Over the last few years, many brands have been "resurrected." It happened to Dior thanks to John Galliano, and now with Raf Simons, to Balenciaga with Nicolas Ghesquière, to Givenchy with Riccardo Tisci, to Lanvin with Alber Elbaz and to Céline, after countless unfortunate vicissitudes, with Phoebe Philo.
Many brands have made it, while others have had at their helm a succession of head designers, and often even of owners, without finding peace.
The relaunch of a brand is not a simple operation, which depends on the designer, of course, but also on the management and most of all on the placement. Just think of Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld, a duo that has been working together since the '80s and that is still successful today. In most cases choosing a famous designer is not enough, as it is fundamental to have clear ideas about the target market and the clientele and, consequently, about image and communication choices, besides the stores and distribution.
Relaunching a brand is often more complicated than creating a new one, but if the operation is successful the brand will have a heritage to draw on and a successful present. We are often disappointed when we look at the badly-crafted replicas of past garments that cause an even more confusing present!
Talking about success, I am not only referring to fashion designers, but to product brands such as Céline and Moncler, which celebrates its 60th anniversary today.
The history of Moncler is an example of how a brand was created, became successful, died out and was later resurrected.
Moncler was founded in 1952 by René Ramillon who had previously produced mountain clothing and who, during WW2, had supplied clothing to French partisan brigades Chantiers de Jeunesse. The name Moncler is the abbreviation of Monestier-de-Clermont. Already in 1968 it was a leading brand, known for its technical qualities, so much that it became, during the Winter Olympics held in Grenoble, the official supplier of the downhill skiing French national team.
In the '80s it became a symbol of the young "Paninari" subculture. The movement was born in Milan and spread throughout Italy and also to some foreign countries. Brand-obsession was a feature of the Paninari who wanted to "consume and have fun." Replicas were strictly forbidden. A widespread trend with the young that was also the expression of social and political transition. Yet labels were the key component of clothing. At the time, the Moncler duvet jacket became a must-have piece. The garment enjoyed a moment of huge popularity until the movement spontaneously died out in 1987/'88 alongside with all the garments and labels that had represented that specific moment. The duvet jacket ceased being a status symbol but was still used by skiers, who had never stopped wearing it as it was warm and comfortable, without acclaiming it the way the young had done as their "identification symbol."
For years nobody talked about Moncler until, following various vicissitudes, in 2003 the brand was acquired by Italian entrepreneur Remo Ruffini. In 10 years Moncler grew remarkably and is now one of the most successful brands on the market. Of the international market. The brand's strength also lies in having developed, alongside the classic duvet jacket line, two "haute couture" lines: Gamme Bleu for men, designed by Tom Browne, and Gamme Rouge, for women, designed by Giambattista Valli. The collaboration with leading designers, besides the ones mentioned above, like Fendi and Comme des Garçons, and with world-known artists -- without mentioning the campaign shot by Bruce Weber, a true communication masterpieces -- have provided the brand with an added value that turned it into an upscale label, and not just a fleeting trend.
This is true success. Not being only the trend du jour, like it happened during the '80s, but becoming an established product, a symbol of quality and creativity.
I chose to talk about the brand today because the anniversary will be celebrated in Miami within Art Basel. And I told you about it because once in a while we should feel proud that the resurrection of a French brand is "conceived" by an Italian, at a time when many Italian brands are being acquired by the French! Dommage! But, in any case... Happy birthday, Moncler!