Business of HYPE: Alexandre Arnault and Kim Jones
Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders and entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. On the Season 6 premiere, Jeff sits down with RIMOWA CEO Alexandre Arnault and Dior Men‘s Artistic Director, Kim Jones.
How a young, innovative CEO turned a century-old luggage brand into a forerunner disrupting contemporary fashion can be a bit of a mystery for some, but for the 27-year-old it comes as no surprise. The son of industry icon and Chairman of LVMH, Bernard Arnault, Alexandre was practically born with a business mindset having been exposed to the granular details of the fashion world since a young child.
Alexandre originally met Dieter Morszeck — Chief Executive of RIMOWA and the grandson of its founder – to consult and invest in the brand in hopes of gaining insight into their suitcase-making process. Because RIMOWA was a family-owned business, Alexandre had no intentions of taking over the company nor was he aware the company was up for sale. Over the course of 18 months, Alexandre realized that Dieter no longer wanted to pass RIMOWA to his son and instead was looking to sell the company. Through LVMH’s interest in creating an organic relationship with RIMOWA and its longstanding history of respect and care for their brands, Dieter trusted the brand under the LVMH umbrella.
In 2016, LVMH acquired the company and Dieter appointed Alexandre to be its CEO at just 24 years old. With RIMOWA’s long history as a family-owned brand, he took deep measures to upscale the company, while preserving its 121-year-old history and dedication to craftsmanship and quality by creating stronger storytelling and a new visual identity that helped reboot and spread brand awareness. Each case is still handcrafted by skilled specialists making each German-engineered RIMOWA suitcase truly one-of-a-kind.
“People knew about the brand without knowing about the brand. You see here Alex Israel, Virgil Abloh…still from afar you can say they’re RIMOWA suitcases. It’s a canvas where people express themselves, and the magical expression of two identities that stay true themselves.”
At its core, RIMOWA is a utilitarian object—a quality that Alexandre says makes the company unique in comparison to most retail brands. Given this distinct positioning, the company’s creative bandwidth has allowed for some of the most notable collaborations in streetwear with brands like Fendi, Off-White™, and Supreme. These collaborations came about through his organic friendships and desire for the brand to focus on inclusivity, most recently seen in their partnership with Dior.
From backpacks and crossbody bags, to a champagne carrier and hand case all emblemed in Dior’s house logo in a sleek ombre blue, RIMOWA’s collaboration aptly denotes the pristine, cutting-edge style of Kim Jones and his globetrotting lifestyle. The British designer, currently Dior Men’s Artistic Director, boasts an impressive resume having worked with Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Alex Dunhill and many more. To say he’s influential might understate the ingenuity behind his progressive designs.
“Those aluminum clutches are a new accessory that take our DNA and our aluminum know-how and apply it to what Dior knows how to do, which are handbags. Right now the suitcase is only part of your travel journey. We want to find a way to connect with consumers on a daily basis. The know-how, the craftsmanship, the design, the coolness, but you can carry your stuff inside all day.”
Elevating the the culture of travel, RIMOWA not only adheres to its robust design but focuses on pushing the boundaries of what fashion is today. Enveloped within an aluminum case is the blueprint of emerging streetwear, high-fashion luxury, and art—all of which has made RIMOWA the powerhouse it is today. Alexandre tells us that the Dior capsule is only a preview of the direction the company will be taking. Within three years, he’s managed to retain RIMOWA’s values, yet elevate the brand as a platform serving once opposing subcultures in fashion.
Within this episode, we also dive into the mind of streetwear connoisseur Kim Jones and hear about his current thoughts on modern fashion. So tune in to hear about Alexandre’s journey with RIMOWA and the inner workings of his collaboration with Dior.