Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2024

© Asian Media Group - 2024


Leena Nair


WHEN French luxury fashion house Chanel announced business executive Leena Nair as its next global CEO in 2022, it reverberated through both corporate corridors and the fashion realm. After all, the announcement marked a historic shift for the European male-dominated ultra-luxury fashion brand, as it handed a woman of colour the helm for the first time in its 113-year history. Boasting decades of experience in human resources and company culture at multinational fast-moving consumer goods company Unilever, Nair today not only stands tall among the top executives in luxury fashion but also brings a fresh perspective and an outsider’s view into Chanel as it steps into a new era. Soon after assuming the leadership at the French couture-and-beauty icon during a period of transition after Karl Lagerfeld’s demise in 2019, Nair was charged with upholding the luxury label’s longstanding success while orchestrating a shift in structures and narratives. At the time, she had no prior experience in fashion or as a CEO, but she did have several decades of leadership experience under her belt at Unilever. Now close to two years into the role of global CEO with the Nair-effect trickling in, it is safe to say that her appointment was a daring yet smart move by Chanel. “Lift as you climb” has always been her motto. Staying true to her beliefs, soon after taking the reins, Nair increased the funding to Fondation Chanel, which supports women and girls in fulfilling their careers, to £78 million annually. Under the new leadership, the luxury brand has also put sustainability and renewable energy efforts in the spotlight to align with the principles of the climate-conscious future shopper by launching a sustainability-focused beauty range, N°1 de Chanel. Chanel has also recently announced plans to cash in on its status among ultra-rich premium shoppers

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