Balenciaga Designer Wang in Talks as WWD Says He May Leave Label

Alexander Wang, creative director of Balenciaga, is in talks on his future at the clothing label, parent company Kering SA said after Women’s Wear Daily reported he may leave the brand after less than three years in the role.

The fashion designer, who joined Balenciaga in December 2012, may not renew his contract because he wants to focus on his own label, the trade newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information. A spokeswoman for Paris-based Kering confirmed that the company is in contract talks with the American, declining to comment further. Calls to Balenciaga’s press office seeking Wang’s comment went unanswered.

Kering hired Wang in late 2012 to replace Nicolas Ghesquiere, who left to run artistic direction at competitor Louis Vuitton. At the time, Wang’s appointment was seen as a move to broaden Balenciaga’s appeal as growth slowed at Gucci, Kering’s largest label. A management shift at Balenciaga would come on top of Kering’s overhaul this year of Gucci’s leadership.

Though sales rose at a double-digit rate in the past quarter, “he’s not made a huge mark on Balenciaga so far” and it wouldn’t be “a tragedy if he left,” Luca Solca, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas, said by e-mail.

Balenciaga, which makes 2,200-euro ($2,400) biker jackets and 545-euro sandals, generated sales of 300 million euros in 2014, or less than 3 percent of Kering’s total revenue, analysts at Citigroup Inc. estimate. Kering doesn’t break out Balenciaga’s results, grouping it with other luxury brands including Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney.

The label was founded by Cristobal Balenciaga in 1919, established in Paris in 1936 and acquired by Kering in 2001.

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