Ghesquière spent a total of 15 years at Balenciaga, a once ailing womenswear house which he transformed into one of the most forward-thinking luxury brands in the world (and the most exclusive and sought-after ticket at Paris Fashion Week). Ghesquière was known for his deep and complex vision, sculptural tailoring and use of ultra-modern fabrics. The designer broke up with Balenciaga one year ago, after a dispute with management over the direction of the house. He had all but disappeared off the fashion radar until today’s announcement.
So what does this mean for the brand? Well, for starters this could be a sign that they plan to shake things up and try to inject a little more sass and edge into the brand. in recent years, sales have slowed as consumers has grown tired of the "in your face" LV logos, in part, due to the rampant counterfeiting of the brand's accessories. The change is also a great move from a PR perspective as the Louis Vuitton Fall 2014 collection runway show will now be the most highly anticipated show at fashion week. If the Louis PR and marketing team is smart, they will capitalize on all of this inevitable buss with a huge social media campaign and perhaps even a contest where a mere mortal can win a coveted ticket to the show. They should create a set of hashtags now for the discussion on the speculation #LVMHnewdawn #LVnewdawn #LVnewleader and release some teaser sketches and interviews to key media outlets as "exclusives."
A change in creative direction for a brand is always an opportunity to garner press and buzz for the brand and there are lessons from Louis Vuitton's changing of the guard that smaller brands can take into account. Building a fashion brand requires the ability to be flexible and change with the trends and the needs of the consumer whiles staying true to your own core identity. We recently worked with a new boxer brands that had a bit of an identity crisis. The designer had great ideas, but could seem to strike the right balance between her own aesthetic and consumer trends. We provided in-depth consulting and coaching to help her define her consumer. Once the designer began describing the customers who purchase her products, we realized these customers would love to see a collection that is more niche, more in tune with the designers own preppy aesthetic. We urged her to use more unique fabrics and embrace the other branding elements she had created such as a theme in naming the styles. The silhouettes and fabrics should match the branding and she needed a logo that had a stronger brand identity. Over the last few months these changes have been underway. We recently saw the newest collection and it is the perfect balance. The moral of the story: when a brand has an identity crisis of any kind, this is an opportunity to develop a marketing strategy to capitalize on changes made.