New Chanel chief could signal end of ‘colonialist approach’ to fashion
by Priya Elan
The announcement of Chanel’s new chief executive this week marks a departure for the French luxury brand, one that is being praised as a landmark for diversity within the industry.
Leena Nair makes moves from being the global head of human resources at the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever, where she had worked for 30 years, to taking the reins at the 112-year-old fashion house founded by Coco Chanel.
Andrew Groves, a professor of fashion design at the University of Westminster, said: “Given Leena Nair’s track record, I’m hopeful that Chanel is entering a period of profound change. If Chanel, a privately owned company in a conglomerate world, is starting to alter its worldview, then there is a chance that we are witnessing a fundamental shift within the fashion industry.”
The brand was recently faced a backlash online for the contents of their Christmas advent calendar, which were mocked by some influencers.
“After 37 years of Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel had become a fossilised relic, still adhering to a Eurocentric, colonialist approach to fashion,” Groves said. “His death appears to have liberated the company, and this appointment indicates that they are looking beyond fashion, beyond Paris, and beyond being gatekeepers to become a more inclusive company.”