你對Louis Vuitton感到厭倦了嗎?

January 10, 2010

上個世紀末在全球化和新媒體的推波助瀾下、
加上過去數百年看似被歐洲大陸壟斷的財富和資源在兩次大戰後的重新分配
讓一度只把自己的目標顧客群鎖定在歐洲和北美洲上流社會的頂級精品品牌開始重新調整行銷策略
試圖在將戰線延長到陌生海外市場的全新戰役中拔得頭籌

旗下擁有Louis Vuitton、Fendi 、Chaumet和Loewe的LVMH、
將持有Yves Saint Laurent、Balenciaga、Bottega Veneta的Gucci集團納入麾下的PPR、
以及出身瑞士、幾乎可說是壟斷高級珠寶和鐘錶銷售的Richmont
除了是少數幾個在這場精品戰爭中生存下來的倖存者外、結合旗下眾多品牌影響力的他們更成了左右世界流行的trendsetters
不過在這段精品品牌紛紛被掌控大量資源的集團收購、其存在目的不再只是滿足少數金字塔頂端的消費群、
反而是在數量上成等比級數增加的中產階級顧客時
以追求利潤為最終目的的品牌經營方針 (或者該說是"求生守則") 讓許多精品品牌承受來自其母集團的壓力、
為了降低製作成本而被迫搬移工作坊或是選擇次級材料來達到目的
這不僅讓部分品牌在過去幾年間飽受爭議外、更讓人不勝唏噓的是也因此讓許多一代設計巨匠選擇退出...
理想和現實的無可彌補差異除了在去年發表的VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR紀錄片中多有著墨、
和Patrizio Bertelli理念不合而兩度選擇退休的Jil Sander更是令人惋惜

"團結力量大"的精品集團憑藉無孔不入的新媒體對被重新定位過的潛在顧客群進行全面性洗腦攻勢
Louis Vuitton成了所有時尚男女企圖踏足精品領域的敲門磚、
Tom Ford和Hedi Slimane成了比起Brad Pitt和George Clooney也不惶多讓的超級巨星、
Speedy, Neverfull, Motorcycle, City, Gauffre, Muse, Downtown, Paddington, Edith, 2.55, Cambon, Nappa Aire, Bianca Satchel, Spy, Lady Dior, Deville, Alexa, PS1...
更成了所有以時尚敏感度高而自豪的朋友們耳熟能詳、甚至如數家珍的"時尚摩斯密碼"

不過當想藉由自己的敏銳時尚嗅覺來突顯自己和他人的差異性、
但卻發現自己搶先一步上手的所謂IT Bag反倒成了大多數不知如何下手購買的"普羅大眾"的購物指南、
更成了不肖商人仿製清單中的熱門包款時
放棄這些被過度炒作的品牌、尋找尚未被開發的藍海、
就成了許多重度時尚玩家持續不斷追尋的聖杯

當Carrie Bradshaw腳底下那雙Manolo Blahnik不再那麼"exclusive"時
有著火紅鞋底的Christian Louboutin就成了女人一生中一定要擁有的"那雙鞋"...

矛盾的是
經過這些時尚玩家追捧的品牌
肯定很快就成了幾大集團眼中放掉可惜的金雞母
高價收購後套入所謂"成功行銷方程式"的結果
恐怕又會重演曾在被PRADA收購後的Jil Sander上演的悲劇...

這也難怪投身服裝設計已經超過半世紀的Karl Lagerfeld在表達對被視為品牌印鈔機的手袋設計感到厭倦、
對世人習慣用股票價值來評斷品牌成功與否的依據感到失望、對經典老牌被"強迫復興"的現象感到寒心的同時
在2003年接受紐約時報訪問時作出精品市場的未來將寄望在
"very private brands that aren't arranged to please everybody but are more a reflection of personal taste" 的預測...

或許說是"預測"還不如說是"期望"(奢望?)來的更貼近事實些...

不過下面這篇在兩個月前刊登於紐約時報、一直被我刻意收藏等待適當時機分享的文章中所透露的訊息
(所謂的適當時機...就是等到生性懶惰的我有動筆寫"引言"的決心、並終於擁有作為文章主題的該品牌皮件...)
也許就正是Karl Lagerfeld在六年多前的預測終於有機會實現的契機...

當Jean-Michel Signoles在30多年前意外於古董店中買到一個他以為早已成為歷史的品牌所製作的行李箱、
該事件不但引發了他在接下來幾十年持續收集該品牌產品的動機、
他甚至在10年前靠著鍥而不舍的努力說服了該品牌創立家族將這個有著150多年歷史的轉賣給他

這個品牌就正是Karl Lagerfeld的愛用品牌La Maison Goyard...

不同於其他陸陸續續被精品集團收購的品牌
沒有集團財力在背後撐腰、完全憑藉著自己對Goyard的熱愛想讓這個百年老店能繼續經營下去、
Signoles不打廣告、不大規模展店、採家族式經營、不在網路上販售、甚至連完整商品型錄都不提供網路瀏覽的做法
完全和其他在過去十年叱吒風雲的精品品牌銷售手法背道而馳

對於外界針對其相對保守的經營策略的質疑
到現在還常在跳蚤市場尋寶的Signoles是這麼說的..."I am taking my time and having fun"


BREATHING NEW LIFE INTO AN OLD BRAND

By NAZANIN LANKARANI
Published: The New York Times / November 24, 2009


The flea market at Port-de-Lanne, about an hour east of Biarritz, bustles with antique and second-hand dealers gathered from across Europe in this picturesque village in Southwestern France for the annual Grand Déballage, or Great Unpacking.

Here, serious antique hunters arrive early in the morning eager to rummage through miles of outdoor, treasure-laden makeshift stands.

Jean-Michel Signoles carefully examines a stack of vintage suitcases with a connoisseur’s eye, just as he did back in 1974, when he fell upon his first trunk signed Goyard, igniting a spark that led to an interest in collecting the brand, and eventually to buying the whole company.

“When I found my first Goyard piece, I was unaware of the company’s existence. I learned later that there was still a boutique on the Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris,” said Mr. Signoles.

Established in 1853, the Maison Goyard was a family-owned luggage-maker that had, since the turn of the last century, catered to the international traveling set, consistently receiving the highest honors of workmanship in World Fairs and International Expositions.

“Goyard was a luggage purveyor to the Czars and the British Crown. The brand had also seduced wealthy Americans, like John D. Rockefeller,” Mr. Signoles said. By the 1990s, however, the brand had fallen into near-oblivion, its ateliers closed and its business struggling.

“I coveted this company for 20 years. I bought all of its records, traced back its registered models, and got to know the dealers who sold Goyard items. I knew this company well,” he said.

It was in the mid 1990s that he first contacted the company’s owners, only to spend more years persuading them to sell.

“Goyard was a sleeping beauty,” said Mr. Signoles. Sales were scarcely ticking over.

“When I bought the company in 1998, it was barely making €500,000 a year, with one salesman in the store,” he said. “Its owner, a fifth generation, was married to an idle French aristocrat. Every year, they would inject money into the company to cover losses.”

For the past 11 years, Mr. Signoles has worked to revive the company and restore the Goyard brand, in his own measured and deliberate manner, to its former glory.

“Today, Goyard is still a family-owned business,” said Mr. Signoles, whose two sons are now part of the enterprise. “We are completely independent. There is no bank, investment fund or big luxury group behind us.”

To breathe new life into the brand, without altering its traditional look and quality of workmanship, Mr. Signoles set up a new workshop in his native Carcassonne, in southwest France. He introduced new shapes and vibrant colors to the classic leather and coated-fabric material bearing Goyard’s distinctive Y-shaped, hand-stamped chevron pattern, and updated the line of wooden-framed trunks and carrying cases with nickel and brass hardware.

Today, the company is once again a staple of exclusive luxury, catering to discriminating clients with a preference for the one-of-a-kind, custom-made piece.

“The true ‘special order’ is a completely personalized piece with specific dimensions that we design for the client’s special purpose, like a case to hold wine glasses, a folding bicycle or a wardrobe,” said Laurence Grima, a company manager who acts as the liaison for the company’s developing network of boutiques and department store outlets in major cities worldwide.

The Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse owns a specially designed Goyard trunk to store cutlery that he uses for catered dinners and private demonstrations.

The Connaught Hotel in the fashionable Mayfair district of London, which recently completed a £70 million, or $116 million, restoration has ordered 20 monogrammed Goyard wardrobes for the long-term residents of its exclusive suites.

“We can also customize an existing model,” Ms. Grima said. Mostly, clients ask to have their Goyard bags or luggage emblazoned with initials and colorful stripes.

Though Goyard’s lightweight Saint Louis is a shoulder bag of choice for chic women of any age, the surprise hit of the year is a revisited version of a small pet-carrying bag that the company introduced a year ago.

“We have been testing the ‘cat-bag’ for a year, tweaking it a little each month. The original model existed in our archives. At first, we were selling very few. Now we are up to six per day,” Mr. Signoles said.

The cat-bag, which comes in two sizes - the smaller priced at €950 or $1,400, and the larger at €1,250 - forms part of a pet accessories range sold in a specialty boutique, Le Chic du Chien, that Goyard opened last year opposite its flagship Rue Saint Honoré store.

To maintain quality standards and also to fulfill its owner’s need for independence, Goyard’s production is and will remain French-based.

“We do not want to depend on foreign suppliers, be subject to their rates and their delivery schedules. We work only with domestic companies, some large, some very small,” said Mr. Signoles.

“Today very few companies like ours produce entirely in France. Most French luxury brands have moved at least 50 percent of their production to Asia,” he added.

In the last decade, Mr. Signoles has faced the challenge of reconciling a strategy of organic development with global expansion while maintaining the exclusivity of the brand.

In August, Goyard opened its first London boutique in Mayfair, followed by a branch in Osaka, Japan, in September. It already had stores or outlets in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Beverly Hills, São Paulo, Seoul, Tokyo and Kyoto.

Mr. Signoles, now 62, said he had been contemplating retirement from the fashion industry before he acquired Goyard, but he shows no sign of intending, for now, to step away from his hands-on, highly personal relationship with the business.

“Jean-Michel frequently answers the service door in his work apron - which is required of all back office employees,” said Ms. Grima. “Vendors at the door ask him to call the boss.”

Despite the success of his company, Mr. Signoles cultivates a Goyard image of extreme discretion - the self-effacement of aristocracy and old money.

“We do not advertise. We will not show our models on our Web site or in a catalogue. To see our full line, clients come to our store in Paris. It has been that way since 1853,” he said.

To friends who question his methods and his deliberately slow growth strategy, he has a simple response. “I am taking my time and having fun,” Mr. Signoles said, returning to his leisurely stroll around the flea market.




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2 意見

  1. annGAJ3:13 AM

    看來你真的很高興買到那個Goyard的皮夾
    居然能洋洋灑灑寫這摸大一篇@@

    版主回覆:(01/15/2010 11:39:35 PM)


    哈哈...其實也不全是因為這個原因啦...

    只是之前看到這篇文章時覺得頗有趣
    不過一直找不到適當的時機分享...也沒啥動手寫引言的動力
    昨天下午整理自己的資料夾時發現已經放了一個多月
    再不分享的話搞不好Signoles對Goyard的經營方針又有改變、那這篇文章就只能進資源回收筒了...Orz

    ReplyDelete
  2. 來拜訪囉~部落格很棒^^~幫你推個文

    ReplyDelete

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