Then and Now

A grow­ing num­ber of brands are mining their past and reis­su­ing iconic styles for women and men, cap­i­tal­iz­ing on a wave of nos­tal­gia and ad­dress­ing younger gen­er­a­tions with sure­fire hits. Here, Ver­sace’s iconic prints on the run­way circa 1991, and 2018.

WWD Digital Daily - - Front Page - BY SA­MAN­THA CONTI

LON­DON — Fash­ion is hav­ing a flash­back as re­tail­ers plun­der brands’ archives and lux­ury giants re­vi­tal­ize their great­est hits — the Fendi Baguette, the Dior Sad­dle Bag, the Prada flame and ba­nana prints, to name a few — and mine the past for fu­ture prof­its.

Ver­sace con­tin­ues to pump out pieces from its suc­cess­ful Trib­ute col­lec­tion, an ex­plo­sion of Nineties gold baroque prints and flashy hard­ware that de­buted in Mi­lan last year on su­per­mod­els in­clud­ing Cindy Craw­ford, Naomi Camp­bell, Carla Bruni and Clau­dia Schif­fer.

Prada’s flame print has been lick­ing its way across lim­ited-edi­tion tops and shoes, while Mr Porter re­vived the brand’s quirky bowl­ing shirts in April. The Hel­mut Lang brand is rein­tro­duc­ing repli­cas of the orig­i­nal jeans the de­signer pi­o­neered when he still helmed the brand, while Mai­son Alaïa is of­fer­ing reed­i­tions of de­signs from 1988, 1989 and 1993 on the brand’s web site.

Then there’s Marc Ja­cobs who, as re­ported, is this month set to de­liver a full-on grunge col­lec­tion for re­sort that harks back to his spring 1993 out­ing for Perry El­lis. Those sem­i­nal de­signs, which fa­mously got him and his part­ner Robert Duffy fired, ce­mented Ja­cobs’ po­si­tion as a mav­er­ick.Fine jew­elry and sneaker brands are get­ting in on the ac­tion, too: Last year, Cartier cre­ated a new it­er­a­tion of its 1984 Pan­thère watch on Net-a-porter, with the first one sell­ing out within two min­utes of the launch via What­sApp. In Au­gust, the new Pan­thère watch re­turned to Net per­ma­nently, along­side other Cartier stal­warts in­clud­ing the Tank, Bal­lon Bleu and Baig­noire.

Last month, Fila signed a life­time deal with NBA Hall of Fame player Grant Hill, who had pre­vi­ously been an am­bas­sador for the brand more than two decades ago. The com­pany has since un­veiled an ex­clu­sive line of prod­ucts in­spired by the ath­lete in­clud­ing two spe­cial-edi­tion footwear styles that nod to Hill’s re­cent Hall of Fame in­duc­tion as well as a line of track­suits, hood­ies, T-shirts and longsleeved shirts. Last year, Nike cel­e­brated the 45-year an­niver­sary of one of its icons, the Cortez run­ning shoe, with a va­ri­ety of projects such as hav­ing Nord­strom’s Olivia Kim put her own spin on the style.

Why now? There’s a young gen­er­a­tion of de­sign­ers and con­sumers that can’t re­sist look­ing back — wit­ness the re­vival of Eight­ies and Nineties streetwear and sneak­ers — and then there’s fash­ion’s obsession with spin­ning nar­ra­tives around prod­ucts. There’s also com­fort to be found in the clas­sics and in col­lec­tions that re­call bet­ter times.

Some brands don’t need to look back far to find suc­cess. Car­ry­over styles rep­re­sent 70 per­cent of Gucci’s sales across the board and across all age seg­ments, ac­cord­ing to Ker­ing’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Jean-Marc Du­plaix, just in case any­one was won­der­ing about the fount of the Gucci bil­lions.

Ken Down­ing, se­nior vice pres­i­dent and fash­ion di­rec­tor at Neiman Mar­cus, said there are mul­ti­ple rea­sons be­hind the surge in icons and clas­sics: Her­itage brands need to speak to a new gen­er­a­tion and younger names want to tell the world “I’m still here!” There’s also a big com­fort fac­tor in­volved for brands and con­sumers alike.

“With all of the global un­rest, peo­ple are think­ing ‘How far do we push the fu­ture?’ There is a kind­ness to these col­lec­tions and pieces. They of­fer a lovely se­cu­rity and com­fort level in un­cer­tain times,” Down­ing rea­soned.

Re­becca Robins, In­ter­brand’s global chief learn­ing and cul­ture of­fi­cer, also be­lieves that a sto­ried past is some­thing to shout about. “Whether these brands are 20 years old or 200 years old, there is some­thing in the lux­ury of time and the no­tion of icons be­ing built over time through reis­sue and con­stant rein­ven­tion. For Mil­len­ni­als, the ap­peal [in pur­chas­ing] lies in be­ing part of the foot­fall of his­tory. There are sto­ries, there’s a sense of be­ing con­nected to other gen­er­a­tions.”

Luca Solca, sec­tor head lux­ury goods at Ex­ane BNP Paribas, said se­cu­rity — and the prom­ise of steady rev­enue — is a mo­ti­va­tor be­hind the re­vivals. “I’d com­pare this trend to pro­duc­ers launch­ing a se­quel to a block­buster suc­cess, or mak­ing it into a se­ries: It re­duces risk. It’s not lazy, be­cause you need to make the icons rel­e­vant again and up­date them to the cur­rent zeit­geist. But it’s safer, and it re­in­forces the brand eq­uity and DNA.”

While the big brands may be bank­ing on old styles, they’re pro­mot­ing them with new — and aggressive — in­flu­encer, so­cial me­dia and brand cam­paigns.

Ac­cord­ing to a Launch­metrics study for WWD, there was al­most no dis­cus­sion of the Dior Sad­dle bag un­til it de­buted at the French house’s fall 2018 show last Fe­bru­ary. At that time, the me­dia im­pact value — the value of place­ments on all chan­nels in­clud­ing paid, owned, earned me­dia — reached $600,000. On July 19, fol­low­ing an in­flu­encer cam­paign as the bags landed on­line, that MIV fig­ure spiked to $6 mil­lion.

In the year to Oct. 31, the Sad­dle bag notched $24.5 mil­lion in MIV, while the Gucci Diony­sus, an ev­er­green, recorded $8.3 mil­lion. The Fendi Baguette hit $1.7 mil­lion, al­though that Ital­ian icon only just made its lat­est come­back on the spring 2019 cat­walk in Septem­ber.

Sil­via Ven­turini Fendi said the up­dated Baguette, which is big­ger than its pre­de­ces­sor and has long and short re­mov­able straps, is the re­sult of broader think­ing about the brand’s his­tory and its fu­ture.

“This year is 10 years of the Peek­a­boo, but it is not just rein­vent­ing the Peek­a­boo, it is also rein­vent­ing the Baguette. It’s re­ally talk­ing about icons. I think it’s nice to have both of them on the cat­walk, be­cause one is the op­po­site of the other, but the DNA of Fendi is there, shown on both.” She said this new baguette in par­tic­u­lar is “meant to stay with you all your life, so ac­cord­ing to your mood, you can change the func­tion.”

Down­ing, who’s been watch­ing the Ver­sace Trib­ute col­lec­tion fly off Neiman’s racks and shelves, from the printed tights and shirts to the medal­lion buckle booties and leather cross-body bags, said nos­tal­gia pieces add value and speak to the stay­ing power of old and new brands alike.

Mary Ka­trant­zou has been mark­ing her 10th an­niver­sary in a va­ri­ety of ways this year and has put to­gether a col­lec­tion of her fa­vorite ar­chive looks with Match­es­fash­ion.com.

“At a time when the re­volv­ing door is get­ting swifter and quicker, do­ing an an­niver­sary col­lec­tion is a chance for younger brands to say ‘I’ve been here for 10 years, for 15 years!’ It’s proof they can sus­tain a busi­ness in an ever-chang­ing in­dus­try,” Down­ing said.

Ka­trant­zou said 10 years in busi­ness is also the right time to start bring­ing new customers into the fold. “You don’t re­al­ize it, and you think you are speak­ing to the same woman, but it is not the case. After 10 years, you are also talk­ing to a new gen­er­a­tion, a cus­tomer who, per­haps, ►

Ver­sace, spring 1992.Ver­sace, spring 2018.

NOW: Chris­tian Dior, spring 2019.NOW: Hel­mut Lang, fall 2003.

THEN: Chris­tian Dior, spring 2000.

THEN: Hel­mut Lang reed­i­tion.

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