“What’s in a brand name?”
Recently the fashion industry was devastated by the passing of fashion designer Kate Spade. The story of her designs, line, and company is an amazing example of branding done right. Of hearing of her passing, many women said they felt like she was their friend, like they knew her personally because they were so connected with the products that carried her name.
Story of the Iconic Brand
At the time of her death, the brand ‘Kate Spade’ was owned by Coach, Inc., and the woman who was the creative powerhouse behind the development of the brand no longer had anything to do with it. Not only were the day-to-day operations of merchandising the brand controlled by Coach, Inc., the design responsibilities of the line had not been impacted by Kate herself since around 2006. By the time the line was growing in popularity, establishing itself as a significant brand in the accessory category, Kate herself was backing away from the amount of influence and control that she had over the line.
Oftentimes designers have great designs to bring to the market but lack the network or means to communicate their designs with customers. This is where selling the brand to a company that has established the network to communicate the vision will deliver the success that Kate Spade, Inc., experienced.
Business of Branding
Unless you shopped at exclusive stores that carried the initial line or lived in New York City around 1996 when the first Kate Spade store was opened, you likely weren’t aware of the brand. Once the brand was sold to Neiman Marcus in 1999 and then later to Liz Claiborne, Inc., in 2006, the vision of the design was able to be woven into the supply chain of the existing company, making the product more widely available. It’s this development into the existing network to reach customers that catapulted the success of the brand—a brand that customers felt so connected to as if they personally lost a friend. Connecting to an existing network is where newer designers find the greatest challenge and the conflict between the creative and business sides of the industry spark the greatest difficulty. Gaining an understanding of the business side of the fashion industry can serve the creative individual with resources to tap into a network to further their vision.
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