In a recent interview, Karl Lagerfeld CEO Pier Paolo Righi discussed the brand’s success, expansion into new markets, and plans for preserving Lagerfeld’s legacy. Despite the designer’s passing, the house of Karl Lagerfeld experienced a remarkable 50% increase in turnover last year. To celebrate Lagerfeld’s iconic style, the brand showcased a capsule collection of his famous white shirts at Pitti, along with menswear looks and sporty footwear. The shirts, created by Lagerfeld’s friends and family, were sold to benefit the charity C’est la Vie. After being displayed in Dubai, Moscow, and New York, there are now considerations for a semi-permanent exhibition of the collection in Paris.
Righi emphasized the importance of the white shirt in the Karl Lagerfeld brand, stating that it will become a legacy item featured in future collections for both men and women. However, there are no plans to return to the runway with a full collection, as Lagerfeld did not want to compete with the grandeur of Chanel’s shows. Despite this stance, the brand has experienced rapid growth in recent years, with an annual compound rate of 30% over the past five years. Righi believes that future growth will not be significantly different without Lagerfeld’s presence.
Currently, the house of Karl Lagerfeld has around 100 franchise boutiques and an equal number of directly operated boutiques. Additionally, digital sales have seen a rapid increase, accounting for nearly 30% of total turnover. The brand has also forged partnerships with popular online retailers such as Yoox, Zalando, and LuisaViaRoma. While Righi mentioned that the brand is “nicely profitable,” specific figures were not disclosed.
Carine Roitfeld, a close collaborator of Lagerfeld, will continue to be involved with the brand as a style advisor, working alongside creative director Hun Kim. Lagerfeld also had collaborations with influencer Olivia Palermo, and there are plans for further collaborations in the future.
Righi reflected on the difficult time after Lagerfeld’s passing but also expressed the team’s pride in being the guardians of his legacy. Lagerfeld continuously supported and provided positive feedback in his final years, showing pride in the brand’s independence and success. The brand will continue to work with Lagerfeld’s confidant, Sébastien Jondeau, who will serve as a brand ambassador.
Regarding the possibility of a stock market flotation, Righi stated that it is not currently being considered but may be an option in the future. Righi, who joined Karl Lagerfeld in 2011, brings a different background to the brand, having previously worked for Nike. Despite their differences, Righi believes that Lagerfeld appreciated his unique perspective.
Under Righi’s leadership, the Karl Lagerfeld brand is thriving, with a focus on accessibility, reduced price positioning, and digital engagement with a younger audience. The brand’s success has allowed for the opening of new headquarters in Amsterdam. With a clear direction and strong growth, the future of Karl Lagerfeld looks promising as it continues to honor the legacy of one of fashion’s greatest icons.