Why Revolve Is Buying Paris Couture House Alexandre Vauthier

PARIS – Alexandre Vauthier has found a buyer.

Revolve, the US e-tailer which also operates luxury site FWRD, will acquire the French haute couture house out of administration. The deal will allow the label to retain its nearly 50 employees and return to the Paris couture calendar, the companies told BoF in an exclusive interview Tuesday. Financial terms of the court-supervised deal were not disclosed.

It also marks the first time Revolve has acquired a fashion label since 2015, when it snapped up Lovers + Friends and its parent company Alliance Apparel, which became the cornerstone of a push to develop its own brands.

Revolve and Paris-based Vauthier may appear to be strange bedfellows: most of the e-commerce player’s 22 in-house labels (which account for 20 percent of sales) are more accessibly priced ventures. Some are created in partnership with tastemakers and influencers like Aimee Song, who play a key role in driving traffic to the platform.

But Revolve’s FWRD unit has been a stockist of Vauthier since the brand’s infancy, when it was a champion of the label through its Elyse Walker chain of brick-and-mortar stores.

“They know me since the beginning — I’m so happy it’s them who are buying the brand,” Alexandre Vauthier said

Alexandre Vauthier takes a bow. (Alexandre Vauthier)

For Revolve, adding a top-end designer concept to its roster represents the “next step in our brand building,” CEO Michael Mente said. The brand is in the midst of a marketing shift, and has increasingly been pulling back on the influencer-centric approach it’s so known for.

“Influencer marketing is just one arrow in our quiver. … In a scary economy for emerging brands; we want to be proactive about finding great talent that needs support.”

The 15 year-old Alexandre Vauthier label, which is one of just 15 brands authorised to use France’s haute couture designation, is known for an aesthetic mixing power dress and sensuality. The brand built a cult following for its glitzy evening ensembles and supple, elegant suiting, achieving revenues of €16.3 million ($17.49 million) in 2020 according to the French companies register.

But Vauthier went into administration in February after years of fighting to survive in a volatile market for independent luxury brands, particularly since the pandemic.

Turbulence at wholesale stockists as well as chronic late payments for collections had taken a toll on the company’s ready-to-wear and shoe businesses, Vauthier says, even as the house’s haute couture sales surged by 75 percent year-on-year during the past 12 months.

Collapsing sales to clients from Russia since the 2022 invasion of Ukraine haven’t helped. More recently, the brand has had to navigate mounting instability in the Middle East.

“The retail system never really went back to normal after Covid-19. Consumption has been extremely irregular, and it became impossible to maintain a treasury,” Vauthier said.

A model walks down a runway wearing a black dress
British singer FKA Twigs at Vogue World Paris wearing Alexandre Vauthier. (Getty Images)

While the partnership is still in its infancy, Revolve says it plans to invest in reinforcing Vauthier’s corporate structure, as well as aiming to leverage its trove of customer data to inform broader merchandising across price points and categories.

Vauthier echoed the ambition to revamp and expand merchandising, notably seeking to increase exposure to footwear (currently just 10 percent of sales) and bags. The designer also hopes that steadier financial backing will allow it to retool its wholesale exposure, cutting back underperforming doors in a bid to burnish its exclusive image.

After sitting out Paris’ couture weeks in January and June, Vauthier plans to return to the calendar next season. Two of Vauthier’s custom creations were on display for Condé Nast’s “Vogue World” spectacle Sunday night, modelled by the musicians FKA Twigs on the runway in Place Vendôme and Katy Perry at an afterparty at Maxim’s.

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