Marine Serre’s radical reset: All-female leadership to push deadstock as luxury

Showing just twice a year, Serre has shifted to the January / June fashion calendar to coincide with its anniversary and also as a nod to its growing menswear business, which launched three seasons ago. She also bulked up her leadership team to guide the company forward: Serre hired 29 people in new positions since 2020, with six additions to the core team (the company’s answer to a C-suite), including a new chief operating officer and digital and marketing director. The organization was also transitioned into a matrix structure, meaning employees do not report up to a single manager but report into various leaders across the business to promote collaboration and ideas sharing, Serre says.

Now at the forefront of a growing upcycling movement that also includes emerging designers like Connor Ives and Bethany Williams, Serre operates a new type of business while adhering to some of the luxury brand traditions, to transform the industry from within, says Serge Carreira, head of emerging brands initiatives at Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode. Can she stick to it as the business grows?

“Marine has questioned how things are done in luxury while embracing some of the rules of the industry, particularly fashion shows that have been a really strong and bold way for her to share a message,” he says. “She demonstrates how a business can be done nowadays, in the framework of the industry, but being able to express herself on something she feels strongly about, without compromising.”

Grappling with big growth

Before the pandemic, Serre met critical acclaim and high volumes of orders for her Autumn 2020 collection “Marée Noire”. It was a double-edged sword. “The brand was growing and growing because it was so well received, but it was really alarming. I was kind of angry, ”Serre says. “I wanted things to change.”

Consumers weren’t aware that Serre’s bestselling items like the moon top and printed jeans were recycled. Then the pandemic hit, and suddenly the designer began connecting with and learning more about her brand community online.

As strange as it is, we had more and more people liking our videos, sending messages to us saying, ‘it’s so nice what you are doing with upcycling!’ or ‘I love this video that you made about fabrication’, ”Serre says. “I never communicated on sustainability before because it just wasn’t the point. But after Covid, it’s becoming something I need to talk about as someone living in this world. I really felt a shift in our community that was really growing and being really supportive. ”

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