Next I headed to the home of Madame De Pompadour’s home, the mistress of Louis XIV; now home to the Wallace Collection which is a house which burst of Paris, from the huge staircase to the ‘Gold Room’, it not only developed my understanding of Vivienne Westwood’s inspirations for a lot of her designs, but it made me incredibly excited for Paris; which was exactly one month on Sunday! Around the Wallace exhibition is home to a lot of wealthy Londoners, which suits the exhibition perfectly.
Walking back along Oxford Street, we now walked the entire street of Bond Street; both old and new. This was one of the main sections of the whole day which really stood out to be, and made an impact on my understanding of the placement within the fashion clustering. Old Bond Street is full of luxury fashion houses, such as Tiffany, Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton. Like Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton has tried to create a unique experience for the customers, and another unique selling point to the brand. This store has been redesigned to feel like you, as the consumer, are inside a jewellery box! This strange idea, is actually incredibly effective, as the tall ceilings and the sectioned store allows the store to have something extra in comparison. However, there is one more important factor which I noticed about Bond Street, There is a large Chanel store opposite to Vuitton, however, there is now a Dior being built right next door to Chanel; this push of competitiveness is key to keeping up to date with what the other is planning, and will help both to develop and continue to cluster together to re-enforce their position amongst rivals.
Despite the wet and windy weather on Monday, I headed out at 9am to gain a true understanding on where shops are placed within central London; looking and individual brands and their key locations. How fashion brands create a visual presence on the hughstreet and the shopping districts; creating a strong and well developed awareness of the market level clusterings. In particular, I was focusing on Dior and the way the company had presented themselves to the audiences, and how they enticed their target market in competition with other big brands.
To start the exercise off, I started at Oxford Circus, making my way to Conduit St, which is where a lot of luxury brands are found – Vivienne Westwood, Donna Karan, Moschino, and most importantly Sketch – which is the original show room in London that Dior used to use; a lot of presence of the Dior company still lies there, and the feel of the brand is very much still present. Down this hughstreet is one of many Dior stores; this one predominately selling shoes and bags – which allowed me to explore the new Diorissimo bags for the first time. Then onto Saville Row – the home of tailoring in London, and where Henry Poole & Co and Norton & Sons can be found; all lined up offering something different with their tailoring. Each and every store looked sophisticated and well thought out – which is vital in that particular section of the fashion market. What was also very interesting is that I was able to watch a lot of adjustments and actual tailoring take place, as the lower level of the shop was visible from the street; letting the customers have a more personal experience with the individual store.
With this close knit shopping sector, there are many different classes of shops; Haute Couture all the way to Economy, which was very interesting to look at the precise grouping and classes and where each shop was placed within the market. Stella McCartney is several doors down from the famous Hartnell Gallery, which sat right next to Matthew Williamson; this close connection between the shops is a clear grouping of the Brand Diffusion market. The hierarchy of fashion is something that is taken very seriously, and walking along Bond Street, Mayfair, Oxford street and even Conduit Street, it is very easy to identify the target audience for that particular street – a very in-depth and personal shopping experience.
Economy fashion is fast moving fashion, but not all fast fashion is economical; meaning that some high end styles and catwalk looks can be sold on at a much cheaper price with economy fashion – such as Primark and H&M, they are constantly watching and keeping up to date with the fashion world, yet they aren’t in the same price bracket as the luxury brands. Economy fashion is for those who want an on trend garment at an affordable price, meaning full value for money is gained; it targets everyone, however within sub sections within stores they target different markets. Meaning that the entry price for this sector is £7, which is such a comparison to the 6 figure price tags found on certain Couture garments. The first sweatshop was apparent in the 20th century, after World War One, where there was such a large mechanical mass production for economical reasons, a lot of clothes were needed to be produced but at a much lower rate than previously – there was therefore a large gap int eh market for this. However, because it is such fast moving fashion, most garments make a ‘sell by date’ of 2 weeks, in comparison to months, if not years in the luxury and couture ranges.
The high street has avery direct core market, of those aged about 30 and older, this is due to the financial positioning and the choice of lifestyle that the customer has under taken, however age is a defining factor as the vast majority of theses brands are popular in the youth, however certain styles and pricing aims them more towards economy; this is due to the increase in fast fashion. Gap, Coast, Warehouse, Oasis and Monki are all examples of High street fashion houses. They are cheaper than designer clothing, but is a higher quality. It can sometimes not always be on trend but ever collection contains an element of cat walk. High street fashion ams about in the early 20th century, where woman commonly stayed at home with children, meaning that the average income dropped, as there was less income, meaning a more affordable and accessible market needed to be available. The entry price of garments therefore represents this, as it starts at around £10, which is for a basic white t-shirt. On the other hand, with such a high number of transactions being carried out online in the recent years, retailers with a strong web element now need just 70 high street stores to create a national presence compared to 250 shops about 15 years ago. This shows how quickly the market has changed and manipulated to fit the target markets needs and wants.
Brand Diffusion is a label which is a low-budget line, which is targeted at incurable label addicts who have the desire to shop at upper market labels but don’t have the money to to spend on the real designer brands. It sits below luxury fashion, but just above the high street, however, many do get mixed up with Brand Diffusion and high street. Labels such as DKNY, Miu Miu, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen and Moschino – this is therefore controlled by the professional body within the market, decided by the fashion houses, depending on the retail prices they want to set. For this section of the fashion market, the entry price ranges between £40 – £400 due to the specific brands, as they are commonly priced 30% less than the catwalk prices, which in turn makes the brands a lot more affordable for the target audience, and allows a sense of luxury and designer into our lives. Diffusion lines are bulk produced stock that sells a large variety of the original luxury brand’s stock, which can include fragrances, accessories and clothing, however this is distinguished by the fashion houses instead or the original brand as they don’t want to devalue their brand. Due to this, it attracts a younger market, and has enticed a new target audience, enamelling the younger generation to afford the more mature and higher end products and garments. This is therefore a positive thing as it enables a large client base, it diffuses the audience and makes certain products a lot more accessible for all. However, for the brand itself, it makes some people question the wholes brands quality – which can over time have a negative effect on their target market.
Bridge Brands sit above the high street, but below Luxury fashion, it is used as the bridge between the expensive market and the more moderate pricing. The term ‘Bridge Brands’ originates int he 70’s due to the gap in the market which quickly emerged as there was a large gap within the industry. Because of the link between the two, there is a larger target market due to the range in price; meaning that the market is very middle classed, and predominately women aged 30 onwards; very sophisticated fashion lovers who have an income to dispose of. The entry price for a bridge brand is around £50, which is a lot more realistic within the target audience, such shops as Ted Baker, Karen Millen, Joseph, L.K. Bennett and Heritage; these are upperclass designer shops, which are concentrated on their target audience. The brand Reiss have several stores across the UK, Ireland, Asia, USA and Malaysia, proving the desire and want for this market, as well as many bigger brands, such as Cos owning other smaller companies, which are either in the same market of the lower level, such as H&M.
Luxury brands offer a range of products which are priced just high enough so everyone can feel that they are a part of the elite fashion market, yet the pieces they’re paying are more affordable. The luxury brand has been around since the 19th Century, therefore it is new to the world of fashion. The luxury market is run by many different groups, LVMH, Kering and Richemont; these allow the groups to distinguish the level of luxury which the brand is offering. Unlike Couture, there is such a range in the entry level, that it really cant be distinguished; from brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Burberry and Hermes, there is such a range in their individual entry levels and prices. The target audience for luxury products is aimed at the younger generation to attract them into the market, however 76% of the buyers are aged 35-54, who can be found in social class A, which the majority will earn over 100,00o per year. Within the luxury market, China is the largest consumer of goods. On the other hand, 99% of Louis Vuitton’s products are fake throughout the world, meaning that at the end of the year, he burns all of the leftovers to make sure that the desire for his work doesn’t loose the luxury value to it.
Haute Couture is the King of the fashion world; it is the leading fashion house, with includes the most expensive sophisticated and off of pieces within the fashion industry. It is what is desired by all in the fashion world, each garments made to measure by hand, and rare fabrics and priceless embellishments are therefore added. This entails flawless, unique garments being produced. Some piece can take up to 700 hours to create in total, with over 2000 seamstresses working on one piece. Because these pieces are so incredible in creation, the entry level for a garment starts at £16,000 – which can range to 6 digit number. Due to this, there is a very direct and specific target audience as many are unable to fit into that price range. Couture originates from the King of couture, by Charles Frederick Worth, in the mid 19th century, as he wanted to make it possible for ladies to turn up at a ball or event, and not have the same dress as someone else, which is where the original idea came for Haute Couture. For a brand to become a couture house brand, it has to reach the requirements of ‘The French Ministry of Industry’. Nowadays, designers such as Christian Dior, Chanel, Jean-Paul Gautier and Valentino Guest. Also because couture has become so known about and desired, there are two catwalk shows now displaying the beautiful gowns so that not only the buyers can admire them, but people who have a strong interest in fashion too.