Former Ralph Lauren Exec Jerome Espinos Launches French Legacy Group, Snaps Up Clergerie

Former Ralph Lauren exec Jerome Espinos is officially launching French Legacy Group —  and his first big acquisition is storied shoe brand Clergerie.

French Legacy Group — which is controlled by Mirabaud Patrimoine Vivant private equity fund — snapped up the label from First Heritage Brands and fashion executive Jean-Marc Loubier. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

The goal of French Legacy Group is to acquire brands with “a strong identity and recognized expertise to redeploy them, support creation and accelerate their development,” said Espinos.

As the veteran footwear leader takes the reins, he is emphasizing “Made in France” craftsmanship and hopes to expand the influence of Clergerie’s Romans, France factory, which employs 112 artisans. Notably, Espinos himself was born in the Romans region and has extensive experience both in France and internationally. After spending 11 years at Charles Jourdan, he was the general manager for Italy at Rossimoda before working at Ralph Lauren for 10 years as the head of footwear and accessories collection.

“The Romans workshop will become a unique laboratory, open to other brands who wish to benefit from [a combination] of tradition, innovation and sustainable development,” said Espinos.

Designer David Tourniaire-Beauciel will continue to oversee the creative direction of the brand.

In addition to Clergerie, the group now owns Avril Gau and Violet Tomas. “These brands have been strategically chosen for their complementary positioning and product offerings,” Espinos said.

Avril Gau — who previously worked for Clergerie as well as big names like Chanel and Loewe — debuted her eponymous brand in 2002. Her collections are a blend of classic and contemporary designs, which emphasize both comfort and quality.

Avril Gau
Avril Gau
CREDIT: Courtesy Image

Espinos created Violet Tomas in 2017, a line of wearable, elegant shoes that are designed to be worn from day to night.

French Legacy Group has a multi-pronged distribution strategy in the works and touted its own retail network, as well as partnerships with key retailers as well as a digital focus.

News of a Clergerie deal was first reported in WWD this summer.

Mirabaud Patrimoine Vivant private equity fund has previously invested in Carvil, Le Coq Sportif, Mauboussin, Anne Fontaine and Korloff, among other labels.

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