Luxe labels are the way forward

18 01 2009

Ancora un nuovo articolo che spinge all’undestatement esclusivo.

Personalmente credo che rifocalizzarsi sulla qualità “reale” dei prodotti e della comunicazione e non sulla affermazione dell’appartenenza a un “brand lifestyle” possa essere anche la miglior strategia per competere in questo momento di crisi.

Il problema è che l’understatement esclusivo comporta una riduzione dei volumi che difficilmente potranno di conseguenza sostenere i ritmi di crescita degli utili che tutti gli azionisti richiedono alle marche.

“Un filo di perle, un filo di trucco, un filo di tacco” non genera molto volume, ma potenzialmente molto valore.

Da un lato sembrerebbe quindi che nessuno dei grandi marchi possa reinventarsi in tempi brevi e senza una profonda ristrutturazione dell’organizzazione, ma soprattutto della cultura aziendale, che richiede necessariamente una capacità di investimento che in questo momento nessuno sembra in grado di mettere in campo.

Dall’altro lato i “non-marchi” (piccole o micro aziende che sempre hanno coniugato qualità e sobrietà), sopravvivono a stento a causa della loro limitata internazionalizzazione (generata dalla non conoscenza delle regole e della prassi), dell’accesso al solo mercato locale, e dal mancato accesso a una conoscenza manageriale meno “istintiva”.

Stiamo assistendo al passaggio epocale del tramonto dello “strapotere” del branding e all’alba della capacità di ascolto e di implementazione dei bisogni di ogni cliente, preso singolarmente.

Solo chi ascolterà la Voice Of the Customer e saprà orientare i suoi processi e organizzazione aziendale potrà evitare di trovarsi seduto tra le macerie.

Io credo che questo sia un obiettivo fattibile e possibile.

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Feeling the fashion frost of January?

Then why not broaden your horizons and invest in understated luxe pieces that will last right the way through the credit crunch, says Bethan Cole.

Last Updated: 6:09PM GMT 13 Jan 2009

It’s that strange, gloomy seasonal hinterland of January: the jollity of Christmas is over and the rites of spring are distant on the horizon.

There’s a feeling of austerity and bleakness around, partly due to the weather, partly the economic climate. Only the other week, Karl Lagerfeld said in an interview with the BBC, “I see (the recession) like a cleaning up. (The economy) was too rotten anyway – so it had to be cleaned up”.

Perhaps not for those poor souls who worked at Woolworths, but for the superannuated and those whose wardrobes are bulging with excess, it’s certainly time for a reality check.

It goes without saying that ostentation is seriously de trop right now. “There’s a change going on that could be termed the ‘baglash’,” says Juliet Warkentin, content director of trend forecasters Worth Global Style Network (WGSN). “It’s a movement against de rigueur, It bags and conspicuous consumption. In its place there’s a humbler design approach to luxury that’s all about understated perfection and unconscious simplicity.” In other words, it’s time to purge pieces that exude the hubris of boom time.

Logos, bling and handbags dripping with trinkets are declasse.

According to Dana Thomas, author of “Deluxe – How Luxury Lost its Lustre” (£8.99, Penguin), ostensible luxury is over because it has become ubiquitous. For example, Louis Vuitton’s logo, the intertwined “L” and “V”, once the signpost of exclusivity, has become the badge of every aspiring WAG. “For the modern consumer the placement of a perfect seam or an immaculately-sculpted collar is more awe-inspiring and authentic than any logo,” says Warkentin.

Thus Bottega Veneta’s woven handbags, with their intricate craftsmanship and subtle, yet unmistakable, transmission of brand identity chimes with the times more than a vast tote adorned with logo-ed gold stirrups or padlocks.

Ditto red-carpet-ready, Swarovski crystals-encrusted sandals, which have been replaced by butter-soft leathers (see Rupert Sanderson and Christian Louboutin) and brightly-hued suedes (see Jonathan Kelsey for Mulberry).

A precision-cut LBD by Balenciaga has usurped Roberto Cavalli’s slit-to-the-navel confections which screamed wealth, privilege and OTT glamour from every ruffle.

Even Versace have ditched their signature sexy dresses (at least temporarily, anyway) in favour of a more refined, pretty aesthetic thanks to haute eccentric illustrator Julie Verhoeven, who created their quirky prints for spring/summer 2009.

In these nebulous and grey times most of us are seeking to build a core collection of investment pieces – items fashioned from the finest fabrics – in our wardrobes. The labels to covet are Bottega Veneta, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Jil Sander, Hermès and Martin Margiela who all speak a quiet, measured language of luxury, of quality built into to every seam.

“The ultimate in discretion is Bottega Veneta,” says Warkentin. “As for pared down opulence? Miuccia Prada leads the zeitgeist and her spring/summer 2009 collection is no exception. Her spare, elegant line is classice yet feels at once fresh and new.”

Averyl Oates, buying director at Harvey Nichols, is treasuring a heavy sculptural Jil Sander wool coat she bought this season. “It’s so couture-like and Raf Simons (creative director of Jil Sander) has kept the detailing to a minimum to better serve the dramatic effect of the exaggerated collar and augmented sleeves,” she coos. “It’s a truly beautiful investment piece that has taken me from 2008 to 2009 and is still going strong.”

Brix Smith-Start of London’s hip clothes boutique Start feels we should be treasuring the high quality classics along with the recherche. “If you’re doing an edit on your wardrobe, keep anything black and anything unusual, such as a beautiful ancient silk kimono.”

The moral of the story is consign anything that shouts “I’m considerably richer than you” to the cupboard, charity shop or eBay.

“Store anything with too much bling – the new fashions are dynamic, sensual and free of gimmicks and unnecessary hardware,” confirms Harriet Quick, fashion features director of Vogue. Victoria Beckham got it very, very wrong when she sported an £80,0000 Hermès special edition Birkin the other day. Whilst a classic Hermès is a great investment right now, anything that trumpets extreme wealth, as this jewelled version did, looks frankly ugly and insensitive in the current climate.

Seems like old WAG habits die hard.

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One response

18 01 2009
Allen Taylor

Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

Allen Taylor

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