The ‘Brand DNA: The Key to Evolutionary Fashion Branding in a World of Luxury’ article is one of our online ISSUE segments, head to THE ETERNAL ISSUE for the complete article experience
Brand DNA is essential in brand evolution and stability. As years go by and fashion houses grow, the question at stake is: what fuels their evolution?
How do we define timelessness?
The timelessness of a piece establishes its fashion brand DNA. The little black dress, the classic blazer, and the plain white shirt have one thing in common; they are all examples of simplicity. One can build an outfit around them or with them. As pieces with no trend attached to them, they are staples in one’s closet, allowing the individual to both dress them up and down, according to the relevant occasion. They are timeless classics catering to all ages. A white, button-down shirt is both suitable for mornings in the office and afternoons grabbing coffee, while the blazer adds a sartorial elegance to any outfit – an integral part of a woman’s closet. Τhe little black dress is an incredibly versatile piece, providing a quick and elegant outfit for every occasion – its requisite nature dates back to the 1920s thanks to Coco Chanel. Chanel considered the little black dress to be easily accessorised for all women, no matter their class. Following this, in 1926, a drawing of a simple black dress labelled as “Chanel’s Ford” was published by Vogue, and the revolutionary wardrobe necessity was born. Leading up to today, countless figures, such as Christian Dior, Audrey Hepburn and Princess Diana – to name a few – have adopted its simplicity and eloquence that create this ‘clean look’.
A close-up on Hermès
Hermès is a prime example of successfully securing their brand DNA. The brand’s eye for detail, exquisite quality control, refined craftsmanship and rich heritage have allowed it to shine and thrive in a competitive environment, for years on end. It began its journey as a harness workshop, by Thierry Hermès, catering to noblemen and the upper class, establishing itself long before the Birkin/Kelly game it is most known for now. As a brand selling equestrian goods, it was clearly reserved for the elite who could afford to entertain the sport. In 1900, the ‘Haut à Courroies’ bag was introduced as an essential for riders to carry their saddles in, followed by the ‘Sac à dépêches’, in 1935, now known as the Kelly bag.
The brand has transformed the client’s journey to a game, especially when purchasing the infamous Birkin or Kelly. They are usually required to build an outrageous purchase history to be put on the purchase waiting list, and to eventually receive a bag offer. Although the outcome of this relies on the relationship between the customer and sales assistant, this process may take years, making Hermès’ goods extremely hard to get. The chase has become greatly attractive for most luxury lovers. Inaccessibility has put the brand on a pedestal, creating a dichotomy between them and their competitors, whose products are more easily accessible to the common consumer.
The game is no longer a matter of having the funds to purchase Hermès’ Birkins and Kellys, but a matter of elitism. They have created a hierarchical barrier, insinuating that there are certain criteria consumers have to meet; a status to prove to be good enough to reach the goods Hermès provides. The chase draws people in. It plays with their sense of self worth, making them feel that they should be striving to achieve some sort of approval. In turn, it encourages them to engage with the game, hoping to one day reach the end goal and experience the feeling of finally making it to the finish line. Although this is an attractive asset of the brand, its main selling point is the quality it produces and has continually been producing since 1837, when Hermès was first founded, in Paris.
The monogram: classy or tacky?
As trends evolve, many brands have also adopted the monogram look. Brands such as Gucci, Dior and Goyard are all known for their flashy lines, distinguishing their products. The monogram acts as highly visible brand marking. Although it can be styled tastefully, great debate exists as to whether this fashion choice is too flashy and can often end up looking distasteful. Society propagates that having money is a personality trait and that parading this helps in climbing the social ladder. For this reason, brands ensure that monogram products are targeted to those who want to play the part, instead of those who can truly afford refined luxury. The consumer acts almost as a walking billboard for the brand, giving it immense exposure, while perpetuating the cycle. Replicating monogram pieces is easy, adding to the majority of counterfeit goods in the illegal market. Because of this, pieces can lose their value as their replicas become mainstream. The relationship between consumers and the monogrammed look encourages us to question the role of the consumer in this exchange; are they the commodity? It also makes us wonder how we define luxury today and where we place our worth.
Appreciating quiet luxury
Quiet luxury caters towards those who need feel the pressure to prove their money. Brands such as The Row, MaxMara and Loro Piana stay away from monogram looks and trendy designs. They focus on simplicity and producing pieces that are elegant and timeless. Quiet luxury recognises the value of the product from a different perspective; it focuses on appreciating materials and the construction of the product itself. Value is based on product quality, craftsmanship, but also brand heritage. The consumer who is attracted to quiet fashion, often comes from old wealth, and does not seek external validation. These brands are recognised by those who belong in the same social circle or those with a trained eye, who understand that sometimes less is more.
A brand’s relationship with the consumer, its promised quality and timeless pieces are all attractive traits that fuel fashion brand DNA. Consumers are targeted differently depending on the brand’s philosophy and products at hand, with the aim of ensuring the fashion brand’s DNA remains eternal.
Written by Stella Georghiou
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