Harmonie's Look on Fashion

Posts Tagged ‘Ready-to-wear

Last week was the winter edition of The Brandery, a professional trade show for urban brands based in Barcelona. During three days, the 147 brands featured were presenting their new collections for A/W 2011-12.

Recinto de Montjuïc, Palacio 8

Final for American Vintage catwalk.

One of the most awaited show, was the international launch of Custo Line, the new more affordable line from Custo Barcelona. This line keeps the overall aesthetics of Custo Barcelona while offering colorful looks for a younger target segment.




This collection is the first from Custo to ever include jeans. But not your regular pair of jeans. At Custo, jeans are printed or dyed with specific treatments to ensure a special effect. The collection also focus on miniskirts, leggings and printed loose-fitting tee-shirts.

Once again, flashy colors are a key point in the collection but the new palette also includes some soft neutral tones. Main materials are cotton, polyester and viscose.

If you want to see more, watch the video of the show.

How do you like this new line? Would you wear it?

I will be back soon with other interesting brands! Stay tuned!


If I have to mention the name of one favorite French fashion designer it will be Christian Lacroix. I absolutely love his work, his universe as well as the colors and materials he uses. Born in 1951, Lacroix opened his Couture house in 1987 and began a ready-to-wear line one year later.

A/W 2002-2003 Collection – http://www.linternaute.com/femmes/luxe/0706-lacroix/4.shtml

A/W 2008-2009 Collection – http://www.linternaute.com/femmes/luxe/haute-couture/selection/le-meilleur-des-collections-haute-couture-automne-hiver-2008-2009/christian-lacroix-cote-sombre.shtml

Throughout the years, he has been involved in many diffusion lines (perfume, children’s line, lingerie, bridal) and worked hand-in-hand with other brands to take part in the designing step. Remember the limited edition he created for Evian in 2008?

In 2005, Lacroix designed a new uniform for Air France 36,000 staff members.


In 2007, he redesigned the interior of the French high speed train TGV.

The same year, he also collaborated with the mail and online French retailer LA REDOUTE to present an exclusive collection.

From those examples, I think we can say that Christian Lacroix is designing for people, real people and wants his creations to be accessible to as many person as possible.

To me, it really makes sense that Lacroix and Desigual worked together on this 30-piece collection for automn/winter 2011-2012. I remember writing in this blog that Desigual was dressing personalities and that products are colorful, fun, optimistic… I feel like this could as well be Christian Lacroix’s motto. Both the brand and the designer are attracted by ethnicity and multiculturalism and I am sure that design ideas came fast in the work room when designing this collection. This collection runs under the name of “Dream” and the collaboration is supposed to continue for summer 2012 with a larger number of product involved.

For Desigual, this first ever collaboration brings fresh blood to its products. With the brand expanding really quickly, it was urgent to renew the appeal of the products and reinforce the garments’ offer.

For Christian Lacroix, this collaboration is another opportunity to have his vision turned into products. The Christian Lacroix company was put under a procedure of voluntary liquidation in 2009, the company has been bought in the meantime and now runs mostly through royalties from licenses. The designer himself is no longer part of the company.



I am sure you can recognize Lacroix’s esthetics into this new collection from Desigual! I am excited to actually see the garments soon!

Last thing, I have been invited as a blogger by The Brandery to visit their fashion trade show next week. I am thrilled and I am sure I will learn a lot. Of course, I will take tons of notes and pictures and I will share those with you! Stay tuned!

Crowdsourcing is a word used to define creative concepts and processes where people outside the company are in charge of the design of the products of a given company. The trend consulting company Nelly Rodi even mentioned Crowdsourcing as one of the main trend of 2010.

Let’s take the example of Threadless t-shirts, a company that use crowdsourcing to get designs to print on tee shirts but also totes, reusable water bottles and all kind of diverse products.

The concept of Threadless is to get designs from people everywhere in the world. Those designs are submitted to votes through their website and the best designs are printed on the company’s products.


1: Design submission.

They manage to make it very easy to submit a design. A template is provided as well as clear explanations of expectations, printing techniques available and reasons for decline. There is an appealing range of techniques that can be included in the design: glow-in-the-dark ink, suede ink, metallic ink, embroidery…

This is definitely exciting for every designers to be! Even if you don’t feel like designing a print, you can submit a slogan/title that may inspire a design and from which you could be remunerated too.

2: Design score.

Designs are reviewed by the Threadless team and then submitted to score by the Threadless community during 7 days. Best designs can be scored by more than 800 people and designs with lower than 2.5 out of 5 are not likely to be printed. Scores and comments help the Threadless team to choose which designs to print.

3: The printed designers are remunerated:

The designers whose ideas are selected will receive $2000 in cash + $500 in gift certificate + $500 each time the design is reprinted.





This is more or less the concept of Threadless Tshirts.

Now let’s see this implications of crowdsourcing on a creative and business standpoints.

On a creative standpoint, crowdsourcing is a way to get a huge pool of designs from everywhere in the world. Design is no longer taken care of by a single design department. It is quite easy to get infinite aesthetic standpoints and revitalization is continuous. The bigger the community, the higher the chance to attract talented designers that would submit awesome designs. Design selection is not only done by one of the company’s department but also by people from the community (potential tee shirt buyers) who will score and comment the design.

On a business standpoint, crowdsourcing enables a company to be sure that its products will sell well and therefore limit risks. Indeed you let your customers decide which products they want to buy from you! It could also be easier to plan quantities based on feedback from people in the community. Customer loyalty is enhanced since customer themselves can take part in the design/scoring phase. Lastly, this methodology is a less expensive and much more variable way of getting designs than having a whole design department working together all year long. The advantages of free-lance without having to rely on only a couple of free-lance designers.

As a general rule, letting customer participates in the design of its products is becoming more and more popular with the example of crowdsourcing but also new levels of customization as for instance with the company Shoes of Prey where customers can personalize their shoes on many different aspects. Customer participation is definitely a trend for 2011.

I am curious to see if anyone of you knows other examples of crowdsourcing or some insights to share about customer participation. Please leave a comment!

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)

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/

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