July 29, 2015 / 4:23 PM / 2 years ago

Alexander Wang set to leave Kering's Balenciaga: source

U.S. singer Lady Gaga (R) is seen with American fashion designer Alexander Wang after arriving for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala 2015 celebrating the opening of "China: Through the Looking Glass," in Manhattan, New York May 4, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

PARIS (Reuters) - American fashion designer Alexander Wang is expected to leave the creative leadership of Kering’s Balenciaga to focus on developing his eponymous brand, a source close to the matter said on Wednesday.

The New-York based Alexander Wang brand, estimated to generate sales of around $100 million, just raised funds to finance its expansion and investors asked for Wang’s increased commitment, the source said.

“It would be natural for him to want to focus on his own brand now,” the source said.

Kering, which published forecast-beating half-year results this week helped by Gucci’s rebound, said it was currently in contract negotiations with Wang but did not give details.

Women’s Wear Daily earlier said Wang would show his last Balenciaga collection at Paris Fashion Week this fall and leave afterwards.

Balenciaga generates over three times more revenues than Alexander Wang, or about 350 million euros ($386 million), and is one of the smaller fashion brands owned by Kering, sitting alongside Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney.

Wang’s expected departure raises questions about Balenciaga’s future as it was just starting to gain credibility after two years under Wang’s creative direction.

”There could be a short term negative impact on sales, as in any case of change of creative direction. Nevertheless, it is important to see who will be the new creative director appointed,” Bernstein luxury goods analyst Mario Ortelli said.

Wang replaced Nicolas Ghesquiere who was Balenciaga’s creative head for 15 years and was regarded as having resuscitated the fashion brand and turned it into a fashion authority.

Ghesquiere became Louis Vuitton’s new creative designer after Marc Jacobs left two years ago and his new designs helped drive sales 10 percent higher during the second quarter, its best performance in around three years.

Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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