To kick off 2023, FashionNetwork.com asked leaders in the fashion and luxury industry to share their feelings about the year 2022 that just ended, but also their hopes and fears for 2023. Today, the leader of SMCP shares your vision.
Flagship of accessible French luxury, the group, which brings together the Sandro, Maje, Claudie Pierlot and Fursac brands and is present in more than forty countries around the world, welcomed Isabelle Guichot as director in 2021. Piloting a tricolor giant With a turnover of more than one billion euros, the leader, who joined the group in 2017 as CEO of Maje, has luxury in her professional DNA. She evolved remarkably during twelve years within the Kering group, at Sergio Rossi then at Balenciaga, and previously for the Swiss Richemont within Van Cleef & Arpels or even Lancel. At SMCP, she took the reins amid turmoil, between accusations of Uighur forced labor brought forward by NGOs, the financial difficulties of then-main shareholder Shadong Ruyi (her creditors, meeting in the trustee knell, they have since taken control) and the Covid-19 pandemic, and has been able to raise the bar with, during the first nine months of 2022, sales increasing by more than 20% to €879 million.
FashionNetwork.com: What was the highlight for you this year? And because?
Isabelle Guichot: Beyond the war in Ukraine, which was obviously one of the most significant events of the year given the resulting human tragedy and its geopolitical and economic implications, this year was marked by a high level of uncertainty and lack of visibility, for example, about the health situation in China or the evolution of economic parameters such as inflation or the cost of energy. On a more personal level, I am thinking of the struggles of women in the world and more particularly of the Iranian women who have been fighting for several months.
FNW: In your company, what was the main reason for satisfaction?
AMERICAN SOLDIER: After several years marked by Covid, I am obviously thinking of the commitment, resilience and adaptability of our formidable teams that have allowed all our brands to perform well. I am also thinking of the successful launch of CSR initiatives that were close to us: the deployment of second-hand or rental services…
FNW: What designer, fashion show, product or campaign caught your eye this year?
AMERICAN SOLDIER: Fursac’s first performance, of course! In June 2022, our brand joined the Men’s Fashion Week calendar. A great recognition of the profession for a modern and ambitious project led by Gauthier Borsarello, who knows how to respect the DNA and know-how of the brand with great subtlety.
FNW: What sustainable or social initiative or innovation do you consider?
AMERICAN SOLDIER: In March 2022, we became one of the first players in accessible luxury to offer our customers detailed and transparent information on the traceability of our products. Beyond being a transparency vector for our customers, our brands can now constantly analyze data and optimize the impact of their supply chain. Already implemented in one hundred references per collection, we plan to place a QR code that allows full traceability of each product in all products sold by the four brands of the group by 2025.
FNW: By 2023, in your opinion, what great challenge awaits the sector? And your business?
AMERICAN SOLDIER: By 2023, as in 2022, the entire sector will have to manage the challenge of inflation, with consumers whose purchasing power will be increasingly impacted. That is why at SMCP we do everything possible so that the desirability of our brands, from design to the presentation of our products in stores, is always the best, and we do so year after year. We will also be attentive to the recovery of activity in China and a “normalization” of the Asian markets.
FNW: What is your wish for this new year?
AMERICAN SOLDIER: A little more serenity. Since the beginning of Covid, we no longer know what a reference year looks like. If the relaxation of the levels of health restrictions pays off quickly in countries where the health crisis is still very much present, then we can expect the different continents to progress at a comparable rate. It would be a novelty in a long time! And if that doesn’t happen in 2023, then I wish us success to continue sailing as we have done so far, constantly adapting. I have full confidence in the ability of our teams to make 2023 a success, and I am an optimist by nature!
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