Monday, 22 November 2010

Lanvin for H&M Revealed! 22/11/10

The MO Down has impatiently awaited the revelation of the Lanvin for H&M collection. As previously reported, we have a certain opinion on these collaborations. Clever? Yes. Strategic? Yes. Broadening the (luxury) brand’s audience? Yes. Therefore broadening the (luxury) brand’s awareness? Yes. The one box we hesitate to check is status. Luxury brands work hard to maintain their status. They invest in sourcing the world’s finest materials, in ensuring unrivalled quality and excellence. Mass-produced fashion can be stylish. It serves a purpose, and it’s accessible. But there is a difference between luxury and mainstream, and if there weren’t, we would be out of a job.

We agree with Jean-Jacques Picart’s comment in an AFP article, that for couturiers, whose exclusivity is a vital asset, there is danger involved in associating with the high-street. For Picart, ‘high-street tie-ups make most sense for diverse luxury brands that sell everything from couture to lipstick’– like Lanvin, who are betting on strong perfume sales during this year’s holiday season. ‘If you don’t have any spin-off products then there isn’t much point,’ he said. The fragrance gives aspiring luxury consumers an entry price point.

Realistically, those who shop at H&M or Top Shop or Target are unlikely to wander in and purchase a ready-to-wear item from Lanvin anytime soon. But we are strong believers in aspiration and perhaps sales of Lanvin accessories will spike, as a result of the voracious appetite for the Lanvin for H&M collection.

Here we are, believing in aspiration (and collaborations are a gateway, are they not?), yet we are still concerned about brand elasticity and musing on dilution of brand strength. If these collaborations continue, awareness and popularity aside, these brands are setting themselves up for a debate about pricing. If it costs $90 for a (collaboration) Lanvin blouse at H&M, where do they get off charging $2500 as its usual price? It may become tough to convince shoppers to pay 28 times more– whatever the reason.

Finally, as Monsieur Picart says so well the idea of a serious designer going to work for a more commercial brand is more of a marriage than a serious designer doing a one off collection, which he likens to a fling! He was, of course, referring to Uniqlo's (Japanese clothing behemoth) decision to hire top designer Jil Sander. Let' hope that it's a marriage made in heaven and not hell a la the Jil Sander, Prada fiasco...

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Melinda O’Rourke is the founder and Director of MO Luxury, a dynamic, Sydney-based management firm specialising in luxury brands and services. Melinda and her associates at MO work with local and international brands across prestige retail, fashion, fine jewellery, timepieces and specialised services. Melinda is well-connected, well-read, and well-versed in the demands of the luxury market and its client base. Her advice is firmly based in objectivity and ultimately, accountability. Melinda offers constructive counsel and both strategic and creative thinking and is able to draw upon a strong network of specialised talent to compliment the MO Luxury team as needed. Melinda enjoys excellent industry relationships and is regularly quoted in the business and fashion media. Read more about MO Luxury,