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Saint Laurent’s CEO on how to build a luxury brand strategy

FT Luxury Summit, the annual thought leadership gathering for the luxury sector, kicked off yesterday with a plethora of esteemed speakers including Barneys COO, Daniella Vitale, Google’s head of fashion, Lisa Green, and Tiffany & Co’s CEO, Frederic Cumenal.

This year’s Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit was geared towards the current technological revolution, though the final guest of the day, Saint Laurent’s CEO Francesca Belletini spoke more openly about creating an authentic brand story, Hedi Slimane’s departure and his profound impact on the business.

Here are a few notable soundbites live from the conference in San Francisco:

On the brand’s resurgence under Hedi: “Since 2012, with the appointment of Hedi Slimane, brand clarity was brought back to the brand. You need clarity of a brand to bring growth. What was missing in 2012 was a fashion authority. Hedi had incredible vision for the brand and brought the code back to life. It was based on the foundation on the brand, it’s exactly what was done by Saint Laurent”

On being the pioneers of gender fluidity: “Saint Laurent has always done that; Saint Laurent was always men and woman. Heidi did that in such an organic way and a younger generation recognised that as authentic”

On understanding that no one is 100% brand loyal: “If you want to focus on your client, you need to accept local clients want to shop wherever they like”

On the makeup of Saint Laurent’s sales: “65% retail, 30% wholesale and 5% royalties”

On reinvigorating the industry: “The credit that has to be given to Hedi and Saint Laurent, is that he brought back some coolness to the fashion industry”

On constant evolution: “Modernity is the key, if you want to be modern it means you’re changing all the time”

On the see now, buy now revolution: There are other ways to inject novelty into your stores, but you need to have the time for creativity to shine and a teaser effect”

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