I have been an avid reader on this and other style forums for the past couple months and finally decided to throw in my two cents on the effect of marketing in fashion. Marketing is costly to companies and this cost has to pass along to the consumers who are buying their product. Trust me, these costs do not come out of the paycheck of these senior executives of these companies. I will use Nike as my first example here. Nike is a very marketing savvy company who will spent millions if not billions of dollars on getting endorsement of its product from some of most renowned athletics of the world (i.e. Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Tiger Woods.....). An average consumer will race to one of the nearest department stores and purchase one of the latest Nike offering after seeing one of his superstars wearing some sorts of Nike products. His rationale behind this purchase would be something in the line of if his idols is wearing Nike, then it must be a good/cool product. What that average consumer fails to realize is that LeBron, Tiger etc get pay millions of dollars wearing these products, not necessary because they like what they are wearing, but because they get paid big bucks to wear them. And we the consumers will have to pay for this hefty marketing cost. Since I am much poorer than these superstars, I chose not to subsidize their lavish living style and thus not buying any of the Nike products. What about Armani, Versace, Prada, Gucci etc? These are also heavily marketing infested companies. The runway shows (twice a year) cost these companies millions of dollars. Their aggressive advertisement in GQ, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Vogue is also a major financial burden for these companies. Their cost of getting Julia Robers, Brad Pitt to slip on one of their product at the annual Oscar is always phenomenally high. To top of off, since these designers have absolutely very little knowledge on how to make their products (i.e. Suits, Sportswear, Shoes etc), they have to outsource to someone who actually do know the ins and outs of making these products. Armani for the longest time hires Vestimenta to make its black label suits. Versace hires Zegna to make its suits. Ralph Lauren is currently asking St. Andrew to make its Purple Label suits. Let us compare the cost for a minute: a Black Label Armani suit for men would start at around $3,000 vs. $1250 for a Vestimenta suit, a Ralph Lauren Purple Label suit should start at about $3,500 vs. $2,200 for a St. Andrew suit. The difference in price is very significant. Heavy marketing cost of the designer labels, logistic cost of having someone else makes its product and of course the cost of wearing the designer label. Since I have not won the lottery yet, I refuse to pay for such cost. But my average consumer in the luxury market obviously disagrees with me. They adore these designer labels, looking at the latest Departure magazine's survey result, it is quiet pathetic that Armani is named the best sports coat for men by all its readers. I was somewhat surprise by the result for I have always considered average Departure magazine readers to be far more sophisticated than those at GQ, Esquire. Departure has been really good in introducing its readers to some of the truly worthy products (i.e. Attolini, Avon Celli, Kiton, etc). My guess is such education process could not possibly overcome the effect of heavy marketing. Marketing sucks.
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9/2/04 at 7:35pm