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Favouring the Underdog
There are some realities in the world that are kept from us by an illusory curtain, until the time comes to actually experience them first hand. As so many other things in life, fashion also plays a part in this universe of illusions, which is more apparent to some than others…
I won’t get too deep into the issue of branding, as by now it would be almost like preaching to the choir, but I’d like to write a brief reflection and bring forth some topics on why I favour smaller labels.
First and foremost, I hope enlightenment has come to you at some point that big names and reputation don’t necessarily translate into quality; unfortunately, in some cases, it’s quite the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, most fashion giants deserve their hardly-earned reputation. I’m a fan of some of them, but the truth remains that the values, legacy and heritage left by their founders are slowly being put to shame by an ever-growing urge for profit. Bear with me…Of course at the end of the day it all comes down to business, fashion represents massive revenues, but in my modest opinion, business can be run in several ways.
Working in the industry for some time now, has opened my mind to the harsh realities behind major labels. For me, the biggest disappointment was witnessing how passion is lost throughout the years and profit alone dictates everything as newer generations and luxury groups take over. I wholeheartedly believe passion has to be part of the equation, in order to create a connection to consumers and actually produce something unique (that stands out for something other than a particular label). Common scenario…Imagine a brand that starts out set to deliver quality and attention to detail in each piece, sourcing the best fabrics and working with the best manufacturers (within its budget): say the original retail price is €100.
Lots of hype, global praise and several raving reviews later, it assumes a cult/exclusivity status, allowing it to increase prices to + €300 (not all manage to do it, but there are several successful examples out there). Although it’s stellar to achieve such an increase in margin and markup, let’s keep in mind they were already making money to begin with…So, one would think that the logic thing to do would be to make the most of this extra breathing space and try to upgrade your product, slowly and even if ever so slightly: better fabrics, materials, quality and craftsmanship, all while enjoying the recent found success of course.
Reality is quite different I’m afraid. Once that leap occurs and brands gain market recognition and dimension, the majority of them work exactly in the opposite way, pressuring manufacturers for lower prices often achieved at the cost of all of the aforementioned. As fashion becomes ultimately a question of numbers, where major brands are run by financial departments, it’s up to us as consumers, experts or aficionados, to actively make thoughtful choices and spend our hard-earned money where it’s actually worth it, instead of merely considering insignias or status.
Miguel Amaral Vieira
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