Paul Poiret Brand Has Been resurrected, As Shinsegae International Acquire the Dormant Couture Houses IP.

John Galliano for Christian Dior’s Fall 2009 ready-to-wear collection. Inspired by Paul Poiret.

John Galliano for Christian Dior’s Fall 2009 ready-to-wear collection. Inspired by Paul Poiret.

After almost 80 years out of the Couture trade, The Historic Paul Poiret brand has just been resurrected As Shinsegae International Acquire the Dormant Couture Houses IP.

Almost a year after it was put up for sale, the celebrated French fashion house Paul Poiret has been sold to South Korean conglomerate Shinsegae International. Arnaud de Lummen, managing director of Luxembourg-based holding company Luvanis, sold the brand's global trademark rights and an archive collection via online auction to Korean company Shingsegae International, a company that is known for working on retail partnerships with luxury brands like Givenchy, Céline and Burberry. The South Korean based company plans to redevelop Paul Poiret in Paris, across several product categories. 

As the Business of Fashion notes “Arnaud de Lummen has built a successful business resurrecting dormant fashion brands and selling them to investors.” Poiret is the latest in a series of brands to be repackaged for sale by De Lummen. Diego delle Valle invested in Schiaparelli in 2007, Matteo Marzotto invested in Vionnet in 2009, and Bernard Arnault invested in Moynat in 2010

Central to the success of these transactions is IP, which is used as a way to build the legitimacy of these “sleeping beauties”, as Mr de Lummen calls his brands. According to Pierre Mallevays, founder of Savigny Partners, that manages de Lummen's sales, “the first cardinal rule of a re-launch is that you have to have a…IP portfolio…” Which is necessary to be able to grow the brand internationally.

The way he has succeeded in doing this is through un-tapping the symbolic & cultural capital associated with the brand, and unearthing the above mentioned sleeping beauties dormant brand equity. This symbolic and cultural capital is then able to be turned into economic capital by association in the minds of consumers with the label’s history to market new product offerings, a strategy which is rooted in the belief that reviving an old name that retains its recognition value is simpler than launching a new one. These revivals are essentially an exchange of cultural capital, for financial capital on the part of the investors. As Mr de Lummen notes. “Brands can go dormant but they do not necessarily lose their value,...Some are too old-fashioned, but there are some that are timeless.”

The Savvy business owner, has used this business model to turn forgotten fashion brands into assets ready for relaunch, and according to De Lummen, who studied law at Harvard and worked in mergers and acquisitions at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, the international law firm before turning to fashion: “Without heritage, there cannot be a traditional luxury brand.” The financial details of his latest sale have not yet been disclosed but Mr de Lummen is known for reviving brands for anywhere between €1m and €10m, depending on the name and the intellectual property rights that come with it. In a nutshell his approach to the legal aspects of fashion business has been key to turning his business model into a successful strategy.

The House of Paul Poiret (1879 - 1944) defined the aesthetic of the early 1900’s. Known as the Picasso of fashion Poiret was influenced by the major artistic trends of the early twentieth century, especially orientalism and neoclassicism. His impact on fashion has never been forgotten and is why contemporary designers such as John Galliano of Dior and Nicolas Ghesquière and Dries Van Noten continue to cite Poiret as an inspiration. Commenting on the sale of Paul Poiret, Arnaud de Lumen has said that: “We are thrilled to present the unique opportunity to resurrect Paul Poiret’s label and to bring forward his vision of the modern woman. Paul Poiret never ceased to be timely and, with the increasing convergence between fashion and art, it is a great moment for Poiret to return to business.”