioritizes collaboration with designers rather than established brands. AZ Factory has embarked on numerous collaborations, working with both established and up-and-coming designers. The aim is to bring fresh perspectives and diverse identities to the brand, fueling experimentation and innovation.

In 2022 alone, AZ Factory has already initiated eight collaborations, showcasing their dedication to pushing boundaries and curating an impressive range. These collaborations serve as a platform to demonstrate the brand’s vitality and adaptability. As AZ Factory moves into its next phase of development, their focus is on establishing a solid business foundation.

When choosing collaborators, AZ Factory seeks out young designers who have already launched their own brands, as well as independent designers who are at a turning point in their careers. Additionally, the brand collaborates with emerging talents, presenting their collections during Couture Week, bridging the gap between Haute Couture and the Gen Z audience.

AZ Factory has also ventured into unconventional partnerships, such as collaborating with a Milanese DJ collective to curate the brand’s music and produce clubbing-themed T-shirts. Another collaboration involves working with the foundation of streetwear designer Bas Timmer, who uses recycled materials from AZ Factory’s stock to create sleeping bags for the homeless.

The brand presents its collections during pre-collection showcases in January and June. Lutz Huelle, a collaborator, has become a permanent designer at AZ Factory and is entrusted with the design of pre-collections. Additionally, the brand provides opportunities for unknown designers to create mini collections during Haute Couture events.

These collaborations have resulted in commercial versions of the designs, highlighting AZ Factory’s commitment to both creativity and commercial viability. The brand acts as an incubator for young talents who have the potential to become future industry stars.

What sets AZ Factory apart from other brands is its unique business model. The brand sees itself as an art gallery specializing in fashion, curating designer-artists to create collections for its exhibitions. By investing in independent designers and innovative ideas, rather than relying on heritage brands, AZ Factory positions itself as a democratic fashion brand that offers creative, high-quality products at the right price.

To further enhance the tactile and playful dimension of fashion, AZ Factory is expanding into the realm of pop-up spaces. After a successful trial last year, the brand is opening a new temporary space in the vibrant Marais district of Paris. Plans are in place to replicate this pop-up concept on an international scale, offering physical spaces at captivating locations and during opportune times.

In addition to its online presence, AZ Factory is distributed through e-commerce partners such as Farfetch and Net-A-Porter, as well as around fifty multi-brand retailers. The brand values these commercial partnerships and recognizes their significance in supporting designers.

Currently, AZ Factory’s main markets include the United States, France, the UK, and Germany. However, the Middle East, Japan, and China are emerging as important markets for the brand’s growth.

Looking ahead, AZ Factory aims to continue supporting designers and maintaining the spirit of surprise and creative chaos that Alber Elbaz cherished. With its focus on collaboration and innovation, the brand is set on an exciting path for the future, meeting the demands of consumers who seek new fashion codes and unique experiences.

Useful links:
Official AZ Factory Website
Farfetch