The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever
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The time when "fashion" was defined by French designers whose clothes could be afforded only by elite has ended. Now designers take their cues from mainstream consumers and creativity is channeled more into mass-marketing clothes than into designing them. Indeed, one need look no further than the Gap to see proof of this. In The End of Fashion, Wall Street Journal, reporter Teri Agins astutely explores this seminal change, laying bare all aspects of the fashion industry from manufacturing, retailing, anmd licensing to image making and financing. Here as well are fascinating insider vignettes that show Donna Karan fighting with financiers,the rivalry between Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, and the commitment to haute conture that sent Isaac Mizrahi's business spiraling.
manufacturers and marketers have seen our authority falter. Our consumers know what they want and, whether we want to believe it or not, we no longer have much choice in the matter…. unfortunately what’s the most common among [consumers] is their lack of commonality.” Levi’s recruited a new president and CEO from outside its ranks: Philip Marineau, the former president of Pepsico’s North America division. After five months on the job on February 21, 2000, Marineau admitted that the monumental
5 “Cardin insisted that…”: “Pierre Cardin Says Prefers to Sell to Italian Group,” Dow Jones News Service, 3/15/99. 6 “This company has …”: Teri Agins, “Polo Ralph Lauren Agrees to Acquire Canadian Chain,” The Wall Street Journal, 3/2/99. 7 “The Hilfiger organization …”: Hilfiger spokeswoman, A.I., 5/99. 8 “which generated $17 million …”: Susan Chandler, “Outsourcing Risks, Rewards: The Decision to Farm Out Production of Frango Mints Has Left a Not-So-Sweet Aftertaste in Chicago, but
the history of the house and his mentor, Balenciaga. “I like the history41 of Ungaro,” Andretta said. “We had a lot of discussions about marketing. I see there is a lot of potential here, especially in menswear.” Andretta knew what Ungaro was up against: his own favorite designer. “Armani is the best industrial designer in the world,” Andretta said. “There is a line, a signature look that he is always evolving. Ungaro has a history of creativity. It is hard to make a comparison because these are
1997 stock offering allowed Ralph to hang on to 90 percent voting control of Polo, while yielding him a $440 million jackpot, turning him into a billionaire. Welcome to the era of designer as powerful brand name, with the clothes as the expression of the designer’s personality. Lauren and Hilfiger both enjoyed pole positioning, front and center in America’s malls, where they drew shoppers into more than 1,500 department stores such as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Dillard’s, where they each had
1992. “Shoppers say, ‘I can wait68 until the next sale or go to factory outlet malls and get it today,’” said Field’s Skoda. With so many retailers overflowing with fashion merchandise, markdowns were indeed the only way to keep the goods flowing through stores. Department store powerhouse Liz Claiborne sent fresh merchandise to stores every four to six weeks. Most department stores started marking down those goods nine weeks after the clothes hit the sales floor—if not sooner. The rationale