Analysts believe that her hiring is a sign of how the brand is trying to change consumer awareness about the industry’s environmental impact as well as the importance of diversity in hiring.
Nair tweeted that she was honored to be named the Global Chief Executive Officer at @CHANEL, an iconic company.
Nair was born in India and the news made headlines Wednesday. Nair received scores of compliments and congratulations for her announcement. One called her a serial glass-ceiling breaker.
Get the NBC News app to get breaking news and political updates
Abhay Gupta (CEO and founder of Luxury Connect in India) said that the appointment was full of “historic firsts.”
“I am thrilled. He said that this is the first time an Indian has headed a global luxury brand.
Indian-born people are prominent in a variety of financial, tech and finance companies around the world. However, this is not true for luxury brands. Gupta also manages a school of luxury management. He said that his students would be inspired by the news.
“It’s encouraging and motivating. He said that he was not from a luxury background and that he expects her to bring a fresh perspective. It’s a sign of things changing.
Nair, 52, doesn’t make up the Paris fashion scene. Chanel, however, has many products that go beyond its high-fashion designs.
Nair succeeds Alain Wertheimer (billionaire Chanel chairman and co-owner), as CEO. He is the global executive chairman of Chanel, and is the grandson of Pierre Wertheimer who founded it.
Chanel stated in a press release that Nair’s hire “will further ensure long term success as a privately owned company.” Nair will assume her new role in January. She’ll be based out of London.
Unilever, a British consumer goods company, describes Nair as the company’s first female, first Asian and youngest chief HR officer. Nair joined Unilever India in 1992. She spent time in the factories of the company early in her career.
Nair’s appointment “is a welcome change from what tends to be the formulaic model of executives that tends to run major luxury brand,” stated Imran Amed founder and CEO of The Business of Fashion, an influential industry news site.
Fashion brands may tap senior employees from consumer goods companies, but they are not unusual to do so because they have a wealth of experience in managing brands. This is a valuable asset for luxury fashion companies.
Amed stated that Chanel’s decision not to hire Nair, a long-standing human resource professional, demonstrates its willingness to adapt to changing consumer and workplace attitudes towards sustainability and diversity.
Amed stated that Nair “really has been focused on these types of topics throughout her time at Unilever.” “I believe that this signals a very important challenge for Chanel in its quest to modernize corporate culture.”
Her appointment back home is seen as a sign that Indian business leaders are rising in stature. Amed stated that it is also a landmark for women as so few women run luxury brands.
Nair described India-born Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo, as a friend. Nair was recently awarded the Great British Businesswoman Role Model of the year award.
She isn’t the first woman to run Chanel as CEO. Francoise Montenay, an American, and Maureen Chiquet were the previous CEOs. The co-founder of Maison de Chanel, Gabrielle “Coco”, Chanel, was, of course, a woman.