Hedi Slimane, the new creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, or rather Saint Laurent Paris, is making his mark on this 50-year old luxury brand. It was recently announced that the fashion house would now be called Saint Laurent Paris, dropping its long held ‘Yves’.

When I first heard the news, much like the rest of the fashion community, I thought, ‘why?'.  It seemed as though the fashion empire was doing just fine with its current moniker but after some quick research, I realized that the new name is actually a throwback to the brand’s early days. The inaugural Yves Saint Laurent ready-to-wear line was named Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, which was unveiled in 1966. Impressively, in an industry where everyone has an opinion, Slimane has garnered the blessing of Pierre Bergé, YSL’s co-founder and partner of the beloved designer, even Tom Ford can’t claim that.

The newly appointed creative director has a vision to usher Saint Laurent Paris into a new day and age and pay homage to its brand promise of “youth, freedom, and modernity”.  According to WWD, “Slimane would return to the ‘original branding,’ thus ‘restoring the house to its truth, purity, and essence — and taking it into a new era’ while ‘respecting the original principles and ideals.’”

Being able to adapt to an ever-changing marketplace, identifying with your core consumer, while remaining authentic to your brand is the recipe for staying relevant, differentiated, and being able to endure as a brand. Obviously Slimane is onto something.

My only fear is that this message isn’t being communicated effectively as I read an article in Fashionsita that was on the fence about the changes being made to YSL’s brand identity. When dealing with a brand of YSL's stature effective communication is key.

Luckily, and I believe to be the correct strategic move, Slimane has opted to kept the ‘Yves’ in YSL symbol. This is smart move branding-wise as the symbol is synonymous with brand and is easily recognizable. Additionally, accessories are the bread-and-butter of the fashion industry, keeping the YSL symbol in tact will retain the design aesthetic of their accessories. Slimane is proving to be one to watch.

Photo credit: Wesley Vieira Fonseca

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