Sometimes I think over-protecting a brand may not, actually,be the best thing for the brand. Consider the news, making waves at fashion week, that Saint Laurent has decided to pull all its business from Colette, the Paris super-boutique so dear to the industry, because they are mad about it selling a brand-mocking T-shirt. The big, global company slaps down the little, independent boutique. So who looks like the bully here? It makes me wonder if they really weighed the public image consequences of their action.
The question of “what will they do the next?” has been answered: after collaborations with Stella McCartney, Roberto Cavalli, and, most recently, Marni, H&M has unveiled what is perhaps its most counter-intuitive creative partner to date: the brand famed for its deconstructivist approach, Maison Martin Margiela. You could say it has mystique, but it’s a mystique of the conceptual, and this is, by definition niche. H&M is by definition not niche, so it seems to me we are faced with something of an oxymoron here.
Spring-summer collection 2012. Credit: Catwalking.com
Before his pre-fall collection for Lanvin today designer Alber Elbaz told a funny story. He was in NYC a few months ago for a meeting about the new Lanvin Men’s store, he said, and took a cab ride down Fifth Avenue. He passed megastore after superstore (he didn’t name them but the new, airplane-hangar-sized Uniqlo and H&M come to mind) and by the time he got to his new store he was in a tizzy. “We have to be bigger!” He told his architect. “New York is all about big!”
After the runaway viral success of his YouTube video for the Lanvin autumn/winter collection, designer Alber Elbaz has lent his hand to Claridge’s christmas cheer by creating their holiday tree. I feel a clever brand extension coming on.
WWD has launched an attack on the dumbing down of fashion. “In the zeal to court and clad the proletariat, is it becoming no longer PC, or even of interest, to celebrate the levels of research, of design, of intricacy, of detail, of materials (all fabrics are not created equal) that go into high-end fashion?” writes Executive Editor Bridget Foley. And that’s just the tip of the whiny iceberg.
What’s a brand to do when it has a good idea and then everyone copies it? Accessorise, of course! So seems the conclusion, of H&M, which is embarking on a new project with Lanvin, Today, for example, a new, full collection video with serious production values has launched on the H&M home page starring, in no particular order, Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz, and famous models including Natasha Poly and Hannelore Knuts (among others. Take that, Target!
The Vanity Fair New Establishment 100 list has just been unveiled, and its criteria for picking “the 100 most influential” are increasingly impenetrable.