Fashion Industry Cautiously Stages a Comeback

WWD looks at companies from Chanel to Givenchy, Eileen Fisher to Juicy Couture, as they plan postrecession business strategies.

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Giorgio Armani RTW Fall 2010

Photo By Giovanni Giannoni

Chanel store in the Dubai Mall.

Photo By Courtesy Photo

Hooks also noted Emporio Armani is doing a special collection with Reebok that targets Emporio stores and select Reebok and specialty outposts. The two have developed an activewear collection called EA7/Reebok for women and men that will arrive in stores and gyms starting in July. It features apparel and footwear designed for fitness activities.

“We’re also figuring out a new way to do quick-turnaround replenishments of the season’s bestsellers in our franchisees and specialty stores to improve sellout,” he said. “We try to second guess what will sell well, and we’ve invested in IT to keep better track because the idea is to have extra fabric in-house to be able to manufacture and ship as quickly as possible.”


For Bruno Pavlovsky, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.

Chanel’s president of fashion said the luxury brand turned the corner in the second half of last year and is growing steadily, thanks to a continued emphasis on flawless quality and innovative materials and designs.

“I think there is a good balance between customers’ perception of Chanel and the kind of product they find at Chanel,” he said. “They want to feel comfortable with what they buy and that’s the reason probably why we are quite successful at the moment.”

Chanel is keeping up a steady clip of store openings, with 10 new units planned this year, including two in China, one in Singapore, one in Vietnam, one in Lebanon and one in Turkey. In New York, the brand is revamping its store in SoHo, where Karl Lagerfeld was recently spotted shooting the fall advertising campaign.

The recovery in the U.S. is lagging behind other regions, Pavlovsky noted. “I’m very confident for the future, but today they are not back at the same levels as we had before. It will take some time,” he predicted.

Nonetheless, Chanel continues to develop high-end products using rare raw materials, a strategy designed in part to thwart counterfeiters producing cheap copies of its iconic quilted handbags.

“The product is even more than before the center of our activity,” said Pavlovsky. “I think the strength of the brand is to be able to have everything mixed together, a classic shape in a very special material or a classic material in something more fashionable.”

Several years ago, Chanel started buying up many of its suppliers — including embroiderer Lesage, milliner Maison Michel and feather maker Lemarié — in order to preserve the centuries-old craftsmanship intrinsic to French haute couture.

Recently, the brand began staging in-store events for customers to showcase the techniques that go into making a Chanel bag or jacket.

“There is no end for these kinds of things because we have new customers all the time — China is a good example,” said Pavlovsky. “It’s a permanent process for us to talk, to illustrate, to keep this heritage alive.”

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