Dior CEO Pietro Beccari on pop-ups; collabs and brand desirability
Few management jobs anywhere are more high profile that being CEO of Christian Dior. The brand is a sacred institution in France, and quite probably the most famous French name of all time.
The house’s well-being is followed with attention by Parisians of all walks of life; and its creations are the source of endless fascination to literally hundreds of millions of fashion fans worldwide.
So, we caught up with Pietro Beccari, a hard-charging yet agreeably relaxed Italian who is busy on multiple fronts for the house. From building a brand new world headquarters on the Champs-Elysees, to opening dozens of pop-ups from Mykonos to Miami; to taking Dior on the road with runway shows seemingly every month. Last month in Athens for cruise and this week in Paris for couture inside the gardens of the Rodin Museum, which is where we sat down with Pietro.
FashionNetwork.com: Why is it important for a brand like Dior to do couture?
Pietro Beccari: Couture is where everything started right? If you think about Avenue Montaigne which we are restoring and the salon of haute couture. Couture is where everything started. It is where the results of savoir faire come together. Couture is fundamental for our image to transmit this savoir-faire and tradition to the customer. Our biggest challenge today is to find a balance between tradition and modernity. That's the biggest challenge for a CEO and a creative director. Everyday there are millions of decisions whether to go right or left and to keep the right balance. Couture is the right support for the tradition.
FNW: How do you plan to organize things at the new Champs-Elysees building?
PB: Right now, we are scattered around so many buildings in Paris. As the company is growing we are adding more and more people. So, it is important to bring everyone together. Therefore, the Champs-Elysees, which should open end 2023, will unite everyone within the company culture.
FNW: Why did you go so pop-up crazy this summer? Everyone noticed that you really pushed a button on that?
PB: If you look at my personal history, I always believe in the power of showing clients while they're on vacation another side of the brand they do not expect. It follows them in a way that is different from what they see in their beautiful stores at home. We often talk about tradition and modernity today. Modernity is also being able to offer something that surprises people and is fresh. Like when you go to Bordeaux and you find a beautiful new store.
FNW: Or Mykonos?
PB: Yes, we have two stores in Mykonos.
FNW: I saw that! Big commitment, no?
PB: They're doing very well. Though we had them last year as well.
FNW: What sort of year is Dior having?
PB: You have to wait two days for the answer, when we announce the results! Loud laughter. But look at me in the face. Chuckles
FNW: We all know LVMH has been very cautious with the web and internet sales. What percentage are your sales roughly?
PB: I cannot tell you this but let's say not as many as competitors because we started only four years ago with digital. Therefore, we don't have 10 years behind us like Gucci and Hermes. It's important, but it's absolutely not at the level of the competition.
FNW: As a general rule for a luxury brand - where do you see Dior in five years’ time? What percentage of sales will be in digital?
PB: I think many people have spoken about the pandemic and said things such as, ‘nothing will be as it was before.’ I don't like to speak about the industry, I'm too modest. I can tell you Dior is different from other brands. The percentage doesn't mean anything because it could be having the right price point for e-commerce and go up to 25%. Or you can decide to have a selective strategy and go for 5-6%. Dior will be closer to the second. I believe strongly in bricks and mortar. The brand is investing money in Avenue Montaigne and flagships around the world. We believe very much in human contact. We have clients who love to prepare their purchases back home but then come to the store. The clients like to have this fluid interaction. They go to the store and if they cannot find an appointment they will telephone the sales associates and get an order one or two days later.
FNW: What percentage of advertising are you spending roughly?
PB: I'm not the one doing the forecast or magazine spending. But we are still investigating advertising budgets in magazines.
FNW: Do you plan to continue travelling with collections to travel? Do you think that's important?
Pietro Beccari: Well, we just presented in Athens. We believe in performing under pressure! We believe in last-minute adrenaline. I think showing in Athens and presenting a physical show is the best example that we walk the walk, nstead of just talk the talk.
FNW: In terms of product categories, where do you see growth coming from? What new ones have emerged?
PB: I think what you get is that Dior is a very balanced type of company. Again, I will not speak of others for obvious reasons. The next capsule we are doing is going to be for the mountains, Dior Alps. It will be shown in September in places such as Saint Moritz, Aspen...
FNW: Will there ever be a Dior Hotel? We would be curious.
PB: Ask me next year? Loud laughs. I don't think we will do a hotel but something else that's special.
FNW: When you came into Dior, what was the brief that Bernard Arnault (CEO of LVMH, which owns Dior) gave to you when he gave you this position?
PB: To try and increase the visibility of the brand. To make it as desirable as possible because the desirability of today is the turnover of tomorrow. We often have discussions of desirability. Mr. Arnault is not about the short term, he is about the long term. He always demonstrates that. He always thinks about what to do for the next generation, not just rushing turnover.
FNW: Not to talk about industry things but we live in an era of collaboration. Few people have done it more actively than Kim Jones. Why are you so infatuated with that?
PB: First of all, I am in favor of giving designers the freedom to do what they please. Again it’s about the desirability of Dior. So it's his choice, it's not me pushing it. I really love what Kim does. I thought it was genius to collaborate with a music artist like Travis Scott. It was unique and special. Finally, everyone gets inspired by someone. His art as a musician is his inspiration which lets him collaborate directly. This is a fantastic encounter of great minds and spirits. Everything he does enriches Dior and enriches him as well as a person.
FN: Finally, if you were not CEO of Dior, what else would you have liked to do in your life?
PB: Ah, this is very interesting. I don't know, I like architecture. I like interior design so maybe I would have tried to go this way.
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