After Hedi Slimane debuted his first Celine collection at Paris Fashion Week last month, Diet Prada and others mocked the designer for a lack of innovation and differentiation from Saint Laurent.

But it didn’t stop on the runway. Gartner L2 researchers have noted that the brands’ similarities also manifest themselves at the digital level.

After Celine’s site launch on October 22, the platform looked remarkably similar to that of Saint Laurent. It boasted nearly identical sans-serif fonts, minimalistic merchandising not shown on models, and black-and-white brand heritage videos. Did Slimane employ the same strategies with the same creative feel as he did with Saint Laurent six years ago?

Saint Laurent

That would be an understandable strategy. When Slimane joined Kering-owned Saint Laurent as Creative Director in 2012 after leaving Dior Homme, the fashion world was ecstatic. His debut collection sold out instantly and robust growth followed for the brand, with sales consistently climbing at a double-digit percentage growth clip during his tenure. As a result, Saint Laurent rose to 12th place in Gartner L2’s Digital Index: Fashion.

Saint Laurent

In March 2016, he left and a year later joined Celine, owned by Kering’s rival LVMH. However, he did not receive the same welcome. As the brand had been seen as a shining beacon for women in fashion, loyalists to the previous creative director (Phoebe Philo) were outspokenly upset with a man stepping into the role. Then Slimane decided to rock the boat further, dropping the accent over the e in Celine, which did not sit well with the already aggravated fans of the brand.

However, moving to online sales in the US market could mark an important turning point for Celine, which sits 54th in Gartner L2’s ranking. Can Slimane bring the same catapult of success for LVMH as he once brought to Kering, or will the lack of innovation sink Celine entirely?

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