You Should Be Reading: Heritage Fashion Brands


The recent announcement by Viktor & Rolf of their decision to abandon their ready-to-wear collection and focus on couture (and highly profitable fragrances) got me thinking about the evolution and fate of various fashion houses and brands throughout history. What are the factors that lead to one designer’s name living on and their legacy being preserved, while others who may experience just as much notoriety or success at one point in time are later forgotten? The following three articles explore issues surrounding reviving heritage fashion houses at Pucci and Schiaparelli, and the difficulties facing a legendary designer’s successor at Oscar de la Renta. 

1. Friedman, Vanessa. ‘Keeping the Oscar de la Renta Name Alive.’ The New York Times. February 13, 2015.

‘The first day of Peter Copping’s new job at a new brand in a new country did not go exactly as planned. Instead of going to the offices of Oscar de la Renta on 42nd Street across from the leafy gardens of Bryant Park and taking his place in a glass-fronted office next to Mr. de la Renta, the designer who had recently named Mr. Copping his first-ever creative director and heir, Mr. Copping found himself at a pew in the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue, behind Donna Karan and somewhere in the vicinity of Michael Kors and Tory Burch, attending Mr. de la Renta’s memorial service. […] Fashion is notoriously bad at succession planning: Its history is littered with stories of designers who sold their companies without naming their heirs and were unhappy with the results, from Hubert de Givenchy to Yves Saint Laurent, or whose brands fell apart after their death through lack of foresight (Halston, Bill Blass). At Oscar de la Renta, however, for arguably the first time, a designer had consciously tried to change the narrative.’ – Article Excerpt

2. Madsen, Anders Christian. ‘Rules of Revival: How to Resuscitate a Fashion Brand.’ i-D. 14 November 2014.

‘Fashion likes to talk about its musical chairs a lot. So much that it sometimes seems as if more high-value name brands are added to the pool just to increase the options and raise the bets. Last week, the following email rolled in: “Paris, November 7, 2014 – Schiaparelli is announcing today the end of its collaboration with Marco Zanini. The House of Schiaparelli is looking towards its future while transcending the aesthetic codes created by Elsa Schiaparelli. It follows a dynamic where a contemporary spirit meets its founder’s daring personality. Schiaparelli will announce its new creative director soon.” No teary goodbyes there, apparently. Zanini’s departure didn’t create massive waves of shock and despair in the industry, partly because it was somewhat expected but mainly because the re-launch of Schiaparelli somehow never generated the hype and excitement of its legacy. So what would have made things different for Schiaparelli 2.0?’ – Article Excerpt

3. Merlo, Elisabetta and Mario Perugini. ‘The Revival of Fashion Brands between Marketing and History: The Case of the Italian Fashion Company Pucci.’ Journal of Historical Research in Marketing 7(1): 91-112.

The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the contribution that history can give to marketing strategies aimed at revitalizing fashion brands. It focuses on the revival strategy implemented in recent years by the Pucci fashion company. The analysis is carried out in four parts. Marketing literature dealing with “brand revival” is reviewed in the first part. The second and the third part deal with the main characteristics featured, respectively, by the original and restored Palio and Vivara collections. In the fourth part, by applying the key concepts provided to us by the marketing literature, we pinpoint the chief values which Pucci’s retro-marketing strategy has emphasized upon and those that instead have been partially, if not completely, neglected. The research is based on a mix of sources including records kept by historical archives, fashion press, economic and financial databases and exhibition catalogues. The research shows that resorting to the past to revitalize a fashion brand can backfire if the retro-marketing strategy is not supported by an extensive knowledge of the firm’s history, and by a well documented analysis of the historical background in which the brand was originally introduced. – Paraphrased Article Abstract

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