Fashionably Rude

The fashion world is ripe with cyber bullies. The day after new collections are sent down the runway, designers hold their breath while they log online to read the reviews—the results often lie at two ends of the spectrum: really positive or really negative. “Trolls” rule this space within the fashion sphere and have the power to make or break designers’ careers and subsequently the success of global companies. Although professional critics are the ones who ultimately decide whether or not a collection fits within their confine of what qualifies as “good” at that particular moment in time, they have been known to be quite harsh. Despite cutting words from these critics however, words from the mass populace can prove to be equally detrimental. After all, it is the fashion-informed public that will be purchasing the items from such collections upon their arrival to retail outlets.

Not to overkill the topic of Saint Laurent Paris, but one particular designer who has received a noteworthy amount of heat from critics and fashion fans alike this season is Hedi Slimane. I’ve mentioned my opinion about Slimane’s immediate re-branding of the iconic YSL label in my post Why-SL?, and yet, I’m surprised by what he chose to send down the runway of his Fall 2013 Ready to Wear collection. According to critics, Slimane’s second women’s collection was an extension of his men’s show, and drew inspiration from the 90’s grunge era. Similar to the L.A. environs that dictated his vision, Slimane made sure that the venue was heated to a true Californian temperature and vibrated to the bass of true grunge rock. As reported by The Man Repellerrejections of this collection came fast and furious and included a few of the following:

What the hell is Hedi Slimane thinking?

 

Oh my dear Lord. Is this Saint Laurent, or an average girls high street wardrobe? I want to cry.

 

What the hell happened to YSL? I’ve seen people on skid row dressed better.

 

We did not need a Rachel Zoe x Marc Jacobs grunge resort collection.

Saint Laurent show, a huge joke on the fashion industry?

 

Women’s Wear Daily reports that Saint Laurent is relocating their Paris studios. Hopefully they don’t tell Hedi where they’re going.

Twitter, among other social media sites, were afire with disgusted fans’ opinions. Not only were YSL aficionados shocked by Slimane’s complete disregard for the house’s legendary aesthetic, but critics weren’t impressed by the old-school grunge look. In this sense, I have to agree with this overarching public opinion, but there is always another side to the story. Although his collection may not be of mine, or the collective public’s taste, Slimane stayed true to his vision—and based on his re-branding of the company, his vision would inevitably differ from Yves’s. Bashing on designers’ collections will never be void from the fashion world, but people need to remember that theirs is not the only opinion, nor is it necessarily the best. Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but people should try their best to express it in a constructive way, not through a nasty comment. Designers are artists and they operate with specific visions in mind, yet they are also creating garments for the public to clothe themselves in—they want people to admire and wear their clothes, just as much as they want to turn a profit.

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Why-SL?

To the fashion fanatics out there, this is extremely old news, but I wanted to put a post out there that addresses Yves Saint Laurent’s controversial name change to Saint Laurent Paris. When I first caught wind of the rumor that the legendary fashion house’s new creative director, Hedi Slimane, would be dropping Yves from its name, after decades of building a luxury brand around the moniker YSL, I was completely flabbergasted. At the time, I was living in NYC, interning for Harper’s Bazaar, and my fellow interns and I were oddly devastated. All of a sudden, a fashion label whose accessories and apparel we handled on a daily basis, which we pined after with desperate longing, was forever changed. My point comes to this—after years and years of financial stability and iconic collections, why would Slimane choose to rebrand such a legendary label?

As a college marketing major, I have learned that rebranding an existing product or company is among the hardest marketing feats to pull off. The new branding strategy must encompass everything the company is about, including the brand as an organization, product, person, and symbol. The company has to live and breathe its strategy, via its brand position, in order for consumers to believe them. What really puzzles me in the case of Yves Saint Laurent is why the creative director felt the need to introduce change. And why leave the famous company logo (YSL) intact? According to the press, Slimane was attempting to introduce a brand overhaul, yet looking at his latest collections for Saint Laurent Paris, the overall aesthetic of the clothes is almost entirely unchanged. Perhaps I’m a stickler for believing in the old adage “don’t fix what isn’t broken,” or perhaps I’m averted by change, or maybe it’s the marketing major in me, but I believe it was the wrong marketing move.

Or was it? The brand management student in me has begun to think on a more abstract level—can’t rebranding be used specifically to generate buzz around a particular label? Ah, the revelation. Slimane’s decision to change the label’s name was not accompanied by drastic changes in the genre of clothes he produced, nor the design sense they exuded. Even the brand’s logo remained unchanged. So what was the point? At first, I believed that enacting such a change merely confused customers and made loyal consumers susceptible to brand-switching, and I still believe that, to some extent, this holds true. But I now also believe that the whole thing was just to get people talking about a fashion house that had been around for decades. And from that perspective, I think Slimane was an absolute genius; he had the fashion world in an uproar! People were devastated, confused, angry—yet they were all talking about the label with great fervor. The YSL rebranding taught me a very valuable marketing lesson—sometimes it’s the small changes that lead to the biggest results.Image

Source: Dandy Diary