Giorgio Armani intends to create a foundation, a move aimed at laying the groundwork for the future of his fashion house, he said in a statement.
In a communiqué issued Friday, the 82-year-old designer said that a foundation would safeguard the group he founded 40 years ago and ensure that the house remains “consistent with some principles that are particularly important to me.”
The future of one of the icons of Italian fashion has long been a question, given the tight control that Mr. Armani, who is the house’s sole shareholder, maintains over his brand. He is still deeply involved in the day-to-day management of the group and hasn’t designated an heir. While he has long mulled the establishment of a foundation as a solution for when he steps down or passes away, he had not formally announced such a move until Friday.
Succession issues have long bedeviled Italian family-owned companies, particularly in the fashion sector. The death of Gianni Versace in 1997 set that house on a path to near-destruction after his sister Donatella took the creative reins. The company finally emerged from a brush with bankruptcy about a decade later but has remained a relative minnow among the biggest fashion brands. The Gucci brand also suffered a long decline because of squabbles within the founding family before being revived in the 1990s by outside investors.
Mr. Armani has long avoided the merger and acquisition fever that first swept the fashion sector in the 1990s and has produced colossal multibrands such as LVMH and Kering. The owners of both fashion conglomerates have courted Mr. Armani over the years, trying to convince him to sell and setting forth rich offers. But he has consistently repudiated them, arguing that mega-groups tend to erode the values of the labels they buy.
In his statement, Mr. Armani said the company must remain committed to “innovation and excellence”, and enjoy “appropriate investments, prudent and balanced financial management, limited recourse to debt and a careful approach to acquisitions.”
According to Forbes, Mr. Armani is worth more than $6 billion, making him one of the richest men in Italy.
Corrections & Amplifications
An earlier headline on this article incorrectly spelled Mr. Armani’s first name as Georgio. (August 2, 2016)