How Fashion Houses Stay Relevant:
Ever Changing Trends
By Joelle Beauchamp
Fashion Houses are constantly under scrutiny from the public eye throughout every segment of their existence, from social media to design. As time goes on, it becomes seemingly harder to gain the approval of the masses, so how do fashion houses remain relevant, and avoid the downfall from designer to desolate?
While some brands, like Dior, who made their name from The New Look in the 1940’s, have stayed relevant throughout the ever-changing industry, others have experienced an embarrassing downfall, such as Michael Kors, now sold at your neighborhood Meijer.
So, what exactly happened to each of these brands that caused the epic success, and utter failure?
The Michael Kors label debuted in 1981 at New York Fashion Week and was a huge success. Well-known celebrities of the time began to sport the Kors brand, however, in the 1990s, the brand took its first big hit during the recession. The Kors brand was put on hold until 2003, when a large investment allowed Kors to begin production once more, and the first flagship store was opened in 2006.
The brand’s overall scheme for product differentiation was well-thought out, with a luxury collection with a higher price range, and an affordable collection with a much lower price point to appeal to a larger market and offer goods to everyone.
What went wrong that prevented them from realizing what had the potential to be an amazing idea?
I remember as a young fashion-obsessed girl, always wanting goods with a brand name, whether it was Justice or the large MK monogram - I had to have it. Being the bargainer I am; however, I would opt to go to my nearest outlet mall to buy a monogrammed bag, rather than go into an actual flagship store. Why would I if I could get it cheaper at an outlet store or at a T.J. Maxx? Once a luxury brand throws their goods into an outlet store, it is hard to think of them as luxury.
Overexposure is the “kiss of death for trendy fashion brands, particularly those positioned in the up-market younger consumer sectors,” industry expert Robin Lewis writes on his blog. Once everyone has the same bag, and the brand pushes out no new merchandise, it is hard for people to still want to purchase these goods. Along with overexposure, comes oversaturation of the market. The Michael Kors brand has frankly spread themselves too thin, from luxury to outlet, they must pick a market to focus on.
Generation Z is a new kind of generation, they know what they want, and they do not follow the purchase trends of past generations. Gen Z tends to reject the classical style trends, and often do not sport the big-blinged brand logos. Slowly rejecting the Gucci belt, this generation is simply not going to entertain the idea of Michael Kors and their decades-too late ideas of what high-fashion luxury brands should sell.
Moving on to a less mundane topic- the success of Dior, and how large fashion houses can remain popular for centuries.
The Dior brand was created in 1946 and instantly rose to popularity with the creation of The New Look in 1947. High-profile women everywhere flocked to Dior to get The New Look, which differed greatly from the loose silhouettes of the time, and instead brought back the cinched waists and structured silhouette.
The New Look brought about the fame of the Dior name, but how have they kept their stature for so long?
The year after The New Look, Dior went global, opening a store in New York City, bringing with it the Parisian flair and exclusivity Americans longed for- but could rarely achieve.
Marc Bohan took over the Dior brand after the passing of Christian Dior and the drafting of Yves Saint Laurent- Dior’s chosen successor. Bohan can be contributed with much of the success of the brand- by streamlining the international appeal, expanding offerings into new markets, and bringing back the original flair of Christian Dior, with a modernistic take.
The brand hit a snag when it declared bankruptcy in 1978- but was bought by LVMH Group and continued to be wildly successful.
Through a few more mergers, new creative directors, and releases, Dior has kept ahold of its original appeal, exclusivity, and luxury flair. How is their fate so different from Michael Kors? What exactly did they do differently to be so wildly successful?
From creation, the Dior identity has stayed incredibly Dior. They have always prioritized exclusivity, authenticity, and popularity. While rolling with the punches of changing trends, they have managed to stay true to the original Dior aesthetic, while still appealing to a wide consumer-base.
Dior is one of the utmost exclusive designer brands- a necessary adjective for a successful luxury brand. You can buy Dior only through the brands website, stores, or a select number of approved third-party sellers. No matter what one buys from Dior, they expect to spend a large sum, from a bag, a jacket, or even their makeup line, it is not accessible to everyone, and is therefore exclusive.
Accepting Changing Times & Trends
For over 70 years now, Dior has remained one of the most popular and successful luxury brands. They have achieved this by accepting changing times and trends, and working with them, around them, and even setting them. They are not afraid to change their brand and their products in order to fit with the times.