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Lifestyle Brands

04/08/2010

A lifestyle brand is one that allows customers to immerse themselves fully into a branded experience during their everyday lives. Lifestyle brands should include categories: apparel, accessories, fragrance, and home. Examples of lifestyle brands: Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, and Tommy Hilfiger.

It is amazing what designers for home can do! At Ralph Lauren, home designers take inspiration from the fashion collection. Check it:

Ralph Lauren, Spring 2010 via telegraph.co.uk

La Plage Collection, via ralphlauren.com

And it is just me, or does anyone else LOVE this varsity patch chair?

Varsity Patch Chair, via ralphlauren.com

And the e-bandwagon continues…

04/03/2010

Richemont recently announced that it would increase its current stake in Net-a-Porter.com to full ownership. There have been a few questions raised about brands being sold by a retailer fully owned by a competitors. I think such thoughts are nonsense, especially since Sephora (owned by LVMH) sells cosmetics and fragrances by a plethora of other competing firms. The recent acquisition by Richemont is mirrored by GSI’s purchase of Ruelala, an exclusive online discount retailer. The proliferation of these types of online discount store fronts is pretty genius. Luxury companies are looking for ways to distribute leftover inventory through channels that still preserve the brand. This is why companies like Ralph Lauren and J. Crew invest so many resources into their own outlet locations (there is nothing sadder than seeing a lone Tory Burch bag tossed on a shelf at Loehmann’s).

But caution needs to be taken over the next few years as companies continue to more accurately plan and decrease inventory. After such huge success, Gilt Groupe announced that it  received a huge cash infusion to help expand its operations. But one of the main reasons the company got so much business was because of the unexpected inventory excess produced by the recession. How will the company be able to keep up the scale of business required to stay profitable?

Net-a-Porter Screen, via WSJ.com

Halfhearted attempts by companies at this type of venture are easily spotted. E-bay has opened its own online discount retail front, and I can’t help but feel shopping via Fashion Vault would be like ordering a veggie burger at a McDonald’s located in Dallas.

In Praise of Crocs

03/30/2010
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Oh Crocs, what a brilliant fiend you are.

You once only donned the soles of diabetics in hospitals that were so crippled they needed specialty orthopedic shoes just to walk. Now, with your help, all of America can look just like schizophrenic patients from a hospital wandering around the streets unattended. Clever you are to have to climbed to such great heights by taking advantage of the average American’s desire to buy something so completely unnecessary that you are deemed “cool.” How is it that you discovered wearing Mickey Mouse and Spiderman buttons on our feet was the key to our hearts?

You were struck down temporarily by bankruptcy. Your enemies (people with style, taste, and overall common sense) rejoiced at your demise. But how foolish they were to so prematurely assume your death without realizing that, like cockroaches, a scourge like Crocs does not die easily.

Now you are back in full-force with the objective of penetrating all markets. And you are surely on your way to fulfilling your dream that every American owns a pair of neon green clogs with holes that don’t keep feet dry in the rain.

This newest addition to your campaign, the creepy foot eating shoe creature from a bad trip on LSD, will forever go down in history as another case of marketing genius.

Crocs Creature, via nymag.com

Brand Acquisitions

03/29/2010

Economic hardship is the perfect environment for companies to grow their businesses. PVH acquired Calvin Klein in 2002 during the recession that took place after September 11th, 2001. Jones Apparel Group, rumored to have been looking for a high-end buy, will fully own Robert Rodriguez to help expand its portfolio of brands. And just two weeks ago, PVH recently announced that it will acquire american designer Tommy Hilfiger for $3 billion.

Tommy Hilfiger Editorial in Harper's Bazaar, via models.com

Tommy Hilfiger makes sense on several levels. PVH already owns the license for Tommy Hilfiger neckwear, a division that will now be able to work more closely with the namesake designer. Tommy Hilfiger also has an enormous cache with European consumers and supposedly makes more money abroad than here in the U.S. Lastly, PVH lacks a more contemporary American heritage brand that can compete with the likes of Ralph Lauren.

My only reservation is that PVH already has so much of its product sold at Macy’s (Bass, Van Heusen, Michael Kors neckwear, IZOD, Geoffrey Beene, CK White Label) that adding Tommy Hilfiger (a brand exclusively sold at Macy’s and branded free standing  stores) will make the company particularly dependent on the department store’s performance.

Ralph Lauren Monetizing Digital Runway

03/29/2010

Ralph has really outdone themselves with this most recent online runway show. Visitors to the site can directly buy pieces off the models while listening to commentary to editors from various magazines. These two additional qualities outshine a similar presentation done for the Rugby site last season.

RL Runway Show

Although I am impressed with this type of set-up,

I still find it hard to believe that consumers will find the editor commentary genuine. I love almost all pieces that Ralph produces, but the only-good-bordering-sycophantic nature of the speech is difficult to take. It appears that every single piece is big for this season across the board… or at least that is what they would like to have us think. It is good they mediated comments with how to integrate items into a wardrobe, but I am still yearning for something deeper.

Limited Brands

03/25/2010

Limited Brands is quite the public conglomerate. The following is its brand portfolio:

Victoria's Secret

C.O. Bigelow

Bath and Body Works

La Senza

Limited Brands previously owned Express, which will be going through its own IPO in the near future.

SUNO

03/11/2010

In light of the recession, many analysts have stated that consumers’ wallets have been closed shut. I would beg to differ. It seems more that people are looking for reasons to believe, to be inspired to buy. The companies with the most foresight (LVMH, Coach) have been encouraging their designers to focus on quality and assortment. It seems that this past season has heralded a so called “renaissance” of fashion where originality, design, and good construction has taken hold.

I came across SUNO a few months ago while reading up on an outfit that Michelle Obama had worn. Founder and designer Max Osterweis designs clothing here in New York and takes these patterns to Kenya where local artisans craft each garment in small workshops. I personally love the Afro-art-deco patterns of the Kenyan fabric and the 1960s influence of the presentations. SUNO is also meant to showcase the rapidly growing skills of the Kenyan labor and seems to be a good catalyst for some economic and social change.

Social consciousness is also a good reason to buy, no?