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LVMH Buys a Majority Stake in Virgil Abloh's Off-White Brand

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LVMH Moët Hennessy is acquiring a majority stake in Off-White LLC, the trademark owner of Virgil Abloh's Off-White brand. LVMH and Virgil Abloh have also agreed to an agreement that will give the designer leeway to launch brands and seal partnerships across the full range of the luxury conglomerate's activities, beyond just the fashion division.

As part of the agreement, LVMH will raise its stake in Off-White LLC to 60 percent. Abloh will retain a 40 percent interest and continue as creative director of the label, which he founded in 2014. Italian holding company New Guards Group will stay on as a licensee for Off-White. Meanwhile, Abloh will remain artistic director of the men's wear collections at Louis Vuitton. 

Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH, said the group was "thrilled" to expand its partnership with the 40-year-old American designer, who is known for his wide-ranging collaborations.

"We look forward to supporting Virgil and the team both in driving the growth of Off-White and in working together with Virgil to bring his unique sensibility to a broader range of luxury categories," Arnault said in the statement. 

In a joint interview, Abloh and Michael Burke, chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton, said the deal marked a new type of relationship between a creative director and a conglomerate like LVMH, which owns 75 brands ranging from Vuitton and Dior to beauty retailer Sephora, jeweler Tiffany & Co. and Hennessy cognac.

"I'm completely honored. There's a long trajectory of creative directors partnering with a house but this is something completely new, and I commend Mr. Arnault and Michael Burke for seeing my talent across spectrums and incubating me to a place where I can suggest different things that don't fall in the realm of a runway show," Abloh said. 

"It's not like LVMH is playing a standard role, or Virgil is playing a standard scripted role. We're both going into this knowing that we're going to be inventing new business models as we go. It's going to depend on the industry, the product, what exists, what remains to be invented, so we're not going into it with a cookie-cutter recipe," he said. 

The strategy comes as LVMH deepens its foothold in experiential luxury- with the recent opening of Cipriani restaurant in Saint-Tropez, and a Cheval Blanc hotel set to bow in Paris in September- and luxury brands like Vuitton expand their partnerships into the worlds of sports, music and gaming.

Off-White operates 56 stand-alone stores worldwide, and more are on the way. In Paris, the brand recently opened a flagship at the intersection of Rue de Castiglione and Rue du Mont Thabor that includes a café operated with boutique Japanese coffee company % Arabica. 

Abloh, who last year raised $1 million for a scholarship fund for Black fashion students, said he was committed to keeping the door open for diverse talent. "Today just marks a day where I'm given a seat at the table for us to do more, and not be limited by the past," he concluded.

Barack Ferrazzano is lead counsel to Louis Vuitton in the deal. The team is led by senior partner and founder Peter J. Barack, Corporate & Securities and Fashion, Luxury & Retail Group chair Daniel L. Dominguez, and associate Kaitlyn E. Kelly. Intellectual Property Group co-chair Scott J. Slavick assisted with intellectual property matters, Tax & Business Planning Group co-chair Michael J. Towne and associate Megan E. Toal provided guidance with respect to the tax aspects of the transaction.

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