After only 19 months at the head of Roberto Cavalli, designer Peter Dundas has confirmed his departure from the luxury brand. The Italian label announced Dundas’ exit first on Wednesday, leaving little question as to where the decision originated from. Across both hemispheres, the luxury market is in decline, posting the lowest figures since 2009 – just after the global economic crash. Brands are struggling to keep up and, due to market pressures and stakeholder and investor expectations, Roberto Cavalli has found itself in dire need of restructuring.
Although last year the brand posted a net profit that soared above the previous year’s net loss, Chief Executive Officer Gian Giacomo Ferraris decided it wasn’t enough. In fact, as Ferraris saw it, the entire company needed to undergo a transformation. In a statement to the press, Ferraris said, “The fashion industry is facing uniquely challenging times, with changing consumer demands, significant contraction in various key markets, and fundamental transformation in the industry’s dynamics. In this environment, only iconic brands with a coherent business model and an efficient organisation can survive. After my initial examination of the company, I believe the Cavalli brand has what it takes to succeed. But the reality is that the company’s costs must be in line with its revenues and that is the task we now have to embark upon.”
According to the New York Times, “Mr. Dundas’ departure follows a period of instability in both the boardroom and design studio for the house of Cavalli; Clessidra, an Italian private equity outfit, bought a 90 percent stake in the brand last year for an estimated 390 million euros, or about 430 million dollars, and has since outlined plans for a complete creative and commercial overhaul of the company.” Part of Roberto Cavalli’s “complete creative and commercial overhaul” means a new Creative Director, whom Ferraris promised to announce “in due course”.
Although it may sound heartless to say that Dundas seems to have been dismissed from his position due to failure to deliver the bottom line, this story also illustrates the changing nature of fashion. In the 21st century, fashion is an industry and a business first – and thoughtful social, artistic, and psychological commentary as a distant second. However, some insiders believe that Dundas left of his own volition, potentially for a more prominent role at a different brand. Only time will tell where Dundas lands and who will be named to the helm of Roberto Cavalli. Keep your eyes on Savoir Flair as we continue to track the story.