So, Christian Lacroix has filed for bankruptcy protection (thanks js f.) — is this the end of haute couture as we know it? Luxury’s gone as mass market as it can go, and haute couture, well, just got massacred (pun not intended). From its roots in LVMH to its sale to Falic a few years back, Christian Lacroix has presented a number of lessons for those interested in the business:
The lessons seem to be that it is now difficult to survive in high fashion without being part of a corporate group with recourse to investment for product development and flagship stores, and that the pyramid model is no longer viable.
The modern strategy, as exemplified by the growth of the Giorgio Armani brand, is a sunburst, with the designer at the epicenter and all product categories (except sunglasses, which are technically demanding) under the brand control.
Well then, it seems Marc Jacobs is on the right track with Marc Jacobs, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Jacobs by Marc Jacobs — are we not afraid of overheating, though? Anyway, back to the case at hand.
I think we were all put on alert some time back when Lacroix sought private investors. Not sure what happened after that call but I’m guessing it didn’t go very well. However, it did shed light on the painful balance between numbers and brand integrity.
“An haute couture business is very, very expensive to maintain,” said Imran Amed, a consultant to luxury goods firms. Lacroix has that “big cost structure but hasn’t realized the revenue streams on the other side to offset that,” he said. Chanel and Christian Dior Couture, by contrast, get royalties from licensing those brands in fragrance and sunglasses.
Are we all going to go down Pierre Cardin’s road now? I’m wondering just how much more luxury’s new face will be shaped by this crisis.