Fashion is a volatile business. Names and reputations come and go at the drop of a metaphorical hat. This has never been truer than during the time of economic instability that has defined the Western world in the twenty-first century, a period in which technology has also transformed the game and its rules. Asia (mainly, but not primarily, China) has emerged as a significant and rapidly developing market for the luxury goods sector, and COVID-19 has permanently transformed the typical high-street retail experience.
Of course, rise and fall in fashion has always occurred – after all, it’s what makes runway displays such reputation-makers and breakers. There is an inevitable Pier Cardin or, more lately, Marc Jacobs for every up-and-coming [Off-White or Coach].
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Managing the Highs and Lows
Of fact, unlike success, many fashion failures (particularly financial failures) are handled by the parent company. Alexander McQueen is one of fashion’s most forward-thinking names, but its financial losses are consolidated by holding firm Kering. Burberry, for example, was able to rethink, rebrand, and reach new heights in the mid-2000s. In conclusion, success (or failure) is not merely an issue of having a brilliant designer with a good vision but also of marketing, promotion, having the correct algorithm, and having the appropriate backing through good and bad times.
M and M
Michael Kors is not a brand that many people would associate with rising and falling fashion trends. Unlike the ‘other’ more well-known Valentino Garavani (MG – the brand of poppy red dress fame and continued catwalk success), Michael Kors bags has had to play bridesmaid for the more significant part of a quarter-century and is now precariously balanced in the hyper-competitive luxury industry.
Reputations in luxury and premium are shaky these days (Hugo Boss and Dolce&Gabbana are just two such names that have suffered as a result of terrible PR and intense social media scouring), and MK has generally suffered the fate of older brands without substantial holding company support.
Is it fair to criticize?
The demise of comparatively smaller corporations like MK is unsurprising, and the extra accusations leveled against its designs are not without merit. The main issue, according to Valentino Garavani, is one of misappropriation. Essentially, MV’s products can be confused with MG’s products, and MK [or, instead, Yarch Capital, who controls the brand] is bent on maintaining the illusion.
After all, the most flattering act is imitation. Of course, VG’s trademark Rockstud Bag is stylistically comparable to Givenchy’s Antigona bag. You may also question how much it counts – if someone comes into a shop thinking they’re getting a genuine, new MG bag for £200 or less, they probably don’t need (or deserve!) to know any different. If they are aware of the difference but still choose to pay £200, a fast online search will lead them to the thriving world of imitation bags.
Of all, with millions of dollars possibly at risk, someone needs to keep an eye on things like this. As a result, Michael Kors has been labeled a derivative of the premium brand, accused of leveraging the actual Valentino name and reputation to push it while also manufacturing things that are allegedly neither of high quality nor very creative. The issue is, how many of these charges are accurate in a fashion battle where fingernails and handbags are flying everywhere? More specifically, where does Michael Kors belong in the fashion canon, and is the brand’s current merchandise (primarily bags) any good? To find the solution, we must go back to the beginning.