PARIS — Zadig & Voltaire founder Thierry Gillier is shaking things up at his accessible luxury house.
Gillier will take over the role of artistic director of the brand, as well as the management of the 150-person strong design studio. Current artistic director Cecilia Bönström will depart, effective immediately.
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In addition, he brought his brother Arnaud Gillier on board as president of the company, effective Jan. 17. Current chief executive officer Rémy Baume will also leave his position. Baume will depart at the end of February, after transitioning his duties to Arnaud.
Gillier, 64, started the business in 2007. He framed the latest moves as both returning the brand direction to its rock ‘n’ roll roots and taking the brand into a new era.
“It’s a big change, but it was an opportunity….We need to move forward. It’s become more of a family house, and this is what I wanted,” Gillier told WWD.
“I can really be in the creative department and Arnaud focusing on the business. I don’t want to do that anymore,” Gillier said. “He’s really more of a business guy.”
The two cofounded a textile company called ATG, which operated for a decade before Gillier founded Zadig & Voltaire. They also come from a knitwear manufacturing family in the French city of Troyes.
Arnaud stepped away from the family business for a career in tech and pharma, working with investment funds on takeovers. He will bring this finance knowledge to the company.
Gillier remains the majority shareholder while Luxembourg-based private equity fund Peninsula snapped up a minority 30 percent of the company in 2020 for an undisclosed sum.
Gillier said that a new creative organization will be revealed in the coming months, but indicated that may mean guest designers and he does not plan to hire a marquee name. He will keep hold of the reins of the design studio, and present his first collection in October. Whether he holds a fashion show is yet to be decided.
Gillier said he has continually worked side-by-side with Bönström and was behind successful knitwear designs and other bestsellers.
“I’ve never been out of the studio, and it was time to put my vision again in the studio. Zadig is the biggest rock brand, and we have to focus on that,” he said. “It’s time to move the studio to another level. It needed change and this is good timing.”
That change will encompass both product and communications, though no changes in the staffing levels are anticipated. Gillier maintained that the design team is strong and this redirection is intended to return the brand back to his original vision.
“We have to do better, and have more cohesion and be more creative,” he said. Gillier had been concentrating on managing business matters and is eager to move back to the design side.
For now, the company’s retail strategy will not change, but the structure may shift in the future. “Today we have to rethink everything. We had seen a big rise in the business [pre-COVID-19], but today it is flat, so we have to reinvent for the future.”
The company has 350 points of sale worldwide, and the privately held company reported sales of “around 450 million euros” in 2023, which was stable compared to its 2022 level.
The retail strategy “is a work in progress,” but will not change in the near future.
Accessories account for roughly 40 percent of the business, and Gillier intends to focus on this category in an effort to boost sales, as well as concentrate on the growing category of menswear.
He is also looking at expansion in other categories such as hospitality, following the success of his Chateau Voltaire hotel in Paris. “It has been a real success, and we have a lot of opportunities with that category in the new era,” he said.
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