AZ Factory transforms into AZ Academy to support the next generation of fashion talent
©Photo: AZ Factory

AZ Factory transforms into AZ Academy to support the next generation of fashion talent

AZ Factory transforms into AZ Academy, a groundbreaking program in partnership with Richemont and Accademia Costume & Moda.
May 31, 2024

AZ Factory is to close its fashion brand is evolving, transforming from a commercial entity into the groundbreaking AZ Academy. This transformative program, born from a partnership between Richemont’s Creative Academy and Italy’s renowned Accademia Costume & Moda, aims to equip emerging designers with the skills and knowledge needed to turn their creative ideas into thriving, investor-attractive businesses.

Launched just four years ago as a democratic couture house, AZ Factory embodied Alber Elbaz’s dream of “smart fashion that cares“. After his untimely death in April 2021, Richemont decided to continue his legacy by reimagining the project around a collective creation model. The brand collaborated with a number of young designers, inviting them to create capsule collections that showcased their unique talents.

Now, AZ Academy is taking this concept one step further. The program is designed for emerging creative talent, recent fashion school graduates, and professional designers at a turning point in their careers. Candidates specializing in fashion, leather goods or accessories are invited to apply beginning in May 2024. A jury of industry professionals will select 10 to 20 participants in September, who will receive a scholarship sponsored by Richemont to attend a highly specialized 12-month master’s program in Milan starting in January 2025. Selected designers will pay a symbolic 2,500 euros to participate, but the vast majority of the program’s costs will be covered by Richemont.

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The AZ Academy curriculum covers a wide range of topics including creativity, innovation, sustainability, manufacturing, finance, legal, marketing and inclusivity. Participants gain immersive experiences with suppliers and benefit from mentorship opportunities. The ultimate goal is to prepare designers to present their collections and business plans to potential investors.

As Mauro Grimaldi, strategic advisor to Philippe Fortunato, CEO of Richemont’s Fashion and Accessories Maisons, eloquently states, “At AZ Academy, we will create a bridge between designers and investors, transforming creative visions into viable business plans to attract investors. What better way to pay tribute to Alber Elbaz?

AZ Factory has been paving the way for this transition for some time. In January, the brand gave up its own show during Haute Couture Week, instead offering its slot and budget to collaborator Lutz Huelle. The German designer’s “P is for ParisPre-Fall 2024 was the last collection to be produced and commercialized by AZ Factory.

While no new collections will be introduced, AZ Factory’s e-commerce site will remain operational through the end of July, allowing customers to purchase remaining products and receive necessary assistance. The company is committed to supporting affected employees through this transition and is working closely with their representatives to find the best solutions within the group.

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