I have been looking at collections from the recent shows, and have been left wondering about brand identity. The revolving door of designers heading up the big, luxury brands has been turning steadily in recent years, and generally, each time the creative director changes, a brand is reinvented in the new designers image.
As a designer I appreciate that we all have our own handwriting and an aesthetic that makes our work our own. However I just wonder, what is a brand if it doesn’t have it’s own identity?
Times change, in fashion as in life, and no one can stand by doing the same thing indefinitely. You would be left behind. Brands hit road blocks. There will be times they are underperforming or when it just isn’t working anymore, so I can see that sometimes a complete overhaul is needed. Take Christopher Bailey at Burberry for example. He took the essence of the brands history and reinvented it into something contemporary and desirable, completely revitalising the company.
But more often I see designers taking over recognised brands and presenting their first collection which is completely at odds with the existing identity of the brand. This seems a very big risk to me. If everyone loves the change and it’s a success, that’s great, but they risk alienating their existing followers. In my opinion the greatest success was Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli taking over from Valentino when he stepped down from the creative directors role. Of course it was more natural for them, coming from within the brand. They reinvented the product but in a way that felt completely right for the existing Valentino customer, while opening it up to a new audience.
It seems to me that if a brand is going to change, it makes sense to create something new, while holding onto a element of its core identity. So as the years go by and the designers change, there is a thread running through the collections that make them recognisable as telling the same story, even if this evolves.
Maybe I’m wrong. Fashion is all about personal taste and everyone has their own opinion. There is no right and wrong. I just know there are a couple of brands recently that I feel sad to have lost, but who knows what will turn up next? At least in this world of constant change we won’t get bored – there is always something new and beautiful around the next corner!