Challenge for Chiquet: Growing Chanel Brand After Kopelman Success

As Arie Kopelman hands over operating control of Chanel Inc. to Maureen Chiquet, the duo discuss the past and future of the famed house.

“It could be things like Starbucks — you now have designer coffee,” she said. “It’s no longer as exclusive as it used to be, and there are implications for Chanel and for everybody. What that forces us to do is to stay one step ahead by continuing to emphasize our creativity and our differentiation.”

Lagerfeld appreciates this development, of course, and Chiquet said she would shop the designer’s offerings at H&M when they arrive in stores next month. (Kopelman said he would buy them “if I like them.”) It is Lagerfeld’s innovativeness in every type of product he designs that Chiquet said “reminds me of why I came into the fashion business in the first place. Every time I came into the studio or go to a show, I am in awe of him.”

When Kopelman accepted his position at Chanel, he recalled thinking that he would live out the remainder of his working days at the company. Chiquet said, “When I decided to do this, this to me was the place I was going to start and finish my career after Gap. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

Yet neither Kopelman nor Chiquet, who, if her prophesy holds true, would in all likelihood be at Chanel when Lagerfeld leaves, would consider the possibility of what will happen.

Kopelman said Lagerfeld had somehow found a way to do it all, but probably because he’s on the creative side of things, not dealing with the daily nuts and bolts of business. Kopelman even has a marketing slant on his own retirement: “I look at it just like that, as an opportunity to take life to a whole new level. This is all about a really exciting upside.”
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