It was only a matter of time before Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole would make a re-appearance as a world-leading fashion duo. They drove the Gucci Group to new heights and now have Chanel and Hermès on their acquisition wishlist.
The duo confirmed an exclusive report in WWD Tuesday that they were returning with a new company that will be totally self-financed. As reported, one of the first deals signed under the new Tom Ford brand is an agreement with the Estee Lauder Cos. to launch a Tom Ford for Estee Lauder collection and eventually a stand-alone Tom Ford beauty brand. While none of the parties involved would discuss terms of the Lauder deal, industry sources speculated that Ford could be paid a minimum of $10 million to $20 million over the next five years.
The designer also on Tuesday signed an agreement with Marcolin for a Tom Ford eyewear line.
Ford, who will be president and chief executive officer of the new company, hinted Tuesday that future product categories could include home goods and a men’s apparel line. He’s also continuing with his plans to enter the film business and said he has “a few” scripts in development.
De Sole, who will be chairman of the new venture, said the deals are the first steps in the founding of a new luxury conglomerate.
“We’re back, and these are the first steps in a bigger plan,” said De Sole. “We’ll be doing very specialized products [and are] thinking through more licenses and the possibility of directly owned stand-alone stores. The brand is going to be very high-end; and all of the products will be positioned at the level of Chanel and Hermès. We want to create the first, true luxury brand of this century. And, as always, we’re doing our own thing, developing our own business model. The process started last summer, and we’ve been looking at this brand from every angle and trying to see what fits and what doesn’t. We’re going to make this very big, but we’re going to build it slowly and at a deliberate pace.
“There is no outside capital at all in this [Tom Ford] venture, and we’re totally in control,” added De Sole. “We really wanted to do something for ourselves.”
Ford, meanwhile, admitted that a year away from fashion, following the duo’s dramatic departure from Gucci Group, has given him a new perspective on the industry.
When asked what he thinks is needed to cure the chaotic fragrance market, Ford replied: “Every forum right now needs quality. There’s so much flash right now, so many people endorsing things. Things are reaching sort of a hollow peak. Quality of product is number one. If I were designing ready-to-wear right now, that’s what it would be about – real, true value. And I don’t mean value for the price. I mean value in terms of quality. That’s what’s most important, and it’s what’s missing in every area.”