The Call of U.S. Brands' Cachet

The U.S. embassy on Grosvenor Square here is still ringed with concrete antiterrorism barricades, and in Britain it's as fashionable as ever to decry...

with contributions from Tosin Mfon
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Mark Cuthbert, European managing director of Wrangler, said while the brand's products in Europe are "designed by Europeans with Europeans in mind," customers here see it as one of the original jeans brands and thus associate Wrangler with America.

Indeed, Wrangler's European in-store promotional images for spring will focus on edgy, pared-down portrayals of models on windswept plains, rather than product attributes like fit or quality, to appeal to a trend-led audience. The brand's American roots will also be referenced in Wrangler's upcoming spring collection, inspired by the Amish community, and in what Wrangler calls the line's "uncomplicated and functional approach to life and work."

Some of the American names have lost ground in the past year in Interbrand's list of 100 best global brands, including Budweiser, ranked 30th; Dell, 31st; Ford, 41st, and MTV, 52nd. "To a degree, sectors determine brand strength in various parts of the world," Frampton said. "Car marks in Britain mattered more several years ago than they do now. China is chasing fashion brands."

Interbrand cited growing competition from lower-priced chains and designer labels in determining Gap's brand value had fallen 15 percent to $5.48 billion, ranking it 61st, down from 52nd in 2006. Gap has taken some steps recently to make the brand more relevant to fashion consumers outside the U.S., including:

- Offering for the first time a fall collection that is designed entirely by a European team.

- Tapping Marie Amelie Sauve, a Balenciaga stylist and an editor at French Vogue, as design consultant.

- Launching in October Gap Design Editions footwear in collaboration with French designer Pierre Hardy, on the heels of a 2006 collaboration with London-based designer Roland Mouret. Most of the Mouret styles sold out, according to a Gap spokeswoman.

In the end, Europe tends to share more Western values and ideals with the U.S. than some other parts of the world, so alterations in a U.S. brand's image stem from trends in relatively small locales. American advertising used to be about the country's freedoms and the world's global nature, Clifton observed, adding, "now a lot of countries feel as though they're free."

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