90-year-old designer Giorgio Armani has kept his legacy alive—and independent. Now, he's open to adapting: 'I don’t feel I can rule anything out'

For decades, Giorgio Armani has been keen to keep a tight grip on his eponymous fashion company. 

But now, the nearly 90-year-old Italian mogul is keeping his options open about the future of the brand he cofounded in 1975. 

The high-end fashion industry has been shaped by many forces over the years, including the rise of massive conglomerates that bought fellow Italian brands like Gucci and Versace. Through it all, Armani has stayed independent, establishing itself as one of the most influential brands in Italian and global fashion

As the founder considers his succession, he says he’s open to other ideas that’ll keep the brand’s legacy alive—with or without other luxury behemoths.

“Independence from large groups could still be a driving value for the Armani Group in the future, but I don’t feel I can rule anything out,” Armani told Bloomberg in a written interview published Friday.

In his nearly 50-year reign, Armani has amassed $6.6 billion in wealth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He’s Italy’s second-richest person, following the heir of the Nutella empire. 

In 2022, the Italian group, which includes Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani and Armani Exchange, made roughly $2.6 billion in revenue. 

The CEO has long dismissed retirement talks and stayed mum on a succession plan, even though there’s a great deal of interest surrounding it. 

While there are no imminent plans for Armani to relinquish control of his fashion empire, he revealed that he’s considering every option, including being acquired. But Armani is worried about that approach—although it can help grow the brand, it might lead to a shift in its values and style.     

“I don’t currently envisage a takeover by a large luxury conglomerate,” he told Bloomberg. “Listing is something we have not yet discussed, but it is an option that may be considered, hopefully in the distant future.”  

Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani pictured in Jan. 2024.

Vittorio Zunino Celotto—Getty Images

What might the succession look like?

Armani has no kids—but his sister, two nieces and nephew work closely with the brand and hold key roles at the company. His long-time collaborator Pantaleo Dell’Orco and a charitable foundation will likely get some share of the control from Armani, Reuters reported in November. There are also reportedly more detailed plans about how style directors at the company will be appointed and its financial future after Armani’s demise.   

Where there are iconic brands like Armani, any updates about their future are eagerly followed. 

The saga of long-serving luxury company leaders isn’t limited to Armani. Bernard Arnault, the billionaire behind LVMH, extended the retirement age for CEOs at his company to 80 in 2022, giving him five more years in his role. In the meantime, his children have been elevated to key roles at the sprawling French company. On Thursday, two of Arnault’s sons joined LVMH’s board in addition to his two other children, consolidating the family’s control of the empire.

Given the historic legacy of such brands, Armani said he, too, prefers “a pool of trusted people” that he chooses to remain in control of the company. While they may not be him in the future, they will understand what the Armani brand stands for and replicate his success. 

“I started out alone with a small company and have transformed it, piece by piece, into a group of international relevance,” he said.  “What has always characterized the success of my work is an ability to adapt to changing times.”

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