French fashion brand Leonard Paris sold to Japanese group Sankyo Seiko

On Monday 25 July, Leonard Paris was sold to its long-standing partner, the Japanese group Sankyo Seiko. The entity, which has specialised in fashion and textiles for more than a century and is still little known in Europe, demonstrates with this acquisition its desire to expand internationally and a strategy of moving upmarket under the leadership of its president Kenzo Kawasaki.

Louana Pochon

By Louana Pochon26 juillet 2022

Lenoard Paris was founded in 1958 by Jacques Léonard and Daniel Tribouillard (Leonard Paris)

On 25 July 2022, the Japanese group Sankyo Seiko, founded in 1920 by Takizo Miki, bought one of the last independent French watchmaking companies, Leonard Paris. The group, which has specialised in textiles, real estate and the licensing business since the 1930s, had already acquired the British high-end fashion brand DAKS in 1991. This first step in opening up its European operations underlined Sankyo Seiko's strategy of "understanding and capturing changing lifestyles and fashion tastes and incorporating them into product planning", according to its executive director Akira Inoue.

The decision to acquire Leonard Paris, a brand renowned for its jerseys and silk prints, reinforces the group's policy of capitalising on French know-how, a symbol of refinement and fashion in the Japanese collective imagination. The brand, founded in 1958 by Jacques Léonard and Daniel Tribouillard, quickly realised this and began an important collaboration with the Japanese group. This association, which lasted for more than fifty years, enabled Leonard Paris to establish a strong presence in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. The brand, which has always been symbolised by the orchid, a flower with "no geometric limits" according to Daniel Tribouillard, quickly conquered the whole world and more particularly Asia. Its entry into the prestigious comité Colbert[1] in 1970 definitively placed the house in the rank of ambassador of French fashion.

Daniel Tribouillard, "the lover of Japan" as the house calls him, succeeded where others have often failed: to establish himself successfully in the land of the rising sun. In the 1980s, the Japanese government entrusted him with the mission of bringing the kimono up to date. The collection was a success. A commercial success that guided the brand's strategic choices, to the point where 60% of its business is now done in Japan and it has a network of 70 shops, compared to 6 shops in Europe. With the acquisition of Leonard Paris, Sankyo Seiko will certainly seek to further develop its presence in Asia.

The label will retain its place in the Paris fashion week calendar.

[1]The Comité Colbert promotes the international influence of the French art of living. Created in 1954 on the initiative of Jean-Jacques Guerlain, the Committee brings together 75 French luxury houses and 13 cultural institutions.

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