Harmonie's Look on Fashion

Christmas Holidays and New Year are often a prosperous time for limited edition items.

Evian takes its chance every year and offers a limited edition of its bottle of water. Not a long ago was launched the 2011 edition which features an exclusive design by the Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake.

It is not the first time that Evian collaborates with a famous fashion designer. Indeed, the four last Holiday editions where redesigned by reknown designers: Paul Smith for 2010

Jean Paul Gaultier for the 2009 edition,

or Christian Lacroix in 2008

Evian is not the only brand to work in collaboration with fashion designers for limited/special editions.

The French brand Perrier worked with Agnès B for a special can of its carbonated water…

…with Dita Von Teese for a sexier version

…or with Custo Barcelona for a colorful summery edition.

Coca Cola is also a specialist in terms of customization and packaging (I guess that’s a good tool to newness for a 120-year old brand !)

Last to date, the Karl Lagerfeld version of the Coca-Cola Light Glass Bottle… It even makes more sense when we know that Karl Lagerfeld is an absolute fan of the beverage!

A stripped version by Sonia and Natalie Rykiel, of course!

A feline and jet set version by the Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli

Or a chic version by the Spanish shoes designer Manolo Blahnik:

On the business side, this trend is called “masstige“, the combinaison of mass market and prestige, or co-branding, which is applicable in many industries and for many products.

The idea is to put together two powerful brands and create new things to talk about. It is helpful to rejuvenate old brands or promote new versions of a product that has been on the market for a long time.

For fashion designers, it creates yet another support for the expression of their aesthetic and a tool to expand the scope of their name/brand.

Convinced? Tell us which designer you are gonna drink from today or which is your favorite!


Today it is time to speak a little bit about Mango, the world’s second Spanish fashion retailer (1). Even though Mango and Zara may have the same target market, their business model and strategy are somehow different.

Mango was founded in 1984 with the opening of a first store in the Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona. The founding brothers, Isaak y Natham Andic, currently keep the control of the company which is 100% family-owned. Although it would enlarge the company financial base, there is no plan of selling shares in the stock market so far.


The franchising strategy:

Indeed the franchising strategy allows Mango to achieve worldwide presence without baring the costs of store ownership. The international expansion started in 1992 with the opening of two stores in Portugal. In 1997, already half of the revenue came from out-of-Spain stores. This figure reached 77% in 2008 (2). Today, the brands has over 1700 points of sale in 100 countries. (3)


Zero manufacturing:

Unlike Zara, Mango does not manufacture any of its pieces of clothes. The company relies on “more than 140 suppliers around the world, and each region specializes in one type of clothing that it can manufacture at a competitive price”(4). With such a range of suppliers and sales in 90 countries, we can imagine that Mango’s supply chain and information system are powerful and well-designed to support current success and future expansion.

Communication focus:

Mango’s target segment is precisely defined and composed of women who love fashion and want the latest fashion trends. Enric Casi, Mango’s CEO believes that 30% of the people passing by a store is actually in the target segment. That way the essence of the brand is not deluted and the target segment is very focused (5).

Unlike Zara, Mango is actively focusing on Image, Communication Campaign, PR, Events and Celebrities to support its fashion positioning and promote its brand.

Celebrities are the core of each communication campaign. From Penelope and Monica Cruz to Scarlet Johansson and the newcomer Olivia Palermo from MTV’s show The City, celebrities are the best persons to embody the brand essence.




Mango is also using events like the Mango Fashion Awards to settle its fashion sense (6). Jean Paul Gaultier was the Chairman of the third edition which showcased young designers from different parts of the world competing in a fashion design contest. This kind of initiative is interesting in the sense that it builds the frame for the future of ready-to-wear fashion design and paves the way for the emergence of young designers.


Mango also uses its blog Keep the Beat to keep in touch with its customers and grab every opportunities to promote the brand. Last event to date: Barcelona’s Shopping Night Out early december.

As a conclusion, we can say that Mango has a distinctive positioning and strategy that is supported by a supply chain that needs to be as lean and fast as possible.

Next time, we will cover a surprising brand well depicted by the slogan “this is not the same“: Desigual. Stay tune!



(1), (2) Dossier economico: http://www.mango.com/oi/index.html

(3) Detras de la marca : http://www.mango.com/oi/index.html

(4), (5) http://www.wharton.universia.net/index.cfm?fa=viewfeature&id=1532&language=english

(6) http://www.mangofashionawards.com

I recently moved to Barcelona and I have been reading lots of articles about Spanish fashion. Many Spanish brands are currently playing on a worldwide set and offering new business models to the world of fashion.

Inditex Group

source: http://www.hablandodebolsa.com/2010/03/dividendo-inditex.html

The Inditex Group is one of the world’s largest fashion retailers, welcoming shoppers at its eight store formats Zara, Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home and Uterqüe boasting 4.780 stores in 77 countries. Inditex was founded in 1965 and its headquarters are located in La Coruña in Spain. In 2009, Zara contributed to 63.8% of Inditex’s sales (1) which makes it a inevitable player of the fashion business.

The example of Zara

Zara is the most successful example of a Fast Fashion retailer so far (2). Indeed, Zara is often quoted has a highly fashionable brand with styles that are trendy and even fashion forward. If we look a bit further into the organization of Zara, we will understand that the success factors of Zara highly depend on its rigorous and ingenious supply chain organization.

Zara is totally centered to the market (3). At Zara, everything starts from the customer and ends back to the customer. Zara identifies customer needs thanks to a continuous stream of information from stores (one of the main advantages of owning a retail channel) and fulfills those needs thanks to clear segmentation and product differentiation. To maximize the customer satisfaction, the production (of Zara and its suppliers) must be able to adapt itself to trends changes taking place during a season. Zara considers the fashion item as a perishable product which must be thus sold at most 4 weeks after its availability in store (4). Time then becomes one of the most important variables and everything possible is operated to reduce the time between the design of the product and its availability to the customer.

The competitive advantages of Zara are numerous: shops receive new products several times a week, the customer is so incited to come in shop regularly and not to hesitate on his purchases because the article will not be available next time; the new trends arrive in shop slowly so that the consumer becomes used to it and the company can answer to any evolution of the market in 2 weeks (5). Zara launches approximately 10 000 articles per year on the market (6).

Zara’s strategy includes features that are not common within the fashion industry (7):

Regular new design and rapid replenishment: 40,000 new designs are produced annually and 10,000 of them are actually selected for production. It leads to a total of 300,000 SKUs every year, including colors and sizes range (8).

Latest couture creation resemblance: Zara manages to make its garments resemble couture but then beats high fashion houses in the time to market: it takes 15 days from idea to appearance in stores compared to 3 to 5 month for H&M, Zara’s most comparable competitor.

– New product in limited supply: Zara makes a virtue of stock-outs because it encourages its customers to buy right away and at full price: 85% of the garments are sold without markdown. Customers are also more likely to visit the store often (17 times a year compared an average of 4 times for competitors) and then be exposed to more of the items.

No advertising: Zara deliberately runs very little advertising in order to keep its marketing costs low: 0,3% of sales compared to 3 to 4% for competitors.

Moreover, the 300 designers sit right in the midst of the production process so that they work next to the market specialists as well as procurement and production planners. Large circular tables play host to impromptu meetings, a prototype shop has been set up, which encourages everyone to comment on new garments (9). This proximity increases both the speed and the quality of the design process. Designers can quickly check initial sketches with colleagues, market specialists (former store managers most often) can provide quick feedback about the look of the new designs, and procurement and production make preliminary estimates of manufacturing costs and available capacity (10).

There is a big difference between the design team at Zara and H&M. While H&M offers lines designed by famous designers, such as Stella Mac Cartney or Sonia Rykiel and celebrities such as Madonna or Kylie Minogue, Zara’s design team gathers young, hungry, freshly out of fashion school designers (11). Designers must be humble enough to accept feedback from the team and share credit for winning designs (12).  To fine their inspiration, stylists and designers use information about market trends, TV series, museums, other fashion brands and browse fashionable sensitive places such as nightclubs, universities and “fashion center” (13).

Production is organized by type of product. Zara produces the “risky” products and the products presenting a big specificity in-house. 60% of Zara’s merchandise are produced in-house while H&M has 900 suppliers and no factories (14). The firm relies on contract manufacturers (mostly in Turkey and Asia) to produce items with longer shelf lives such as jeans and tee-shirts but it accounts for only one eighth of the dollar volume. Zara is so vertically integrated that it makes 40% of its own fabrics (15). About 50% of the clothes arrive undyed to allow the firm to respond to fashion adaption within a season.

Finally, the pricing policy of Zara is different compared to the practices of the sector (16). Instead of fixing its prices according to the costs and to the margin wanted, Zara identifies the price that the consumers are ready to pay (psychological limit) and the price of comparable products at the competitors (competitive limit). The final price of the product thus takes into account these two criteria. Raw materials and suppliers are then identified to produce the product with the price and the margins expected (17).

Zara’s future

“The holy grail for the strategist is to craft a sustainable competitive advantage that is difficult for competitors to replicate” (18).

Zara’s current limitations are linked to its Spain centric, just-in-time manufacturing model (19). Indeed, the firm remains hostage to anything that could create a disruption in the region. Zara is also susceptible of financial vulnerabilities as the Euro has strong value relative to the dollar. As low-costs manufacturing regions often have currencies that are pegged to the dollar, Zara’s Spain centric costs rise at higher rates compared to competitors. Lastly, transportation costs are rising and may disturb the profit margin of the retailer.

Luxury companies can take back some lessons from Zara’s organization. It is interesting to see that Zara gets its inspiration from runway shows and is actually able to put the garments on shelves earlier than the actual Fashion House from which the inspiration comes. Zara’s production facility in Spain can be a model for more high-end fashion houses that wish to put their items on shelves earlier, keep a certain control of the production and make exclusive fabrics. The main concern will be to achieve a sufficient volume so that this kind of organization is worth implementing and profitable.

Spain located Mango is seen as another leading fashion company. It will be worth another post very soon! Stay tune!

(1) http://www.inditex.es/en/shareholders_and_investors/investor_relations/annual_reports

(2) Burns L.D., Bryant N.O. (2007) “From Spinning Machine to Fast Fashion” in The Business of Fashion: Designing, Manufacturing, and Marketing, Fairchild Publications Inc, New York, pp.32

(3), (4), (5), (6) Mazaira A., Gonzàlez E., Avendano R. (2003) “The role of market orientation on company performance through the development of sustainable competitive advantage: the Inditex-Zara Case” in Marketing Intelligence & Planning, vol. 21, issue 4, MCB UP Ltd.

(7) Gallaugher J.M. (2008), Zara Case: Fast Fashion from Savvy Systems, in http://www.gallaugher.com/Zara%20Case.pdf published in 9/13/2008

(8), (9), (10) Ferdows K, Lewis M.A., Machuca J.A.D (2005), Zara’s secret for Fast Fashion, in Harvard Business Review, HBS Archive, published in 2/21/2005  http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/4652.html

(11), (12) Gallaugher J.M. (2008), Zara Case: Fast Fashion from Savvy Systems, in http://www.gallaugher.com/Zara%20Case.pdf published in 9/13/2008 (last consulted on April 5th, 2010)

(13) Mazaira A., Gonzàlez E., Avendano R. (2003) “The role of market orientation on company performance through the development of sustainable competitive advantage: the Inditex-Zara Case” in Marketing Intelligence & Planning, vol. 21, issue 4, MCB UP Ltd.

(14), (15) Gallaugher J.M. (2008), Zara Case: Fast Fashion from Savvy Systems, in http://www.gallaugher.com/Zara%20Case.pdf published in 9/13/2008 (last consulted on April 5th, 2010)

(16), (17) Ferdows K, Lewis M.A., Machuca J.A.D (2005), Zara’s secret for Fast Fashion, in Harvard Business Review, HBS Archive, published in 2/21/2005 (last consulted in April 5th, 2010) http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/4652.html

(18), (19)  Gallaugher J.M. (2008), Zara Case: Fast Fashion from Savvy Systems, in http://www.gallaugher.com/Zara%20Case.pdf published in 9/13/2008 (last consulted on April 5th, 2010)

Part of Boston Fashion Week 2010 was yesterday’s event The Launch. Five emerging designers were presenting their line to professionals and curious fashion lovers.  Overexcited ambiance backstage but an overall success and pleasure of the eyes!


Models waiting for hair & make-up:

Getting ready for the first show: Sara Marhamo‘s looks.

Sara Marhamo’s looks and runway line-up!

Designer Sara Marhamo:

Designer Sara Marhamo:

Designer Sara Marhamo:

Designer Sara Marhamo:

One of Samira Vargas‘s look of a collection inspired by drums.

Another look of Samira Vargas’s line and the designer.

Samira Vargas’s finale dress:

Designer Aey Hotarwaisaya and her black-only collection:

Designer Aey Hotarwaisaya:

Designer Aey Hotarwaisaya:

Designer Aey Hotarwaisaya:

Lovely details from Aey Hotarwaisaya’s collection:

Designer Aey Hotarwaisaya:

Designer Aey Hotarwaisaya:

Designer Aey Hotarwaisaya:

Designer Aey Hotarwaisaya:

Designer Aey Hotarwaisaya:

Designer Aey Hotarwaisaya:

Designer Aey Hotarwaisaya:

Designer Aey Hotarwaisaya:

Designer Aey Hotarwaisaya:

Designer Laura Kane with a collection of evening dresses:

Designer Laura Kane:

Designer Laura Kane:

Designer Laura Kane:

Designer Laura Kane:

Designer Laura Kane:

Designer Laura Kane:

My friend Victoria Dominguez Bagu was presenting her collection as well. I was too busy dressing the models to have any backstage pictures so I wanted you to see the pictures from her photo shoot by Kevin Day.

Victoria Dominguez Bagu photographed by Kevin Day

Victoria Dominguez Bagu photographed by Kevin Day

Victoria Dominguez Bagu photographed by Kevin Day

Victoria Dominguez Bagu photographed by Kevin Day

Victoria Dominguez Bagu will have another show open to the public on Friday October 1st at the Copley Mall and you will find the complete schedule of Boston Fashion Week 2010 on this website.

Creativity and style were definitely overwhelming during this afternoon. Special thanks to the designers, models and organizing staff for making Boston Fashion Week happen!

Pictures from http://www.yslretrospective.com/

There is only a few weeks left to discover the magnificent  exhibition about Yves Saint Laurent taking place in the Petit Palais in Paris. This exhibition is the first ever presenting the entire work of the designer. Over 300 pieces from Haute Couture and Ready-to-Wear collections are recalling the beginnings of YSL by Dior with the famous collection “Trapeze” in 1958 up to the safari jacket in 1967 and the sumptuous evening gowns in 2002.

Pictures from http://www.yslretrospective.com/

“I have always placed above all the respect I have for this profession, which is not totally an Art but which needs an artist to exist.”

Pictures from http://www.yslretrospective.com/

In 1955, Yves Saint Laurent entered the Christian Dior Couture House as a personal assistant.  At the death of the designer, Yves Saint Laurent took his place and presented his first collection “Trapeze”, which received a great success with French and international press.

Day dress, “Trapeze collection”, Dior (1958) – Pictures from http://www.yslretrospective.com/

The last collection that YSL designed for Dior (Fall/Winter 1960) was not as welcomed as the former collections because the designer introduced new garments that were previously excluded from Haute Couture collections such as biker jacket or snow hat. The public was shocked by YSL’s inspiration coming from the streets. Still, it is only the beginning of the Saint Laurent fashion revolution.

YSL presented his first collection under his own name in 1962. The pea coat, the sailor tunic were first presented during the collections of 1962. The safari jacket appeared in 1967 and was inspired from the Afrika Korps.

Safari Jacket, belt and bermuda shorts, Saint Laurent Rive Gauche (1968) – Pictures from http://www.yslretrospective.com/

With the creation of the brand Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, YSL invented the concept of luxury ready-to-wear sold in a network of boutiques. In coherence with his appeal for street inspiration, YSL dreamed of dressing students at La Sorbonne or at least of offering more affordable prices. Yet YSL claimed high quality and checked each pattern himself. The garments are different from the ones offered in the Haute Couture lines. Day looks are more functional, sportswear materials like jersey, denim, velvet are preferred and lots of print fabrics are offered. Evening looks are dressed up with tuxedos and flowing dresses.

In 1971, Yves Saint Laurent launched his first fragrance and decided to pose naked for the add campaign. He wanted to shock people and showed his taste for provocation. Some magazines refused the campaign, some offered to display it for free: it is a total scandal.

Yves Saint Laurent, Nu (1971), picture by Jeanloup Sieff – Pictures from http://www.yslretrospective.com/

“One can make an entire trip through a wardrobe. The most sumptuous imaginary travel”. Yves Saint Laurent (1993).

In the exhibition, a whole room is dedicated to garments inspired by a faraway world. “I practice my imaginary on places that I do not know. I hate traveling. For example, if I read a book about India or Egypt, with pictures, my imaginary drives me. It is where I have the best time traveling.” Yves Saint Laurent (1986).

Bullfighter outfit (1979) – Pictures from http://www.yslretrospective.com/

Evening outfit (1976) – Pictures from http://www.yslretrospective.com/

Evening Bambara gown (1967) – Pictures from http://www.yslretrospective.com/

The most imposing room gathers evening gowns as an attempt to throw a last ball.

Evening outfit, coat and dress (2001) – Pictures from http://www.yslretrospective.com/

The exhibition ends with some of the most spectacular tuxedos created by YSL.

Pant-tuxedo (1966) – Pictures from http://www.yslretrospective.com/

This exhibition is definitely worth a few hours. Everyone can be touched by the originality and singular details, the high-quality craftsmanship, the story-telling of fifty years in women life.

YSL in his studio at 5 Avenue Marceau (1986) – Pictures from http://www.yslretrospective.com/

Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective until August 29th 2010 in the Petit Palais in Paris, France. More information on http://www.yslretrospective.com/

Lisa Foster is one of the several entrepreneurs that I managed to meet through Northeastern University.

As a college and high-school English professor, Foster had never imagined that she will be an entrepreneur one day. But then, she left the U.S. to live in Australia with her familly for six month. Early after her arrival, she went grocery shopping and at the cashier, she was asked if she wanted a bag. Hum hum… It was in 2005 and at that time, nobody in the U.S. would imagine leaving a store without a plastic/paper bag. Well, Lisa did what the other Australian shoppers had done already, she bought a few reusable bags made of textile materials. This trip to Australia raised Lisa’s awareness about the damages of paper/plastic bags and showed that actual solutions do exist.

Like many other new entrepreneurs before her, Lisa came back to her country  with an idea inspired from abroad. Still, it was clearly difficult to find the required partners to manufacture and sell reusable bags in the U.S. I am convinced that this reality faces every entrepreneur that tries to create a new market. So Lisa partnered with the same manufacturer that build the Australian bags and took care of the distribution in the U.S. herself.

It took approximately one year to build up the operations and then, Lisa decided to dedicate her skills full-time to her business and dream. 

So far, 1 Bag at a Time has sold 10 million reusable bags within the U.S.

During our interview, Lisa mentionned that her bags are manufactured in China in factories where she clearly put a point on working conditions. No child are working on the factory and people from the same familly are kept together. A minimum wage is guaranteed and no penalties are taken out of the salary (salary penalties are extremely frequent in China e.g. someone who did not clean his work space may loose 5% of his daily wage). Instead of punishing people that do not work fast enough, incentives are created to encourage productivity. Over the years, only the best people come back after the Chinese New Year Break. Manufacturing the bags in China is a bit controversial to me because the transportation environmental footprint is not negligible but I am not sure either about where our plastic/paper bags are manufactured. 

This interview with Lisa pointed out great things from an entrepreneurial standpoint:

– Entrepreneur should believe in their ideas and find a way to make them work. Remember that it takes time to create a market.

Keep your eyes open. Great ideas are everywhere and traveling is surely a great way to get inspired from other habits and behaviors.

It is not easy. Lisa pointed out how difficult it is to run a company full-time and then keep the familly running on evenings and week-ends. But it is possible.

Get inspired!

On the list of the top things to do in Boston this Spring, don’t miss Donna Rosenthal’s exhibition at Judi Rotenberg Gallery on Newbury Street.

Rosenthal’s mini garments (mostly dresses but including men’s suits) are made of paper or knitted metallic wires.

Working with paper, Rosenthal cleverly uses the prints and the colors of the actual material to create those uncommon outfits.

Working with metallic thread, Rosenthal knits or wraps the material to build the shape of those airy fancy mini dresses.

The exhibition takes place until April 24 and is open to the public. If you go, let us know what you think!

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