Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Real Thing- Chanel No. 5

Just like all luxury items, perfume is an indulgence that adds pleasure to one’s daily life. It is not essential, as one could certainly live without a few sprays of their favourite fragrance each morning. As Christopher Berry cleverly puts, “ Everything necessary is needed not everything that is needed is thought necessary” Yet, despite its non-necessity, perfume continues to be greatly successful in all cultures, and has been known to generate more income for fashion companies than their principal product. The reason why perfume is so successful is mainly due to its accessibility. They provide customers, some of who cannot afford the authentic Prada dress, or Gucci shoes, to have a taste of the real thing without severely damaging their bank balance.

This essay will focus on one perfume in particular, one of the best selling perfumes in history; Chanel No. 5. It will discuss what makes this particular fragrance so successful, and will also compare and contrast a fake Chanel perfume with the real one.

Chanel No.5 was created for Coco Chanel by French perfumer Earnest Beaux. It was made in 1921, when Chanel’s career was taking off as she emerged as the new queen of fashion. The fragrance was unlike any other of that time as perfumes normally consisted of only one flower scent, but Chanel No.5 was made up of over 50 different ingredients. Therefore it was original and unique, and a success right from the beginning. Kita Autstin says, “ No. 5’s composition is heavily made with jasmine, which was at that time the most expensive perfume oil in the world, due to the fact that Coco wanted make the costliest perfume in the world. Another important ingredient was synthetic floral aldehydes, which it was the first perfume in the world to us in such great quantities’. Additionally, Chanel always had a feel for what was modern; therefore the shape of her fragrance bottle also reflected her taste for the future. In comparison to all the other perfume bottles of that time, Chanel’s bottle was simple and uncomplicated. Many of the others were extremely ornate and came in all different shapes and sizes. The bottle shape for Chanel no.5 was created from a quick sketch made up of a basic rectangle and square lid. Below is a diagram of the evolution of the perfume bottle. As demonstrated, there are the elements of change throughout the years, yet the overall aesthetics of the bottle remained rather consistent.

The name “Chanel No. 5” was born when Earnest Beaux placed twenty-five different fragrances in front of Mdm. Chanel. She consequently chose the fifth perfume in line.

Therefore, in analysing the design choices of Chanel, by making her bottle an exciting new shape, as well as devising a ground- breaking scent and a memorable (yet simple) title, there is little wonder why the perfume was such a hit. However, there was one other element that added to the success of Chanel No. 5 - Its media attention. Marylyn Monroe was the perfume’s biggest fan, and Chanel made sure everyone was aware of this. Soon after its release Marlin Monroe became the face for the fragrance as she was famously quoted saying, “All I wear to bed is a few drops of Chanel No. 5.” Undoubtedly the power of advertising had a great impact on the success, therefore adding all the wise business and design choices together made Chanel the biggest selling perfume in History to this day.

There are, however, less glamorous sides to creating the world’s most sought after perfume. Counterfeits have taken over many areas of the fashion business and the perfume department is no different. Maria Ricapito from Harper’s Bazaar says, ‘As fashion counterfeiting is increasingly driven underground, fragrance is the latest front in the fight against fakes’. One must consider that perfume is a multi million dollar business, which means the black market has been growing to satisfy the rising demand.

The competition for No.5 within the faux perfume industry are also lines from the Chanel brand; Coco Mademoiselle and Coco Chance. Besides these two fragrances, Hugo Boss and Nina Ricci “Nina” come in close behind. Still, counterfeiting is no matter to be taken lightly, Harvard graduate Zacharey Pollinger states, “The international sales of counterfeit goods comprise a $600 billion industry representing between 5-7% of total world trade.” This quote supports the fact that the industry is growing and, more over, it is not stopping.

As primary research, I went on a quest to find real Chanel No. 5 as well as the fake, and to compare/ contrast the differences. Not surprisingly, the hunt for the real thing was very simple and straightforward. I visited Galleries Lafayette and was welcomed by a warm and spacious atmosphere. The Chanel counter was clear and I could spot it immediately from across the large and busy room. As I approached the counter a sales assistant was smiling at me a few minutes later asking if she could help. I asked for some samples, asked a few questions and said goodbye, with a comfortable feeling and a classic smell on my arm.

The experience of the fake perfume, however, was quite different. I had heard that the place to get any fake goods is the infamous Barbes metro station in the 18th arrondisment in Paris. This was only my second time visiting the area, so I was more or less uncomfortable from the moment I stepped out of the metro doors. As I came out, I noticed a large riot coming towards me, as flyers were simultaneously being waved in my face, leaving me very flustered and anxious. As I crossed the street I saw a large sign which said “PARFUM 5€” Thus, I headed straight towards it and briskly asked the man standing in front of the stack of perfumes if he has Chanel No.5. His eyes lit up as he confirmed and pointed to a bottle in the middle of the stack. I told him I’d buy it, with the intention of getting away as quickly as possible. He handed me a bottle which looked nothing like Chanel. I questioned his offer and repeated in a clearer voice “Chanel. No 5, s’il vous plait” He nodded his head in agreement and sprayed this strange perfume on my wrist. It smelt similar to No.5 gone stale, but some thing was not right about the peculiar smell. Next, he handed me a bottle titled, ‘The fifth hour’ and said proudly, “The French version.” This was exactly what I had been looking for, so I handed him the 5euros and quickly caught the fastest metro out of there.

The reason why I explain the two different experiences is to analyse the different elements that define the real thing vs. the fake. Luxury is not only about a product; it is about the treatment one receives when purchasing. It is also about the environment, the atmosphere and the overall experience given when one is being sold an authentic product. The famous Brazilian temple of Luxury, Daslu, understands the importance of true luxurious treatment, “Inside, shoppers are pampered like royalty by armies of tanned salesgirls called "Dasluzetes" who pepper their conversations with phrases in English and silent servants in black maids' outfits with white lace collars and cuffs.” This example may be excessive, however, it supports the point that comfort and quality of treatment certainly play a large part in the ‘real’ experience. For the case of the fake goods, the environment is cramped, uncomfortable and often dirty. This affects the buyers experience and hinders the overall pleasure, thus also affecting the perception of the good.

In analysing the design elements of the two perfume bottles, the main difference can be seen in the packaging. The wrapping of Chanel No. 5 was immaculate; the plastic film was tidy and the cardboard box was obviously of high standards as it was thick and slightly textured. The packaging of The Fifth Hour was quite the opposite. The film wrap was loose and badly glued. The cardboard of the box seemed thin and breakable. The bottle of The Fifth Hour was also very plain (like Chanel) yet it lacked design and workmanship.

The smells of the two perfumes were also quite different. No.5 smells musky and heavy- it exudes elegance. The Fifth Hour, on the other hand, smells sour and although the smell may resemble the real thing, there is obviously something off. Another vital factor that separates the real from the fake is that fact that Chanel will stay on clothing or skin for an entire day, sometimes more. The Fifth Hour almost completely vanishes within twenty minutes of applying.

To go in further detail, there are actually dangers of counterfeit perfume. Unlike a handbag or a pair of shoes, perfume comes in direct contact with the skin, thus it is vital that the ingredients are safe. However, is not usually the case with fake perfumes. Maria Ricopito explains, “Fake have been found to contain contaminated alcohol, antifreeze, urine, and harmful bacteria.” She explains the body absorbs fragrance and in some way digests it, hence the ingredient used in these fake perfumes can be harmful to ones health. There have been numerous reports of bad rashes appearing on the skin and other types of allergic reactions.

In conclusion, Chanel No.5 has attained great success throughout its long years, and the counterfeit market has not let this gone unnoticed. They steal the fragrance and concept of No.5 to lure people in search for a good bargin; people who are many times unaware of its dangers. Luckily, however, the increasing perfume sales of the black market have not affected Chanel headquarters success, as the real thing is still sold every thirty seconds around the world.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Global Luxury Manufacturing

Check out this article at Luxury Society about the changes in global luxury manufacturing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holograms tell Fakes from Fendi by Christina Passariello

by Gayatri Mittal

Christina Passariello is the European luxury and fashion correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, based in Paris. Some of the terms she uses in the article are encrypted, consumer, authenticity, experts, holograms etc.

Holograms: Holograms have been used for years to ensure authenticity of consumer goods, from tennis rackets to concert tickets. Holograms are difficult, and expensive, to copy. Holograms are made with heavy, expensive machines that create patterns using laser beams. The holograms often include bar codes, images or numbers that are visible only under a special forensic machine.

Over the past few years, as counterfeiters have become more sophisticated, the quality of their products have improved. French fashion house Louis Vuitton, acknowledges that copies of its handbags are sometimes so good that consumers realize they're fake only when they take them into the company's boutiques for repairs. Still, even luxury-goods executives admit holograms aren't foolproof. "Holograms are better than nothing, but they are already being copied."

What effect the holograms will have on consumers? There are people who don’t care and for those who do holograms should allow customers to know whether the product is authentic or not. But it is necessary to know how these holograms work.

Companies like Fendi, where the technology of the hologram is so valuable that it hopes that the complexity of the holograms will help smoke out fakes and is an extra effort against counterfeiting.

It is definitely relevant in the real world. As the counterfeiting business becomes highly complex, the luxury brand companies are doing everything to protect their goods and their customers.

It’s in the Bag by Dana Thomas from Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster.

by Gayatri Mittal

Dana Thomas is the author of the New York Times bestseller Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster. Based in Paris, she covers the fashion industry and culture. In the chapter It's in the bag she is presenting facts based on observational and historical research. Some of the key terms that she explains in the chapter are:

“Entrance Products” to luxury brands: Handbags and other small leather goods once costing as much as, if not more than, ready-to-wear.

“It” bags: the latest hot designs that thanks to luxury brand ad campaigns and fashion magazine articles have become the must have of the season. The “It” bag phenomena is young.

“Game bag”: During world war two, handbags became simple and practical, like the leather backpack and the “game bag”, a largish sac worn across the torso so that one could ride a bicycle easily, the preferred method of transportation.

“Affordable Luxury”: The chapter gives an example with the Coach. The idea was to reposition the brand as an American alternative to Prada and Louis Vuitton.

“Sophisticated Labor”: work that requires refined skill. Some other words repeated in the text are handbag, luxury, brand, quality, craftsman, artisans, special orders/ special thing, perfection, time, ads etc.

She starts the article by saying that; more than anything today the handbag tells a story of the woman: her reality, her dreams. With the help of the luxury brand marketing, the handbag changes every few months, like the seasons, like her moods. Handbags are the engines that drive luxury brands today.

“They make your life more pleasant, make you dream, give you confidence, and show your neighbors you are doing well”. Karl Lagerfeld.

It’s easier to chose a bag than a dress because you don't have to face the age, the weight, all the problems”. Miuccia Prada.

Handbags have become so important today because the luxury brands have been pushing the message, and the product relentlessly. “It’s like you’ve gotta have it or you’ll die,” Tom Ford explained. “Everybody-everybody-is talking about handbags with the intensity of cardinals appointing a new Pope”. English journalist wrote during LFW 2006.

Then she talks about how the contemporary artists and websites have played on it. For example, have cropped up for woman to rent luxury and designer handbags for a fashionably short time instead of buying them. That way, they can change their bags more often. And artists like Libby Black, Tom Sachs, Alberto Sorbelli.

In the world of luxury brand handbags, there is a pyramid of quality: made to order down to mass-manufactured. She says the best and the finest is the Hermes handbag. Buying a Hermes is a true experience in luxury. They are the antithesis of the “It” bag. From the shopping experience to the bag is special.

Hermes like a small, intimate luxury company, and that is the same business philosophy that drives the company today. She goes on to explain how a Hermes bag is made to understand what luxury once was and what it is no longer. She refers to historical content of Hermes. At Hermes nothing goes out of fashion.

Throughout the centuries men and women have carried their belongings in some sort of bags according to the social structure. The modern handbag- “the sign of a new independence”. Advertisement companies make millions every year from handbags.

During the feminist movement all the essential woman accessories disappeared. All that remained was the baby of the lot, the handbag, and it moved up the arm to the shoulder, freeing up a woman’s hands as she liberated her mind and her soul.

A good leather handbag was a hefty investment woman preferred bags that wouldn’t go out of fashion. The answer came from Miuccia Prada. She wanted to do new designs. Nothing at Prada would be old. Prada became the emblem of the radical change. The family business of beautifully handcrafted goods to global corporations selling to the middle market.

Hermes stuck with its limited distribution. The heart of Hermes was fine traditional craftsmanship, and to sacrifice that would undermine the brand. Hermes where artisans study and at Gucci the computer makes.

How luxury bags are made in China? Emboldened by Coach success luxury brands quietly began to outsource production. According to the luxury brand the “Made in” label is the reason why it is luxury and cost so much. But with the high cost of labor mounting in Europe, how could luxury brands slash the production cost of their goods and maintain the same high level of quality. The bag that cost 120$ to produce will be on sale for 1200$. “In the end we are money generator for them”.

The luxury handbag is a study of globalization. The sourcing from raw materials to the production is sometimes as questionable as the true provenance of the bag.

With large numbers of factories in China there is a shortage of sophisticated labor and electricity leading to human right complaints. Also, as workers gain more education, they demand more in wages and perks. Even if the brands are giving more value to the workers, nevertheless there are casualties.

It is definitely relevant to the real world because the conditions still do exist for the workers in China. With the wage they are paid and the cost of the actual product that is made in China regardless of quality and workmanship, it really questions luxury.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Luxury + Authenticity = The Real Thing

Not all luxury is original and authentic in nature. Not all authentic goods are luxury. We have been exploring how in today's consumer society the design object can offer both luxury and authenticity and meet the consumer demand for the real thing. To be luxurious, the design must deliver with quality and service. To be authentic, the design must descend from original creation with a guarantee of the originality. When the luxury and authenticity come together, the excellence of design is certified as the real thing.

Luxury, Authenticity & Accessories

Above the iconic luxury goods have specific brand identities that convey authenticity. However consumers seek to personalize their goods, increasing originality as in below with Goyard and Louis Vuitton.

The seemingly original Goyard bag with monogram is a mass produced and consumed item as seen below in the documentation by Bill Cunningham.

Bringing authenticity to a hand bag can come in many forms. Above Lagerfeld S 2009 uses the face of the designer.

Above artists have created one of a kind bags as work, above Sylvie Fleury's cast Louis Vuitton, Murakami for Louis Vuitton and Tom Sach's Hermès bag. Below Judith Leiber designs limited edition Swarovski bags for the red carpet.

Below the candy colored designs of Roger Vivier for Dior, 1953-64. The time to apply beading and fringe were luxury features that set the shoes authenticity apart from others.

Above more Roger Vivier from the Dior years and below the Roger Vivier brand designed by Bruno Frisoni, S 2011.

Below left Balenciaga F 2010 and Marc Jacobs S 2008 demonstrate an original artistic vision that makes the shoes more authentic and consequently more difficult to copy.

Above the iconic Hermès Kelly and Birkin bags. The Kelly was named after Grace Kelly in 1956 and has a more rigid, formal aesthetic. The Birkin was named after Jane Birkin in 1984 and has a more relaxed, softer feel. Both bags take numerous hours of hand crafted production.

Above and below the Helmut Newton photos that put Hermès in the fashion spotlight for Vogue Paris.

Above the iconic Chanel 2.55 named after its creation in February 1955. Read about the creation of this bag here. Below Gucci's iconic bag is the Bouvier bag named after Jackie Bouvier Kennedy and at right Tom Ford's Gucci bag design of the 1990's.

Above and below Fendi has admitted to strategically using holograms inside the bags that can be detected by customs. Unfortunately the holograms are also copied. The tactic of increasing hidden aspects of authenticity is increasing as fakes become better made.

Inside the Counterfeit Factory

Click to read the full article from the New York Times about the knock-off tennis shoe factories. The copies have increased in accuracy but the factory ethics remain a problem.

"Inspered by" the Chanel Suit

by Irina Fedotova

“Being copied is the ransom of success.”

Coco Chanel

Back at that time, when there were not as many designers as today and fashion design itself was not as wide spread and mass produced, Chanel was proudly smiling, when women on the streets were wearing jackets that looked like hers.

However, in 1930, when Suzanne Laneil copied 48 Chanel and Vionnet designs, they realized, that this could be dangerous for their business. By the court decision, Copyist was recognized as guilty and designer’s work was called “ the real work of Art”.

Today, fashion business based on looking at things and being “ inspired” by other peoples work. Designers often seem to be talking before producing stuff –that much similar work you can find on runways. Many designers, although, trying to reach their customer following same trends.

However the counterfeits and cheap fakes, that looks almost identically is of course a different story. It is illegal and dangerous business that often takes people’s lives or freedom away.

To begin with, Coco Chanel was one of the most innovative designers. She was different from others and never mentioned her background, trying to hide her poor past. Gabriel was not a very beautiful woman, but her passion to design and hard work through years made her name one of the most recognizable in the fashion industry today. First, with the sponsorship from her boyfriend, she opened a hat shop. After becoming experienced enough she started to design clothes.

She was the one who liberated women from the corsets and “dropped the waist”, she was one of first to use Jersey and tweed, just because they were cheap. Although she decorated them with an enormous amount of work so that her tweed suit were of the more value. She brought to the fashion World real pockets and bell- buttons, she designed belted cardigans and was a first to create popular “Little black dress”. She was one of those realist designers and mostly designed clothes for herself. If she was going for a dinner –she was making an evening dress, if she travelled to St. Tropez- a swimming suit. She designed what people would wear. “ Anything that skins the body, has simple shapes, is easy to move in and affords the loading on of a lot of jewelry is Chanel.”

One of the significant and the most copied designs was an Iconic tweed suit- jacket and skirt. Chanel though that knees are the less sexy part of the women’s body and made the skirt of the suit just below the knee. With this creation she achieved the aim of every designer- to create something stylish that will become classical. She managed to keep it fashionable for five decades and when she died in 1971 her name could have died too.

Although, when Karl Lagerfeld won the competition, using tweed in an interesting way and transformed the classical form of the Chanel suit using a “surf theme”, he became a senior designer of Chanel Fashion House.

Today, Karl is trying to keep the Chanel origins. For a two-piece tweed suit is always used frayed edges, ribbon accents, decorative shirring uneven hemlines, gilt trim and different texture mixture. “Chanel’s trademark couture construction techniques in its bound buttonholes, matched plates and chain weighted hemline “. Suit has also a silk lining.

The significance of Chanel today is can be simply described with four words: Heritage, Signature, Cut and Material of use.

Each season Karl Lagerfeld redesigning iconic Chanel suit. He is using new colors and cuts, reinventing the original Coco’s design.

What is so paradoxes about fashion industry that it is based on looking at the things were done before and remaking, redrawing, redesigning them?

In order to keep the image of the company, new hired designers need to use the same principles and create the same feeling, although adapted to a new modern World and stylish women of today. Customers want to have the same look, as it is created before. For example, Coco Chanel said: “A girl should be two things: Classy and fabulous.” This style however spreads rapidly through all social levels. Zara, H&M and Top Shop copy the popular model. It is nothing wrong with it, almost; as those who cant afford the real design, also want to look fashionable. Although, they know that these clothes would last long, because of it is weaker quality. People also get tired of the clothes quick, and for some there is no reason to spend a lot of money to but one original thing. Such a thing is obsolescence can describe the strategy of fashion business. Even when something is in a good order it becomes unwanted.

With a rise of new technologies and popularity of Internet, it is difficult to prevent or even follow the great amount of the products that have been “inspired” by the real thing. Photos from the fashion week show are published in the sites like 30 minutes later, but collections are on the shop only next season. Plenty of time to make a copy and sell it to someone who isn’t aware. A designer ‘s strength is in the showing first, when there is an even a poor imitation, that was showing or seen before, it is a lost of power.

Moreover, the real problem is what stands behind cheap counterfeits. Usage of children, like slaves, usually unpaid or paid very little and are risking to get arrested for being involved in a illegal business. Poor quality of the products, toxic materials of use, and many other issues comes to the head with the word counterfeits.

To conclude with, fashion design is about looking at existing and historically important thing and reworking them or picking up on a detail, that works, using your imagination, trying to explore your way of seeing. Although just copying process have nothing to do with designing, as of lack of use imaginary aspect.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

LANCOME Case Study

by Minji Kang

Lancome Paris is a French cosmetic company established in 1935 by French perfumer and cosmetician Armand Petitjean. Time International mentions Lancome’s old brand history, “born in the days when fashionable French women still wore gloves and didn't have the right to vote.” Petitjean started his business by launching five fragrances, Tendre Nuit, Bocages, Conquete, Kypre and Tropiques at the World Fair in Brussels. In 1936, Lancome created the skincare brand Nutrix, and it still exists in the market. In 1955, Lancome created a skincare line called the Océane with seaweed ingredients. Today Lancome offers skincare, make-up, and fragrance products and they are sold in over 140 countries, on three continents, including Europe, Asia, and America. Lancome has been owned by L'Oréal Corporate since 1964. To explain the relationship between these two brands, terms such as ‘parent’ company or ‘umbrella company’ are used, because one belongs to the other bigger group. The New York Times describes L’Oreal Corporate as the world’s largest cosmetics maker. Also an article from Marketing Week depicts L’Oreal Corporate as a ‘beauty products giant’. The article tells us about the brand Lancome; in the year 2003, L’Oreal invested more than four million British pounds on media to promote Lancome. Since L’Oreal is the biggest company, it embraces ethnic diversity in the company’s management and also in targeting the market. The article reports that L’Oreal has appointed its Italian luxury chief Claudio Collarile to oversee the marketing and sales duties for Lancome in the U.K. Another article from Marketing Week reports that L’Oreal launched the marketing campaign for hair care products for black women and the result was that black women in the U.K. spend six times more on hair products than white women.

To do design analysis of Lancome, we start with Armand Petitjean, the founder of Lancome who selected a rose to be the symbol representing Lancome. The design of the logo has had some changes since it was first created in 1964.

For the written logo, the word Lancome with the name of the city, Paris, helps customers to feel the sense of French chic. When the customers buy products from Lancome, the products are sold with nice packaging in pleasant spaces. Even products in small sizes such as eyeliner or lip-gloss, are always packed with an additional box outside, in a Lancome shopping bag, unlike L’Oreal. L’Oreal, targets the mass market, and buyers usually purchase the cosmetics without additional outside packaging for mascara, lip gloss, eye shadow, eye-liner, blushes in a plastic bag from Monoprix.

The Lancome stores are located in big malls, department stores, select cosmetic shop such as Sephora, and also in duty-free shops in airports. Since the products are sold worldwide, for the advertising, Lancome has hired models with diverse ethnic backgrounds and nationalities depending on the market to advertise the brand and to promote new goods. For the Asian market, Lancome employs local models and celebrities to appeal to customers.

As mentioned, in the same corporation there are imitators and competitors. For example, Lancome was the first one who created vibrating mascara. Then, Maybelline New York came up with a similar one right afterwards. After Lancome invented a mousse type foundation and blush, L’Oreal and Maybelline New York began to sell a cheaper version soon afterwards. It seems that the mass-market brands are desperately copying the real ones, but the problem is that they are actually all from one big company, and Paula Begoun argues that this is intentional.

Paula Begoun is the cosmetic reviewer and the author of Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me. She has tested more than 45,000 cosmetics from over 300 brands. She has argued that what matters in defining the luxury cosmetics is the market strategies—how they target the customers, and advertise the goods. Begoun compared the different umbrella brands from L’Oreal corporate. According to her reviews, the strengths and the weaknesses of the brands from L’Oreal are very similar, because they share the technologies that produce the cosmetics. Begoun pointed out that both Lancome and L’Oreal offer face cleansers, nice selections of self-tanning goods, and the best quality of mascara options.

In the review of the mascara from Lancome called L’Extreme Instant Extensions Lengthening Mascara, she recommends the mascaras from its sister companies saying “you don’t have to spend this much for such results, because other L’Oreal-owned lines have excellent options. Maybelline New York Lash Discovery Mascara and L’Oreal Voluminous Volume Building Mascara are equally adept at lengthening and expertly defining lashes”

Comparing the ingredients used for the products, actually many of them are identical. All three products contain aqua/water, paraffin, propylparaben, cera alba/beeswax, polyquaternium-10, carnauba/carnauba wax, and both Lancome and L’Oreal use stearic acid, panthenol, palmitic acid and hydroxyethylcellulose.

Comparing the “authentic” product from Lancome, and the “imitations” from L’Oreal and Maybelline, the most notable differences are the prices and where they are sold. L’Extreme Instant Extensions Lengthening Mascara is sold for $25 from Sephora online, and Maybelline New York Lash Discovery Mascara is sold for $6.48, and L’Oreal Voluminous Volume Building Mascara for $5.97 from Not shopping online, customers can access Lancome for more luxurious spaces. In Paris, Lancome is available in the department stores, specifically, Galleries Lafayette, Le Bon Marche, and Sephora. “Imitations” from L’Oreal and Maybelline are targeting bigger market segments, hence they are available in more common places, such as supermarkets and drugstores such as MonoPrix. Lancome customers can purchase the item with better service because he or she is able to talk to the staff who are there for recommending, and explaining to the customers, and also for counseling on skincare.

When I went to the Lancome stores in BHV in Hotel de Ville, and the one in Le Bon Marche, Paris, the sales lady gave me her full attention to me. They were very kind and nice and explained differences with mascaras. I tested new lipstick for the spring season on my hand, and the lady from Le Bon Marche handed me the make up remover wipe even before I asked for it. In the store in BHV, the lady asked me to try perfume after I bought a mascara there.

Then what makes the real thing? Marketing strategies make Lancome the luxury brand and a better brand than L’Oreal rather than by making better quality product. Bernard Catry explains that there are four different types of strategies that create rarity; natural rarity, techno rarity, limited edition, and information-based rarity. From analyzing Lancome and L’Oreal, I found limited edition strategy. Begoun said “French flair, free gifts with purchase, constant magazine ads, and attractive packaging impel women to seek out the Lancome counter.” Customers can experience more pleasure from Lancome than L’Oreal. In addition to providing new innovative products in the market in advance of the other labels from L’Oreal Corporate, Lancome maintains its high end position with better services and packaging, and advertising in the media for recognition. Then, to compensate for the expense, Lancome prices their products higher than the other ones from L’Oreal corporate; therefore it creates limted access for customers. All these well considered sales strategies make the brand Lancome, the real thing, not by natural rarity but by artificial market schemes.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Luxury, Authenticity & Fashion Design

Karl Lagerlfeld sketching for Chanel

How do we recognize the real thing in fashion design? In her book Paris, France, Gertrude Stein explained that "fashion is the real thing in abstraction." Fashion often takes real world inspiration and transforms it into abstracted material forms. Below Alexander McQueen 2008.

It is easy to recognize luxury fashion and we can also consider hand made clothing as authentic or genuine fashion expression. Below left Altuzarra and right PS I Made This which copies fashion designs and personalizes them. Using inspiration and copying is openly practiced in fashion as fashion is partly about imitation.

“Couture is my field of experimentation, and I like to take it in different directions. My idea about couture is not to cover something with embroidery like a Christmas tree — it’s how to manipulate the material until I find a truth," explained Jean-Charles Castlebajc. Haute Couture is considered the form of fashion with greatest authenticity as designers create the pieces largely by hand and close supervision.

Above right the first branded couture by Worth changed the taste for the best tailoring. Couture is officiated by Fédération française de la couture. There are now only 11 couture houses left. Below Christian Lacroix's final couture show in 2009.

Below spring couture collections and their showrooms photographed by Jacqueline Hassink.

Anne Valerie Hash, S 2009

Dior, S 2011

Givenchy, S 2011

Chanel, S 2011

Above a performance at the Chanel showroom. Couture clients are not only given special attention to clothing but many perks and services. Couture has now become a fashion showpiece reserved for the red carpet or other entertainment and political spotlights. Below the Vanity Fair article on the decline of couture can be viewed here and my article on the decline here.

Above the Facebook of fashion, Net-a-Porter, unites the global fashion consumers and has become a legitimizing provider or luxury ready-to-wear, certifying the new era of mass produced luxury. Below Net-a-Porter headquarters in London.

Below André Courrèges created extreme couture and ready-to-wear together, accepting mass production as part of his modern style.

Above YSL helped make ready-to-wear seem more chic. At a time when women were changing their fashion styles, he created Le Smoking and the Rive Gauche boutiques. Below he also licensed fragrance and cosmetics which amounted to nearly 85% of his profits.

Below Pilati carries on the sophisticated spirit in YSL ready-to-wear and created the Muse bag to add brand appeal.

Above now high end brands and ready-to-wear mix easily for consumers but the abundance decreases brand originality. Fashion is a credence good, meaning that brands provide consumers with trust in the product often over the design integrity. The copies and credence trust open consumers to counterfeits which have ethical and legal consequences.

Above now vintage couture is certified like art and heirlooms. Author Claire Shaeffer takes readers through a close analysis of a vintage Chanel suit. The details reveal the hand of Coco and are sought after by museums.

Below copies of Chanel suits with obvious faux details such as the extension of fabric past the sleeve at left and thin, unlined fabric on the suit at the right.