Apple’s Fashionable Move: Hiring Yves St Laurent’s Paul Deneve

| Analysis

Apple has yet another new senior executive in its ranks: Paul Deneve from Yves St Laurent. With some time at Apple during the 1990s and his extensive retail background you'd think he'd be in charge of the company's retail stores. Guess what? He isn't.

Paul Deneve leaves Yves St Laurent for ApplePaul Deneve leaves Yves St Laurent for Apple

Apple's chief retail position has been open ever since John Browett was let go several months ago, but Mr. Deneve will be working on unspecified projects. In a statement to Bloomberg an Apple spokesperson said,

We're thrilled to welcome Paul Deneve to Apple. He'll be working on special projects as a vice president reporting directly to Tim Cook.

Since Mr. Deneve won't be taking over as the senior retail executive, and Apple is saying he will be assigned to special projects, we can only speculate as to what his role will be. Luckily, I have no problem speculating.

If we take into account the fact that he worked for Apple through most of the 1990s as the company's senior marketing and sales manager in Europe, it isn't much of a jump to assume he'll have a similar role now. If so, he may be tasked with finding ways to better market Apple's products to high-end shoppers.

His experience in the high end fashion market could come into play, too, if Apple really is looking into the wearable technology market. Mr. Deneve knows what sells, and he could offer some interesting insight into how to get fashion conscious consumers to break out their credit cards.

Apple has been rumored to be working on a smartwatch that links wirelessly to iPhones and displays information like incoming calls and messages, along with weather and traffic data. CEO Tim Cook also recently said that Apple is very interested in the wearable technology market. Assuming that's a path Apple is actively pursuing, Mr. Deneve is an interesting -- and probably smart -- addition to the wearable tech team.

That still leaves Apple's senior retail executive position open, and there isn't any indication that spot will be filled soon. Maybe Apple CEO Tim Cook thinks the retail division is doing fine without anyone in that slot and instead wants to focus on bringing experts on board to target specific markets.

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Tie-ins with the big fashion houses to release signature lines of iWatch and future wearable computing products.  Counter presence in high end boutiques and departments stores.  A big Apple presence during fashion week in Paris, Milan, NY.  And other such promos to turn Apple wearable products into high fashion items.  A lot of people own more than one watch.

The big payoff:  Samsung, Google, and anyone else cannot follow Apple into this segment.  Their brands don’t have the cachet for that.


Watching Apple’s talent acquisitions is very interesting.  It always seems to go back to Paris.  Remember Bertrand Serlet?  He was an inspiration.

As for other talented designers, in the luxury market, likely Karl Lagerfeld wouldn’t join because he is busy, also Dior was replacing their primary designer.  So I suppose Paul Deneve was the best selection, but my guess is that the designs might take the next apple product to the feminine side.

Still, it’s a good choice.  My guess however, is that a designer from Armani Privé‘s line may have been best.

It’s good to see Apple working on a Steve Jobs replacement.

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