Reinvention Failures: Managers' Miscues Hurt Creative Rebirths

Blame management, not designers - at least that’s the opinion among many observers regarding the revolving door at struggling fashion houses.

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Lessening the chances for a comeback miracle, many of the brands being revamped today were never at the “top” of the fashion system, even when the designers were alive, Golbin noted.

In the first sign of what may be more to come, Alain Dumenil, the new owner of France Luxury Group, in March said he would put the Jacques Fath brand into “hibernation.” The previous owner, Mounir Moufarrige, had attempted an overhaul with a hip designer, Lizzy Disney, which failed to jolt a dusty name.

Still, most observers predict that the industry will continue to take its chances, especially since the cost of starting new brands remains prohibitive.

“I would give my left hand if someone would give me a chance at an old brand,” said retailer Jeffrey Kalinsky, who operates Jeffrey stores in New York and Atlanta. “There’s a cachet to them that’s different from a new designer’s name. In fashion, we love to hearken back to things anyways.”

Dresner agreed the “urge to renew” old names should not be underestimated.

“But I think the semi-forgotten brand is better off forgotten,” she said. “Would I be interested in a Nina Ricci? Yes, because it has a past that was feminine. But I would not buy something just because it’s an old name, only if it pertains to my customer. It has to be something that’s good.”
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