Yoon joins Dior Homme: Proving Streetwear has overtaken Luxury

Yoon Ahn, a streetwear maven is Dior Homme’s newest Designer. Another sign that streetwear is overtaking luxury and definite LVMH plans to reclaim the hypebeast genre.

Founded by designer Yoon Ahn and her husband, AMBUSH began as hip hop inspired streetwear jewellery label known for its youthful vibrancy and rawness; Now, Yoon has been tapped by LVMH Group to head Dior Homme jewellery as the brand’s latest hautebeast designer, an announcement which follows hot on the heels of LVMH group sister brand’s appointment of Virgil Abloh as new Artistic Director for Louis Vuitton menswear.

Yoon joins Dior Homme: Proving Streetwear has overtaken Luxury

Like Abloh, the founder and designer haute streetwear label AMBUSH, beginning only with streetwear accessories and jewellery before later becoming a unisex ready-to-wear brand, yet another case-in-point for LVMH group’s embrace for hypebeast, a genre which has been a major source of disruption for the luxury industry.

Ambush Designer Yoon Ahn Is Dior Homme’s New Jewelry Designer, tapped upon by Kim Jones after Kris Van Assche took a Creative role at Berluti. Ahn, a street style icon, naturally togged in mixed up AMBUSH ensembles, in her own right, will utilise her core skills as Dior Homme’s new jewellery designer. It’s no surprise that Kim Jones sought Yoon Ahn for the role, the two had collaborated back in 2012 when Jones was lead Creative at Louis Vuitton, working with AMBUSH to create “playbutton” essentially a wearable MP3 accessory.

Presently, up to 85% of the luxury market’s new growth is driven by a generation of Ys, Zs and millennials with Bain consulting predicting that by 2025, this generation of youthful shoppers will account for 45% of global luxury spend. This may not represent the majority  but it is an influential segment given how rapidly the millennial generation is influencing consumer purchase decision making in generations beyond their own. Not only are brands specifically catering marketing communications and campaigns for them but they are also shaping consumer perceptions on what brands are cool and en vogue. 


Dapper Dan front row at Gucci RTW Spring 2018 show

Dapper Dan front row at Gucci RTW Spring 2018 show. Streetwear is now mainstream and the hautebeast phenomena is best exemplified by the commercial alliance between former frenemies – Gucci and Dapper Dan.

As it stands, millennials consider traditional luxury brands to be “establishment” and stuffy and it has been a trans-generational perception shift which has seen brands like Louis Vuitton – Supreme make big wins and competitor brand’s like Kering Group’s Balenciaga and Gucci take market leader positions in the nascent (if not already peak) hautebeast genre of luxury designer goods.

Business of Luxury: The mainstreaming of Hype and LVMH’s response to market disruption

Streetwear is now mainstream and the hautebeast phenomena is best exemplified by the commercial alliance between former frenemies – Gucci and Dapper Dan. Once litigants in a lawsuit over Dapper Dan’s flagrant co-option of Gucci motifs into modified windbreakers and trackpants, 2017 was the year that Gucci made tacit endorsement of Dapper Dan’s preternatural zeitgeist cool and as of early 2018, Alessandro Michele made the endorsement real with the re-opening of Dapper Dan’s Harlem atelier, the tailoring shop which initially closed due to legal action, 25 years later.

Meanwhile Kering Group sister brand Balenciaga has been paving the way into the hearts of hypebaes with their early break from traditional luxury design – first with products of cultural snark – the appropriation of the East Asian “Wholesale Market Shopping bag” and then later with a high fashion interpretation of the ubiquitous IKEA shopping bag. Reflecting a streetwear-hautebeast approach, it is little wonder that Balenciaga’s top-selling products are its Triple S and Speed sneakers.

Kim Jones has lots of street cred and with his bet of putting Louis Vuitton and Supreme together paying off big time, it is easy to see why arch-rival LVMH is looking to cued-in, street credible designers like Abloh and now, Yoon Ahn to deliver street-smart drops and fashionably relevant productions.

That said, fashion appeal isn’t the only thing encouraging streetwear’s takeover of luxury. The marketing cycle is vastly different today than it was 10 years ago. Attention is fleeting with the wide array of social media platforms and rather than conform to the traditional spring-summer, autmn-winter fashion cycles, streetwear has dominated attention with the highly viral “blink and you’ll miss me” concept of fashion “drops” – targeted releases of new products that spawn all year around, delivering timed intervals of “hype”, like a drug, disseminated by What’s App screenshots, instagram and facebook. The speed of digital media is not only changing how we shop but how the more clued-in brands are dominating the news and attention cycle with well-timed releases and hype-worthy product collaborations.

That said, while hypebeast is in full-swing as LVMH, the world’s largest luxury conglomerate populates ranks of designers and creative heads with street-savvy streetwear designers, there’s the inevitable over-correction where hautebeast eventually becomes yet another fashion establishment trend and millennials depart in droves for the next “authentic expression” of self.

As it stands, Abloh as Louis Vuitton men’s Artistic Director, Jones as Dior Homme creative head and now Yoon Ahn as Dior Homme jewellery designer hints to a large overhaul of LVMH Group’s strategy towards menswear, it remains to be seen if the women’s side will be equally impacted. Considering the success of rival Gucci’s embroidered bee sneakers (a revival motif), it will not be surprising if LVMH already has plans in motion for women’s wear in its stable of brands.

Yoon Ahn’s jewellery for Dior Homme will accompany Jones’s debut collection at the Spring 2019 menswear shows in Paris in June.


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