It's easy to assume that a well-recognised brand like Valentino would already part of a fashion conglomerate—it's not. Well, at least not quite. The Italian couture house is owned by Qatari investment fund Mayhoola—backed by the Qatari royal family—since its acquisition in 2012. The group also owns Balmain as well as Italian menswear brand Pal Zileri.
Kering Group is about to change that. The French fashion conglomerate has made an announcement to acquire a 30 per cent shareholding stake of Valentino for EUR1.7 billion. The deal also includes an option for 100 per cent ownership of Valentino that's valid by 2028. While that's still quite a long way to go (should Kering decide to hold out to the very last minute) the potential for the group to exercise that option seems likely.
Valentino reported a revenue of EUR1.42 billion for 2022, a 10 per cent increase from the year before. That may not be much as compared to Kering-owned luxury houses, but it's a significant increase as compared to top-earner Gucci's revenue bump for the same period. Gucci reported an 8 per cent increase in revenue for 2022, while Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta each experienced double-digit percentage growth.
Fully acquiring Valentino could help Kering tap into its couture-buying clientele. But more than that, a Kering-backed Valentino could signal a different future for the couture house.
Valentino's strength lies in its dreamy couture creations. It's the bedrock of the house that informs its other lines. And while the aspirational messaging is clear and undoubtedly beautiful, it often doesn't translate as efficiently across the more relatively affordable ready-to-wear creations. Kering's involvement could help strengthen Valentino's messaging and ensure a more intentional consistency across every facet of the house's overall universe and (hopefully) without impeding the awe-inspiring creativity of its haute couture.
It's not that Valentino is a stranger to collaborations—remember the one with Birkenstocks and Undercover in 2019?—but rather, it hasn't really capitalised on it much. Not being involved in many collaborations isn't a bad thing either but being part of a group like Kering, a bit more may be in store. Kering-owned brands Gucci and Balenciaga are big on collaborations—they've even partnered up in 2021 for an unprecedented two-prong series—and Valentino could probably do the same.
We're not expecting a random Disney-led collaboration either. Kering doesn't seem to be one to force an unlikely collaboration, finding partnerships that align with a brand's aesthetic such as Balenciaga with Crocs, and Saint Laurent's many artistic-led collaborations outside of fashion.
Kering Group has its own eyewear division that manufactures eyewear for its luxury houses as well as those outside of its umbrella of brands. Valentino is currently in a 10-year agreement with Switzerland-based Akoni Group that's slated to end in July 2032. Being part of Kering could see Valentino's eyewear manufacturing move in-house with a more focused narrative that seeks to strengthen the overall messaging of the house.
This may not be ideal but seeing how Kering—and counterpart LVMH—tends to operate, there could be a potential change in the creative director seat eventually. But hopefully, this ranks low in Kering's priority when it comes to making Valentino a force to be reckoned with.