Saturday, 27 March 2010


This New Year I took a resolution to change a lot of things that I had done wrong last year. After all its 2010, time to turn over a new leaf. While we make new promises to ourselves that we strive to keep, our beloved fashion brands around as, that our a part of our daily lives strive to do so too. Some might have got it wrong, some might just be improving on their existing image. Whatever it might be, 2010 is a year for improvements and bright changes.

Fortunately for us the phrase "Customer is the King" hasn't gone out of fashion yet as our trends in apparel or accessory do. M&S, short for Marks and Spencer decided to do things differently this year. The largest British retailer and the 43rd largest in the world it continues to please its customers with its changing brand advertisements. Steve Sharp, Executive Director for Marketing said: “Virtually everyone loves M&S – I’ve certainly never met anyone who doesn’t – and everyone has their favourite things. But sometimes people need a bit of a justification to buy it. With the new ads we’re showing what it is that makes it better and why it’s special by focusing the ad on our quality, provenance, price, innovation, ethics and offers.” (Source for quote:

M&S hasn't always been riding high on profits or in minds of the consumers. Competition from fashion retailers like Topshop, H&M and Zara have knocked them off their position through the years. Their policy of not changing their designs to keep up with the changing fashion trends caused their downfall. They concentrated on quality, but as the consumer is fickle and buys clothes that are in trend it affected their sales. Through a survey it has been proved that a consumer only wears a particular design/trend for one season only and thus quality has been handled on that front. But M&S needed to make their designs more trendy to suit the consumer's needs, when television sets and hoardings are blasted with ever changing celebrity and fashion trends.Starting from late 1990s it faced a period of decline and in 1999 the pre-tax profits of M&S reached £655.7million as compared to £1114.8million in 1998. But it began its revival from 2007.

But as the saying goes, better late than never. This year M&S' s new approach introduces a number of new faces for the Clothing ranges with only Twiggy remaining from the previous line up. She is joined by Brazilian model Ana Beatriz Barros, singer and model VV Brown, X factor judge and singer, Dannii Minogue and Capital FM breakfast show presenter Lisa Snowdon. The new face of M&S menswear is former footballer and face of Sky Sports Jamie Redknapp.   “We’ve had huge success with the advertising campaigns over the past few years and we know from what our customers tell us that they have really loved them. But it’s important to keep looking forward and to move on. The new campaigns build on the success of the Quality Worth Every Penny strapline we introduced last year to celebrate our 125th Birthday and demonstrate the amazing value and quality M&S consistently offers across everything we sell – from knickers to chocolate to that perfect summer dress.” - Steve Sharp, Executive Director for Marketing. 
(Source for quote:

As you can see the advertisement seems fun and promises to bring in the crowds to the M&s stores. It focuses on key trends of the season, how to put outfits together, be it for the day or night. Their new ad comes as a breeze of fresh air for the Spring-Summer season translating its motto of working your wardrobe this season. According to further information released by the company Jamie Redknapp will be the new face across all the ranges for the next year including Blue Harbour and Autograph brands and will feature in a his first print campaign launching in May. Model and boyfriend of Dannii Minogue, Kris Smith will feature in a one-off Summer menswear print campaign, also launching in May. 

Here's hoping that this new marketing strategy will definitely work in favour of the brand this year. After all in the world of fashion and advertising, nothing stays put for too long.

(Images courtesy: Google   Videos: Youtube)


Tuesday, 23 March 2010


The world’s consumption rate today is undeniably something to worry about. Products are discarded sooner than they are entirely consumed. In times of rapid consumption and the deteriorating environmental conditions what is the most important thing we need. The obvious answer is eco-friendly products. The use of eco-friendly or going green products is an important step in protecting the environment.
We all love the world of Fashion, we really do. And what we love the most is when the industry concentrates on the need to go green. In 2008 New York Fashion week ramp was flooded by eco friendly clothing. Made of paper and herbs, Sasawashi, which is a Japanese fabric, was used by top notch designers such as Narciso Rodriguez, Versace and Calvin Klein. Even ace designer, Martin Margiela draped three vintage dresses over a bustier to make a dazzling gown.

In a chance encounter at a friend’s house I happened to come across a person who is the owner of an eco-friendly products firm. What might you ask? They are not garments or accessories, but something that we use in our daily lives to hang them on. Something that is extremely useful to us in many ways. Only I had never thought they could be made fashionable as well.
After hanging out with Mr. James Chu founder of the company HangSavvy, I realised that their product is particularly fascinating in an eco-friendly way. Wondering how it all began, I questioned him about the company. James: “The HangSavvy story began when I was lost in London looking for an art gallery and a complete stranger showed me the way. When I told him I’m a product designer he proposed the idea of finding a solution to his piles of wire clothes hangers he gets from dry cleaning and within a few weeks the HangSavvy team made up of a few good friends worked on getting a solution to the masses.”

Then the question arose of how hangers can even be savvy? For me a hanger is just a banal utility item hanging in my wardrobe to support my clothes. What was so special about what they did? How would it help me in buying such a hanger? These things were racing through my mind when James cleared my doubts. James: “We do savvy things with hangers, the name is very appropriate and pretty catchy as well. The first impression I always get when I say we produce cardboard hangers is “does it actually work”? Often closely followed by “are they expensive”? Here our challenge is educating the general public that real sustainable design can function as well as (and in our case better than) existing alternatives without needing to cost more than its competitors.
The whole view of the sustainable design industry is not helped by designers who create so-called “sustainable goods” that although have good intensions, their products have been over killed by being over built with material choice which is more fantasy than feasibility; thus making an uncompetitive and unsustainable product.
Our hangers are made from recycled paper waste sourced from all over the world and we can even able to apply colour to the surface of the hanger using vegetable dies. All our hangers undergo some fairly rigorous design processes to make sure they’re fit for the job and not unnecessarily over built. Like this we can produce a solid high quality hanger which does its job well whilst still saving on material and weight costs in production and delivery. These savings are passed onto our customers.”

Already having worked with an art gallery in the UK as part of a reduction of carbon footprint exhibition, an annual fashion show in Hong Kong, they are now working on various other projects which are not to be revealed but they promise to be exciting and superbly innovative. They even offer companies to advertise on their hangers which can be a great marketing tool for any fashion brand wanting to launch themselves in the industry. 
James: "You can laugh, but I want to change the world, and the HangSavvy clothes hanger is part of the bigger plan."

Truly hoping that this plan succeeds I wonder how many people are really consuming or are aware of eco-friendly products in the fashion industry. According to an article on written by Anna Kuchment; Statistically, green fashion occupies a tiny sliver of the apparel market. Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at market-research firm NPD Group, says it represents less than 1 percent of industry sales. Among consumers, only 18 percent are even aware that ecofashion exists, up from 6 percent four years ago. Natalie Hormilla, who writes for the blog, is an example of the unconverted consumer. When asked if she owned any sustainable clothes or accompaniments, she replied: "Not that I'm aware of." Like most consumers, she finds little time to shop, and when she does, she's on the hunt for "cute stuff that isn't too expensive." By her own admission, green just isn't yet on her mind. But—thanks to the combined efforts of designers, retailers and suppliers—one day it will be.

Companies like HangSavvy are providing a solution to the Fashion Industry to go green and even to the consumers to realise the need of protecting the environment. Their hangers are not only fashionable but are pieces of art. Question is would you go for them? Would love your comments on this one.
Check out their website for more details @


Saturday, 6 March 2010

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


In a market where 'mass' and 'prestige' collide, is the popularly known luxury goods industry. Uche Okonkwo, (business strategy consultant, luxury industry) says: 'The marketplace would be colourless without luxury brands. Luxury fashion brands are unique, intriguing and special. Luxury fashion provides a means to a lifestyle that is triggered by deep psychological and emotional needs, which is expressed through ingenious products. Luxury brands are now trying to spread their wings in order to cover all classes. A luxury brand to survive has to invent and implement consistent integrated strategies, innovative techniques, management control and constant auditing. As every brand aspires to attain a luxurious prestigious status only a few brands make it. The succesful brand is one that understands the need to constantly innovate and find a balance in becoming timeless.  But the question to ask is how do you market a brand as a luxury product when it has to sell items from £20 to £20,000. Where does the luxury bit come in?

Luxury brands didn't happen by accident. They have been uniquely crafted and created through consistent branding strategies. Why is it that if today Marc Jacobs shows a collection in white it will be the 'in' color or if Karl Lagerfeld decides that cone heels are the way to go the industry will be adopting the trend. The brands have created an image in our minds, an image of trust that whatever decisions they take make the fashion industry move forward. Uche Okonkwo states, 'The strong attachment that luxury consumers have to brands, which often defies logic, is the result of branding.'

The core characteristics of a luxury brand are innovation, premium quality, price, brand strength, exclusivity and craftsmanship. It is the number of hours put in to make that perfect Hermes Kelly bag by a single workman. The price of that craftsmanship is the symbol of luxury. A luxury brand strives to create a product for a consumer that satisfies him/her with the quality and service it provides. When you think of shoes you immediately think of Jimmy Choos/Blahniks, if you think of bags, Hermes pops into your head. This is the differentiation quality. All these brands have managed to create a niche for themselves in the market in terms of brand image and name.

One of the strategies of a luxury brand has been to make itself visible in every sector. Be it accessories, garments, home furnishings or even Marc Jacobs designing a dog cage. Its all about expansion and putting your brand name out there. The strategy is to reinforce, recreate and return into the minds of the consumer again and again to build brand loyalty. The name, logo, packaging and presentation; all go in the making of a brand. The luxury brand stands for unmatchable quality and desirable quantity.
Let us take the example of Giorgio Armani to study the strategies of a luxury brand. The sole shareholder of the Armani brand, Giorgio Armani has created a name for his brand by penetrating every market segment with his lines. The company stands for its design which is the most important ingredient of fashion and luxury apparel.The individual style of the designer has become crucial in creating and sustaining the fashion brand strategy. 

Giorgio Armani with its iconic popularity amongst the elite of the society and the fashion literate segment of the market has followed steps by extending the brand. Today the Armani brand architecture encompasses one corporate brand and five sub-brands, each catering to different sets of target customers and at different price levels.
The signature Giorgio Armani line: This is the main collection of apparel that consists of the signature Armani suits, Oscar gowns and so on, which are of the ultra-premium price points and essentially targeting consumers in the 35-50 year old age group.
Armani Collezioni: This is Armani's venture into a slightly lower market segment. This basically caters to the segment of people who aspire to wear Armani apparel but cannot afford the ultimate signature line, or to those who crave to add extra products to their existing portfolios. The Armani Collezioni brand, with a price point of almost 20% lower than the main line, provides an excellent line of affordable fashion.
Emporio Armani: Targeted especially at the young professional segment in the 25-35 year old age group, the Emporio Armani brand provides contemporary designs that are relevant to the target customers.
Armani Jeans: This is the lowest range of Armani apparel. This is to the value segment what the signature line is to the premium segment. Catering necessarily to the young adults in the 18 to 30 year old age group, the Armani Jeans collection provides a trendy yet fashionable and luxurious line of apparel.
A/X Armani Exchange: This is the licensed brand of chain of retail outlets of Armani fashion house. This serves as the ultimate testimony to the power of the brand. By providing the entire range of its apparels and accessories, Armani Exchange provides customers with the complete feel of the luxurious fashion of Giorgio Armani.
 (Data collected from Venture Republic: branding and marketing firm)
They even ventured into confectionaries, resorts, furniture and flowers.

Armani's strategy was to make itself visible in every product category so that the consumer 
could own atleast one luxury product and then even come back for more. Its pricing was  done to attract every kind of segment and consumer class. While it provided haute couture to its high-end consumers it also reached out to the middle class ones. But how positively or negatively is this or was working in their favor. The concept of brand dilution entails that a company enters a new market through possessing strong brand identity in order to earn good profits and to enhance shareholder value by maximizing ROI. So by creating diverse revenue streams it resulted in diluting its image. Armani stands for its quality and name in apparel but by divulging into other streams it has it has reduced its exclusivity by franchising its name to literally everything.So in the luxury market where everything is set apart from the commercial brands like H&M and Zara that sell apparel at lower prices than luxury brands but are as good in quality, where do you find real luxury, if everything is so available? 

(Images courtesy: Google)