American fashion brands are finally coming for the high-end luxury market

The United States has contributed to the world’s fashion lexicon with casual items such as blue jeans, baseball caps and polo shirts, but fashion’s top tier remains the domain of Europe.

However, Estée Lauder’s acquisition of Tom Ford (a super-premium-priced American company) in November may signal a change in the world’s perception of American brands. After garnering a valuation of $2.8 billion, the company has secured a spot on the luxury power table.

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That’s because Ford’s products are considered expensive compared to other global luxury brands. and Miss Dior Fragrance ($72) for a similarly sized bottle. Tom Ford suits start at around $5,000, not as expensive as Keaton’s., It can do five digits, but it’s more expensive than suits from Dior and Zegna, which start at around $3,000.

This is not the usual positioning of typical American fashion and beauty companies that tend to aim for affordability like Coach and Kate Spade.

Europe dominates the top end of fashion

While France and Italy hold a large share of the world’s top luxury brands, America’s fashion and beauty wealth has historically been dominated by mass retailers such as Gap and Nike, sports apparel, and affordable luxury goods. made in categories such as , and Calvin Klein.

There are also prominent US gown designers Oscar de la Renta and Vera Wang, but these brands have never reached the size or influence of business juggernauts like Chanel and Dior.


One reason is that the United States as a nation was formed without a formal aristocracy. Carla Martin, Deloitte’s fashion apparel and footwear leader, explains that European monarchies are the birthplace of luxury.

“If you think about Burberry in London, they started with commissions to the Queen. We need it,” says Martin. She said the business was both nationalistic and exclusive. “We are a young country of immigrants, with people not allowed to be in business.”

There is also a certain timelessness. Rather than dramatically changing the look each season, Chanel and Louis Vuitton are reinterpreting his already familiar house codes. That’s partly why Kering parted ways with designer Alessandro Michele in November after he held him in the top creative post for seven years. Despite the revitalization, sales were stagnant and his designs were trendy and ephemeral.

Martin points out that the real test of a luxury brand is whether it can stand on its own apart from its founder designer. It has produced designers, and although their work is not cheap, it is classified as designer fashion rather than Grand Maison.

“It’s just that designer’s aesthetic, and when that designer is gone, it’s hard to keep up. On the other hand, if you think about Dior, you’ve had a lot of success with a lot of designers other than Christian Dior. It’s the House of Chanel versus the Japanese designers Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren, and the extra 100 years of history is important,” says Martin.

Americans are particularly good at beauty and underwear

However, Americans have proven themselves in areas such as luxury cosmetics. For example, Tom Ford is known more for his scent and beauty than his fashion lines.

Even at extravagant prices, beauty still remains relatively affordable and is in many ways better suited to American innovation. , stems from one estate: Estee Lauder. After selling Tom his Ford, the founder designer also owes the company billionaire status.

Another category of Americans has a firm handle: underwear. Sarah Blakely became the youngest self-made millionaire at her shapewear company, Spanx. Kim Kardashian has also found a lucrative niche with her skimline.


Gradual maturation of American fashion

Tom Ford isn’t the only one climbing the luxury ladder. Capri Holdings, the parent company of American outfits Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo, is looking to acquire another European luxury brand after successfully buying Versace in 2017.

When dealing with Versace, there were concerns about cultural clashes between the American group and the European brand. But Capri has been raising the prices of all its brands to boost its positioning, and the Versace integration is going well.Capri is targeting his $2 billion sales with the Italian label, and analysts say the entire group are more positive about their outlook for

Meanwhile, China has also produced some ambitious companies, but Fung Group, Shandong Ruyi and most recently Lanvin Group have all delivered disappointing results. The latter recently went public via SPAC, but the majority of investors in the special-purpose acquisition company have withdrawn from the merger. Lanvin Group stock is trading at $10 a share, about half of its opening price.

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