Serge Brunschwig FENDI’s CEO Discusses the Brand’s Recent Success and its Presence in the Middle East 

Lara Mansour   |   01-12-2022

Since Joining FENDI as CEO in 2018 Serge Brunschwig has taken the brand on a constant path of development leading the Italian House through many changes and realignments.


Under his guidance, it has reached many milestones and successes over the past few years. But it hasn’t come without challenges. Dealing first with the death of Karl Lagerfeld in 2019, it was under Brunschwig’s lead that Kim Jones was appointed Artistic Director of Womenswear and Couture collections. He also sought to reinforce the spirit of the FENDI family at the house and introduce Delfina Delettrez Fendi as Creative Director of Jewellery as well as opening up the FENDI factories to the public to share the precious savoir-faire that is at the heart of the brand. And of course, all this while navigating through a global pandemic! In the past year, we have seen FENDI introduce high jewellery to its offering, as well as the impressive celebration of the FENDI Baguette’s 25th anniversary in New York in September. And now, the Middle East is having its FENDI moment as the brand unveils its newly renovated flagship store at The Dubai Mall. This two-story boutique in Fashion Avenue has undergone a huge renovation including a vertical expansion allowing it to double in size. To mark the occasion, the brand hosted a spectacular event in Dubai in front of the iconic Burj Khalifa. During the celebrations, we talked to Serge Brunschwig to find out more about the future of the brand and its place in the Middle East. 



2022 has been an instrumental and fruitful year at FENDI, what have been the focuses and Add Newmajor milestones for the house? Many reasons to celebrate!

Well, we are still here, and we are still full of projects and a vision for what we want to do moving forward! We have a great team and the FENDI family is at the heart of the brand – Silvia, Delphina, and of course, Kim Jones – working together to craft the future of the brand. So I think that is the most important thing and supporting that, we have an amazing supply chain, in the sense that all of the people surrounding the Creative Directors can translate their vision into real FENDI products. Products which represent our vision and our art. This is all about the people. We have incredibly talented teams in design, crafting, and research, and this allows us to put together the FENDI objects, which are again a master of materials and something so special that only FENDI craftsmen can do. How do we make sure these people continue to exist? They are trained for the future, and we strive to ensure that there is a new generation joining who can fulfil these tasks, and this is the big challenge: making sure that this creative vision is well translated and expressed and if we want to grow, we can grow. 


This is what we have been focusing on in 2022. We had quite a milestone opening two new factories in Italy. We transformed completely the shoe and leather goods factories. It was one of our best-kept secrets and now it has a new home, a new expression, a new size, and a new ambition. To do something like this, not only did need an amazing piece of architecture and landscape, but we prepared something which could accompany the growth of the brand, with the space and the ambience of the craftsmanship. It is attractive in itself to draw the new generation to work on our products which is also key. We need the new generation not only with our customers but also our craftsmen, if we don’t have that there will be no FENDI. 




The doors of the FENDI factories in Italy were opened lately for visitors – tell us about the importance of keeping your craftsmanship in Italy and why you wanted to share this with the world. 

It is key to do this, as in my opinion, we must be transparent. Our customers want to know what they’re buying, who is creating it, how they are creating it, as well as whether it is being done sustainably, what kinds of materials we are using, and so on. So, we wanted to open our doors to share these elements. And secondly, we have to be open to the people that work for us and their families. I want the parents of our craftsmen to be happy that their child is in good hands. we want everyone to say “wow” when they visit, and we want them to be proud. We are against recent trends to shy away from traditional crafts, so we want to promote this and support the artisans of tomorrow. We must excite people to come back home to these jobs and that’s why we have to open our factory. 





The 25th anniversary of the Baguette was also a key moment, especially with the collaboration with Tiffany, in your opinion, what are the prerequisites to keep an icon surviving?

Firstly, it must be good! And it must capture the audience, it has to bring something in the first place. Secondly, you have to take care of it by continuing to make it fresh. One aspect of FENDI which helps a lot on that is the master of materials and the ability to express those icons each season in a totally different way. We also have the ability to invent new materials and crafts, which allows us to reinvent our icons in a naturally creative way. Then I would say from time to time, why not also make sure the function of that icon is still right for the needs of today? All icons don’t stay the same, they are all evolving. Even the most famous in the market, if you look at their first version and the way it is today, it will be very different. Sometimes we may not notice that it is evolving, but it is evolving. We did this for Peekaboo when we created the Peekaboo ISeeU – this was still a Peekaboo but it was constructed in a different way. And the Baguette also has a different construction with different volumes and a new way of wearing it. With the Baguette, you can still buy the original style but there is also the style of 2022 which has been a great success because it was adapting the Baguette to the needs of today. 



As one of the few Fashion houses that still has the family at the heart of the brand, how do you retain and guard the DNA, family, and traditions, but balance it with keeping up with what’s happening in the industry and sustaining relevancy?


I think it is always about the product and this is absolutely the job of our designers. As a CEO I can understand what they are doing and try to explain it, but they would nevertheless explain it better than I can. It’s about how you create something for today, which uses the techniques and the same methods of the brand in a relevant way. How do you always present a new version of the same thing? The repetition is there, but there is also the presentation and adaptation of our products for the customer of tomorrow. That’s what all the successful brands are doing: they are bringing this heritage and techniques from the past and expressing it which today looks fresh. 



We’ve recently seen a collaboration also with Karim Benzema as the ambassador for Fendi Faster sneakers, today as a fashion house, what are the prerequisites that you look for when doing endorsements and choosing ambassadors? 

That’s a difficult question! When we choose an ambassador, we have to ask the question ‘is that ambassador going to represent the brand as we see it?’ With Benzema, he is elegant, he is well-known, he is talented and frankly, he looks good! Silvia Venturini Fendi looked at Benzema and the clothes he wears, and she sees that something will work. And then we created a special friendship with him and there is a story of trust. It’s quite moving when you talk about someone who is a great footballer and working with him on this project was something that we have both benefited from. That is an example of a very successful partnership. 



What can you tell us about what is in the pipeline for the rest of the year and any pre-hints on what to expect next year?

You can expect more good things. It’s our responsibility as always to continue to innovate, to have new ideas, and new initiatives and this is what makes us surprising for our customers and for ourselves and I think we have to continue this way. 



Tell us about FENDI in the Middle East – how does the region serve the brand and what can we still expect?

Of course, we are here today to celebrate this fantastic store in Dubai. We have also recently expanded our flagship store in Saudi Arabia, we tripled the size, and we introduced ready-to-wear and menswear, so I think to be able to offer that in a country such as Saudi Arabia is great, and we are very happy that we can do that. And hopefully, we will soon work on our other stores in the Kingdom with the same concept. Certainly, we are at a moment where the Saudi society is evolving. So as a brand participating in this evolution and its development is something that I think a brand like FENDI, which is about the strong woman, is important to be part of. 




What is the biggest challenge you face today as CEO of FENDI? 

In luxury brands I think we all face the same challenge of asking ‘how do I continue to do what I’m doing well, but how do I make it relevant for today and tomorrow?’ This is what is fascinating about this job. Time goes so fast in this industry and in my previous role at Dior, there was reinvention all the time. I have been with Fendi for almost five years, and it has been five years of permanent reinvention, so time goes incredibly fast. And I think this is the challenge – to always be up and ready to face reality and to adapt what we are to the new times. I am constantly adapting the organisation and I have to make sure the people around me are ready to face tomorrow. This is a constant challenge. There are great times and more difficult times, but in fact, at the times when you’re cruising and everything looks easy, that’s when things can get difficult. 




How would you assess the luxury industry today? 

I think the luxury industry has had a nice ride! It has been incredibly successful for the last two years. We had a good time, but it will be interesting to see what’s next.