For This Luxury Group, Australian Crocodiles and Blockchain Are The Way Of The Future

As the CEO of LVMH Metiers d’Art, Matteo De Rosa is one of the world’s leading experts in raw materials for the luxury market. T Australia spoke to him about the Australian market and how we should all be thinking about blockchain.

Article by Phoebe Tully

Verifying the size and thickness of the skins. Photography courtesy Louis Vuitton Malletier Piotr Stoklosa.

What is savoir-faire? In literal terms, it means “know how”. More elusively, it’s the French je ne sais quois of a neck scarf tied just so or a wine paired just right. At LVMH, a company that sees itself as “custodians of an unparalleled heritage”, it’s the expert craftsmanship that’s passed from generation to generation. For Matteo De Rosa, Chief Executive Officer of LVMH Metiers d’Art, it’s a shared vision of unparalleled excellence.

Launched in 2015, Métiers d’Art is the luxury group’s hub for sourcing high-grade raw materials – such as leather, exotic skins, precious metals and silk – and for nurturing exclusive craft skills. It was created to “protect and foster the [group’s] fashion labels’ ability to access first-rate raw materials and know-how,” and support LVMH’s top suppliers in the process.

CEO of LVMH Metiers d’Art, Matteo De Rosa. Photography courtesy LVMH Métiers d'Art.
Photography courtesy Louis Vuitton Malletier Piotr Stoklosa.

De Rosa brings to his role a wealth of experience in the luxury industry, including, most recently, as president of Dries Van Noten. Previous roles have included nearly six years at Chinese-Canadian ready-to-wear label Ports 1961, and head of Fashion & Lifestyle and Commercial Director for the Kennedy Luxury Group in Melbourne. Before his executive roles, de Rosa founded leather goods label Sartie.

“We have to be entrepreneurs to understand the field work our farmers, partners, tanneries are doing every day,” said De Rosa when asked about this entrepreneurial past. “In order to protect and develop [LVMH’s] access to the raw materials and superior savoir-faire they require, [we have to provide] long-term investment and support for its best suppliers. There is a specificity in our trades.”

T Australia recently had the opportunity to speak with De Rosa about the triple bottom line, his predictions for the Australian market and how we should all be thinking about blockchain.

Photography courtesy Louis Vuitton Malletier Piotr Stoklosa.

Métiers d’Art has a strategy to enrich the “transmission of savoir-faire” – what does this phrase mean in your own words?

LVMH Métiers d’Art federates and supports the best suppliers of fashion and leather goods, who want to ensure exceptional know-how and materials are part of the world of tomorrow. Its mission is to promote the sustainable development of extraordinary know-how [savoir-faire] and materials, with a permanent concern for innovation and transmission. [We have] a vision of excellence, which believes in the capacity of manufacturers and craftsmen – tanners, printers or metal parts manufacturers – to transform the material to create beauty and arouse emotion.

Where is the potential for technology, including blockchain, in the fashion industry?

For years, luxury could be perceived as a conservative industry that essentially relies on its roots and its history to grow. Yet, even though you have to respect the history and the legacy of the maison and the designers, innovation is key to enrich the history of a maison and make sure you create the most sustainable and desirable products.

On top of that, we also rely on technology to accelerate changes. We launched our own blockchain with Richemont and Prada, Aura Blockchain, to offer a tailor-made solution for luxury maisons. The blockchain offers us a vast potential of utilisation, especially in traceability, authenticity, and warranty. We are currently investigating those applications within our own ecosystem to find innovative solutions that would bring added value to our customers.  

Placing the template perfectly. Photography courtesy Louis Vuitton Malletier Piotr Stoklosa.

The Métiers d’Art division has become a hub for sourcing high-grade raw materials, but also for the dissemination of exclusive craft skills. How are these functions connected or intertwined? 

Métiers d’Art invests in the best in class producers and manufacturers of the world. It has an active approach by pushing them to best practices, delivering excellent products while promoting investments to make our operations as sustainable as we can, to drive innovation and remain relevant in the world of tomorrow.

Métiers d’Art promotes the adoption of new technologies; sponsors new materials and advances research in every field of competence while favouring operational synergies between the companies it has invested in. Contamination, innovation, and synergic exchanges are at the base of the savoir-faire transmission to new generations.

How does the Métiers d’Art integrate with the rest of LVMH? How do you work together on a united purpose?

Métiers d’Art is part of LVMH; it overlooks the strategic investments of raw materials in the wider supply chain for our maisons. It has been created to sustainably secure the precious and unique resources our products depend on and it acts on our maisons’s demand with the ultimate aim to support them and deliver the best products to our clients. We ensure the utmost respect for people and animals through the certification of all our operations, hence working closely with [the sustainability department].

Shaping the handle. Photography courtesy Louis Vuitton Malletier Piotr Stoklosa.

Are there upcoming projects you could tell our readers about?

We are currently investing in state of the art farming facilities in our crocodilian filiere. In both Queensland and the Northern Territory, our production sites will begin their transformation in the coming months.

You have spent some time in the Australian market – what is unique about our fashion industry, and the way we need to respond to sustainable and circular supply chains?

As a raw material producer, Australia has a unique opportunity to create a new alliance between nature and creativity by educating and promoting a new generation of designers to new ways of conceptualising and creating products.

As you know, LVMH is not just a fashion group. When you are a farmer, designer, manufacturer and distributor at the same time, it’s our key priority to make growth and sustainability synonymous. But when you implement good practices – for example, working on the purity of water – it becomes beneficial both to the customer (animal welfare, good quality skin) and to the environment. That’s our philosophy and what we try to do for every project. Sustainability is a three-fold commitment: respect of the environment, welfare of the people and well-balanced economy.