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MILAN — Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce are continuing their push for revolution in the fashion industry — this time taking on prices.
After criticizing what they deemed untimely and unrealistic shipment schedules (think beefy wools in stores in July and wispy silks in November), the designers’ latest quest is to shave prices by between 10 and 20 percent while maintaining creativity and quality.
The initiative will begin with the upcoming spring season, but is a long-term one, said Gabbana. The price reductions will occur across the board for both the main and D&G lines and margins will be squeezed to help achieve them.
“This crisis has two key aspects: it’s international and social. The first thing people say these days when they walk into a store is, ‘Nice, but how much?’” noted Gabbana, wearing a white shirt, frayed khaki Bermuda shorts and Crocs sandals. “In this moment of uncertainty, people spend more willingly on travel or spas rather than on a new dress. We want to work for the final consumer.”
Evidence of the lower prices is seen in the following items: A pair of five-pocket jeans for spring will sell for $450 (for spring 2009 they cost $695); a dress will cost $1,469, down from $2,295; a leather bomber jacket will be priced at $1,499, compared with $2,296, and an iconic stretch silk tulle corset dress will go to $3,589 from last year’s $5,200.
To obtain the price cuts, the designers talked their suppliers and manufacturers into a collective, cost-efficient approach across the entire supply chain. And everyone, from button suppliers to mills to manufacturers, is doing their part, stressed the designers. In addition, the designers’ usual selection of hundreds of fabrics was dropped to dozens that will be served up in a more far-ranging palette, while constructions will be simpler. For example, Dolce and Gabbana worked hard to develop alternative stitching techniques that are innovative, but reduce manufacturing costs.
Dolce compared the process to the resetting of a computer or a cleanup act without wiping the slate entirely clean. “The idea is to peel off the superfluous because there are too many clothes, too many seasons, too much advertising — too much of everything that is tacked onto the final price. We want to go back to how things were 20 years ago. It’s about drawing the line,” he said.
Gabbana doesn’t believe customers will feel betrayed or taken for a ride by having paid more in the past. “Our goal is the consumer and to keep the thousands of people that work for us,” he said.
Added Dolce, “This is the only way to save the market and our companies. It’s time to turn the page.”