Luxury Brands Fight Back

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If ‘stealth wealth’ is a new catch phrase for the luxury fashion market (a CNN doc here explains that high-end products are now incorporating inconspicuous references to the lavish, rather than being straightforward about it), then so is ‘heritage.’ High-fashion brands are attempting to highlight their lineage, from a Louis Vuitton line of wallets called ‘heritage, Prada’s recent 708-page book about its history, to Gucci’s planning to start a museum in Florence in 2011 for its 90th anniversary. “Consumers want something they can believe in, and heritage is the best anchor that luxury brands have,” says WWD.

As Cathy Horyn recently wrote when reviewing the men’s FW10 shows, “At a time when many aspects of contemporary life feel unreliable, heritage brands offer a degree of security.”

Is this a backlash to fast fashion? Quality of manufacturing and the lineage behind a brand’s name are the two things a label like Louis Vuitton or Gucci can hold over the H&Ms and Zaras of the world. And high-fashion brands are still arguably setting the trends, only for fast fashion outlets to then rip them off weeks later. Take for instance Nathalie Rykiel (daughter of Sonia) who recently divulged the fact that she teamed with H&M mainly because the Swedish chain was knocking off Sonia Rykiel’s designs. “They copy me all the time!,” Rykiel told Nylon. “Finally I said, ‘Look, if you want your girls to wear Sonia Rykiel from H&M, let’s let them have the real thing!’.” If you can’t beat ’em…