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  • Posted by: Dominiek Post on Thursday, May 15 2014 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

    Ugg Creative Council - woman with child

    In 1978, Brian Smith landed in Southern California with a bag of sheepskin boots—but the UGG brand would never again be just a sheepskin boot. People either love or hate UGG Australia, but everyone has an opinion of the brand. Since its humble beginnings, the brand's magical combination of functional benefits and emotional appeal quickly spread around the globe. I, for one, never saw myself as a big UGG fan, but I have to admit that I secretly admire the company for its successful brand strategies, thoughtful product portfolio extensions, and the creative new brand experiences it offers. The UGG story and the evolution of the brand is an inspiration for all retail brandsand a good example of how a brand's identity can transcend all platforms.    

    To its credit, the UGG brand has always had a recognizable brand proposition. However, to stay relevant to consumers over its 36-year history, the brand has had to evolve quite a bit. From a symbol of laid-back southern Californian culture to a luxurious global lifestyle brand for active people, UGG has always been able to embody both comfort and luxury, which it embraces as core values. These values had always been consistently reflected in UGG's brand mission statement and in everything the brand does, but in the digital age, a clear mission and close alignment between its values and brand expression was no longer enough. Now UGG is taking a different strategic approach to flex its brand expression and integrate digital touchpoints to further extend its brand image in the digital space. Specifically, UGG is breaking new ground by fusing brick-and-mortar with online channels and cultivating a thriving online community.

    Give influencers the spotlight

    With the online universe being as extensive as it is, a brand cannot attempt to assert its own voice among all channels without the risk of diluting the authenticity and inspirational qualities of its brand image. To expand its social media footprint and build awareness of its brand and productswithout losing authenticityUGG set up the "Creative Council." A disparate group of influencers, with strong personalities and a sense of style, will share their passion for the UGG brand and its products in their own unique way. The blog posts will live on each blogger's site, but will also be part of UGG.com. 

    Lead the conversation with authentic content 

    In a world in which consumers now trust on-line tastemakers more than they trust brands, this is a very smart moveand a clever way to market through content without UGG itself having to create it (something brands aren't always good at). Instead, the brand will be delivering the content to the digital world, while the bloggers share their individual opinions and real points of viewwhich will ensure more authentic content. Since this is marketing after all, UGG will obviously be influencing the influencers to write positive things about the brand but, the fact is, UGG cannot actually control what the bloggers write. It may be difficult for companies to let go in this way, but brands can no longer grow in isolation. Instead, brands need to focus on influencing and engaging people in the hope that consumers will shape "what the brand stands for today" in the best possible way. 

    Use digital to create a seamless shopper experience

    The aim to deliver a seamless customer experience across all available shopping channels, is a goal that is supported by UGG’s parent company, Deckers Outdoor. In fact, the corporation opened a brick-and-mortar "innovation lab" store with integrated technology offerings to improve its omnichannel strategy. The next generation retail store will serve as a testing ground for new technologies and merchandising approaches. You can now walk through the store, educate yourself about the UGG brand with the provided tablets, order your favourite pair of UGGs that are just out-of-stock and have them delivered at home, or even customize your own pair of new footwear. Regular UGG stores are also at the forefront of new generation retail, allowing customers to order out-of-stock goods online on in-store mobile devices. To stay relevant, brands need to integrate digital touchpoints into their physical retail environment, as customer journeys existing entirely in the physical world are history. 

    As these examples illustrate, UGG is forging new ground and flexing its brand expression across touchpoints to move with the world. By facilitating real dialogue, giving influencers the spotlight, generating authentic brand-associated content, and leveraging brand-led conversations across all platforms, brands can not only increase exposure, but reach the consumers who truly value what you have to offer.

    Ugg Creative Council - fashion images

    Dominiek Post is an Analyst at Interbrand 

    You can follow her on Twitter @DominiekPost  

    Photo credits: Images courtesy of UGG's corporate website

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  • Posted by: Brittany Waterson on Wednesday, February 26 2014 03:04 PM | Comments (0)
    Paris Fashion Week Live

    Fashion Week, held every February and September in New York, London, Milan and Paris, is known for ushering the newest styles, trends, and designers into mainstream fashion. The season will come to a close in Paris this week, where brands like Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Lanvin, are now showing their collections. For the past few years brands have become more experimental, pushing the digital envelope and integrating technology into their fashion shows. Streaming shows live and posting photos immediately online are trends that have now become expected from Fashion Week. Within the last few years, fashion brands are working in different ways to connect with consumers and bring new concepts to reality.

    Alexander Wang chose to host his Fall 2014 show in Brooklyn. The invitations were heat sensitive and arrived with step-by-step directions to the venue. The brand also teamed up with Uber, an app-based cab service, providing 30% off Uber transportation. The invitation was a foretelling of the heat-activated fabric Wang used in his collection. For the show’s finale, models were positioned under heat vents as the fabric changed colors under the presence of warmth. The brand is not the first to debut this type of technology, but certainly one with the most brand recognition.

    For the Rebecca Minkoff Fall 2014 fashion show, the brand used the social media platform Keek to post behind scenes videos. The company’s CEO Uri Minkoff believes customers appreciate an insider look at the brand and connect more with raw and un-edited content. Rebecca Minkoff has also used its large social media presence in past fashion weeks to debut looks to customers via Tumblr and Snapchat. The value of a brand’s social media following is indispensable and helps create a highly engaged audience, welcomed into the brand’s inner circle.

    Marc Jacobs opened a pop-up shop for his fragrance, Daisy, in New York City on the first day of Fashion Week. Formally called the Daisy Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop, the store employed social currency; visitors could use the hashtag #MJDaisyChain and receive a branded gift from the store. Exchanging branded items for social media posts is an innovative concept to spread awareness and reward customers for their endorsements.

    Burberry is one of the most digital brands in the luxury sector. Constantly pushing the tech-envelope, Burberry looks to merge digital and physical touch points across its brand. From teaming up with Apple last year to opening a till-free beauty boutique, Burberry has championed an array of successful innovations. The brand has also successfully expanded its “Runway Made to Order” service, which now includes menswear, womenswear, and cosmetics available for purchase and personalization, straight off the runway. For its most recent Fall 2014 show, Burberry created heavy engagement on social media, posting exclusive photography, videos and original Vines.

    “Burberry’s strength is very much in asserting its sense of self while demonstrating its sensibility to an evolving world and consumer. As such, the brand is looked to as an adept and agile maestro of the experiential” comments Rebecca Robins, Director EMEA & LatAm for Interbrand and co-author of Meta-luxury: Brands and the Culture of Excellence. “This is a brand that has embraced the very premise of tradition as innovation, remaining true to the threads of its core values, while working constantly to ensure its relevance for generations to come."

    "The question for brand owners," Robins adds, "should be how does innovation add value to the brand? How do innovations add value to how consumers engage with the brand? In the same way that leading luxury brands dispense with the very term 'luxury,' technology comes as standard. The brands that truly embed the magic and logic of innovation and the magic and logic of brand as central organizing principle, will be the ones that we will be reading about long beyond the runway.”

    Fashion Week is a time for brands to showcase their ability to experiment and further position themselves as innovators in the fashion industry. Strides and advancements made in past fashion weeks have now become expectation. While some fashion brands are still slow to embrace it, technology is a new way to tell a brand story, especially through social networking outlets and product development. Utilizing technology is becoming increasingly necessary for fashion brands, as live streams, social media, and digital innovation are essential to connecting with consumers.

    Brittany Waterson is an Associate in Interbrand's Global Marketing and Communications team.

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  • Posted by: Brittany Waterson on Friday, February 7 2014 09:43 AM | Comments (0)
    Ralph Lauren

    Ralph Lauren is a globally iconic and sought after brand. Best known for its elegant and classic designs, the brand has quickly become synonymous with outfitting top athletes and sponsoring premiere sporting events. The premium lifestyle brand prides itself on creating high-quality garments rooted in Ralph Lauren’s Americana vision. From Wimbledon to the Sochi Olympics, Ralph Lauren is constantly reinforcing its brand as suppliers of superior athletic apparel.

    Within the last 10 years, the brand has worked with the best competitions in tennis, golf, and has now partnered with the Olympics. The uniforms designed for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games marks the fourth collaboration between Ralph Lauren and the US Olympic Committee.

    For the Sochi Olympics, the brand can proudly display a Made in America label on the designs. The Opening Ceremony uniforms at the 2013 London Olympic Games fell into controversy, having been largely produced in China. But this year, domestic production was key. The brand created a video explaining the story behind the production of the garments, showcasing the progression from raw wool to the design studio.

    “We see a macro shift taking place in luxury consumption from ‘showing’ to ‘knowing,’ from more overt statements of accumulation to a more meaningful sense of self-expression and indeed self-discovery," says Rebecca Robins, Director EMEA LatAm for Interbrand and co-author of Meta-luxury: Brands and the Culture of Excellence. "As such, the threads of craftsmanship, history and provenance have never been more integral to brands and to brand storytelling. Authenticity has to come as standard.”

    The Opening Ceremony outfit was revealed on The Today Show on January 23, 2014, displaying a patriotic palette of red, white and blue. David Lauren told The Today Show that he was “inspired by classic American patchwork quilts and sweaters, specifically the made-by-hand look.” The uniform includes a patchwork cardigan, cream cotton turtleneck sweater, fleece athletic pants, and black leather boots. Through the purchase of the limited edition cardigan, 100% of the profits from the piece will go to the US Olympic Committee.

    Growing globally and having the opportunity to be seen worldwide is a testament to the Ralph Lauren brand. From its previous collaborations with the Olympics, the brand has become a natural fit as the official Team USA Olympic outfitter. Both the Olympics and Ralph Lauren work together to create a complementary story based on athletic excellence at the world’s most highly regarded sporting event.

    The Olympic Games often bring out a sense of patriotism in all of us. There is no better way to align an American brand, than outfitting Team USA. When similar brand values align through partnerships it creates a stronger story. Brand partnerships become memorable and hopefully, mutually beneficial. Designing for the Olympics is not only an incredible opportunity for Ralph Lauren, but also a way to reinforce its position and purpose as a purveyor of American style and design.

    Brittany Waterson is an Associate in Interbrand's Global Communications and Marketing team.

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  • Posted by: Ottavia Pelloni on Tuesday, June 11 2013 09:47 AM | Comments (0)


    With the opening of the 2013 EcoChic Design Award, a sustainable fashion design competition, talent from Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Singapore, UK, France, Belgium and Germany will be “cutting the waste out of fashion.” Spotlighting sustainable sourcing, the competition is open until August 15.

    Prizes include an educational trip to jewelry brand John Hardy in Bali, the opportunity to show original collections at Hong Kong Fashion Week and have work featured in a global traveling showcase.

    At this year’s Fashion Week previews of Autumn 2013 collections in London and New York, designers such as Britain’s Louis Gray played with repurposed materials in a collection referred to in the press as “derelict chic.” Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart’s emerging label, Vaute, became the first all vegan fashion label to show during New York Fashion Week.

    With global attention on sustainable luxury and fashion, we take a look at luxury brands and how committed to sustainability, as a key component of corporate citizenship, they are today. When it comes to corporate citizenship, many luxury brands are seeing the necessity – and opportunity – to be socially responsible.

    Starting in 2011, for example, a number of Italian high-end fashion brands have invigorated efforts to restore Italy’s cultural landmarks. Designer Kenneth Cole is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Reserch and sits on the board of HELP USA, dedicated to helping the homeless. Donna Karan created the Urban Zen Foundation, partnering with New York’s Beth Israel, supporting the Department of Integrative Medicine and Medical Center’s Continuum Center for Health and Healing to change the environment of the oncology unit, introduce yoga therapy and conduct research.

    While there is much activity among luxury brands and designers in corporate citizenship, and it is becoming well understood that it’s a vital part of the life of brands today, environmental sustainability remains a painful issue in the luxury space. Because of the scarcity of raw materials and the special production techniques required to create luxury products, for example leather, the production lines of luxury brands strongly impact the environment.

    When it comes to environmental sustainability, today the world of luxury can in some ways be divided into “Davids” and Goliaths.” The “Davids” are new upcoming brands that have sustainability at the core of their vision and mission, and that cannot comprise on it.

    Monique Pean AHE Collection

    Monique Péan is well-known for its sustainable jewelry. ECOALF develops their own textiles from the innumerable discarded plastic bottles fishing nets, and even coffee grinds, repurposing them into soft wearable fabric and it has recently been included into Barneys’ assortment.

    Svilu, founded in 2012 by Britt Cosgrove and Marina Polo, seeks to revisit the fundamentals of a woman’s wardrobe by offering timeless staples that are mindfully sourced and locally produced. These are great examples of sustainable luxury.

    For the global, long-heritage luxury brands that populate everyone’s imagination, or the “Goliaths,” taking their commitment to becoming eco-friendly from intent to process throughout their supply chains has been slow and difficult.

    In 2012 the luxury brands group PPR, for example, announced a series of environmental targets to reduce its footprint. The five-year plan, which covers all the company's brands, includes reductions of CO2 and waste production, controlled water and hazardous chemicals usage, as well as regulated sourcing of raw materials and precious materials.

    Despite efforts of these global brands, GREENPEACE asked them to provide detailed information about their sustainability practices and many have been reluctant to do so. Why with so much conversation about the importance of sustainability and the threat of a shame campaign would some big brands not respond and in some cases continue to perpetuate unsustainable practices?


    The answer may lie not solely in the cost and logistics of changing supply chains and manufacturing practices, but in what brands observe in consumer behavior. While consumers list the environment as a priority, purchases point to contradictory choices.

    An article published in 2012 on Fashion Theory shows that even consumers that say they care about sustainability engage in behaviors that are not sustainable when it comes to choosing what to wear. Style is mandatory for many and may override other priorities.

    Brands that once shied away from the ethical and sustainability problems of fur are coming back to it, while at the same time designing eco-friendly products within their collections. This dissonance reflects the real challenges consumers themselves experience in choosing between what seems luxurious and being fully sustainable.

    For luxury brands to be authentically committed to sustainability, environmental campaigns threatening them with negative PR and lost customers does not seem a powerful way to go. What will likely motivate brands is seeing the success of those that are seriously acting on sustainability.

    GREENPEACE has ranked Valentino top eco-friendly luxury brand. In the luxury world, Tiffany has taken sustainability very seriously and is committed to obtaining precious metals and gemstones in ways that are socially and environmentally responsible. Tiffany & Co. not only ranked in the top 100 brands in Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2012 report, it saw a 15 percent increase in brand value from the 2011 report.

    Threatening doesn’t work; we need positive, fiscally sound arguments to convince luxury brands. As brand consultants, it is our job to build a strong case for the ROI of sustainability and corporate citizenship as a whole.

    To push luxury brands to take sustainability more seriously, we should help them to see the value that can come from being an authentically sustainable brand. Once we bring luxury brands on board, they can shape the idea of “coolness” and style for consumers.

    Ottavia Pelloni is a Senior Consultant for Interbrand.

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  • Posted by: Karla Aspiras on Friday, August 10 2012 06:00 PM | Comments (0)

    Hotly anticipated this summer is the outcome of a court battle between two high-end fashion houses, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Louboutin. Today is the one-year anniversary of the decision in the case and now a decision on its appeal is awaited.

    The southern district court of New York that issued the original decision on August 10, 2011, which dealt with the issue of use of a single color for shoe outsoles. It started when YSL released a line of monochromatic shoes, including the soles, as part of its Cruise 2011 collection.

    Christian Louboutin first approached YSL regarding four models of monochromatic red shoes from the Cruise 2011 line. YSL refused to withdraw the questioned models from the market, so Louboutin decided to sue. He filed suit for trademark infringement, dilution, false designation of origin and unfair competition against YSL. Louboutin also asked for an injunction. An injunction would have the court order YSL to stop from manufacturing and selling any of the four red monochromatic shoes while all the above-mentioned claims are in the middle of litigation.

    Judge Marrero of the southern district court of NY ruled against Louboutin on the matter of this injunction. Therefore, YSL can continue manufacturing and selling shoes with red soles.

    One reason the court gave for denying Louboutin’s request for an injunction is color depletion. Color depletion theory addresses the concern that colors are limited, and to grant exclusive rights to colors is anti-competitive and would deplete the available stock of colors. They said that allowing Louboutin protection for the red sole would “cast a red cloud over the industry, cramping what other designers could do, while allowing Louboutin to paint with a full palette.” But this is inaccurate, because Louboutin’s trademark registration clearly limits the mark to “women's high fashion designer footwear.”

     Christian Louboutin Shoes

    It would have been a valid cause of concern if, indeed, Louboutin was claiming ownership of the color red, instead of use of the color red for the outsole for high fashion designer footwear. If it were the former, then it would be anti-competitive for all kinds of companies and industries across the board, not only for the fashion industry where use of color is ubiquitous.

    The court recognized that Louboutin’s red sole had acquired secondary meaning — that it served as an indicator of source of a product. But it was also decided that it did not matter.

    Christian Louboutin testified in the injunction hearing and explained how the red sole came about. He chose red for the outer sole because of its energy. The court took that to mean that the choice of red for Louboutin soles is solely for an aesthetic, ornamental, non-trademark purpose and therefore non protectable as a trademark.

    But what can be a stronger identifier of source than the red sole? You know it’s a Louboutin immediately, even from a distance, just by seeing the red outsole, than seeing the stylized “Louboutin” stamped underneath.

    Last May, French Cour de Cassation, the highest court in France invalidated Louboutin’s red sole mark in France. It was hinged on a technicality where the registration lacked a specific Pantone color reference. Louboutin is re-filing for a trademark in France.

    Louboutin is not the only luxury fashion house having trademark problems. Earlier this year, Hermes lost its suit against a Chinese clothing company that obtained a registration for a Chinese name very similar to how Hermes is pronounced in Chinese.

    Tiffany's Iconic BoxThese setbacks cause damage not only to the companies that own the marks, but also highlight very thin intellectual property protection for goods in the fashion industry. Fashion designers usually look to trademark for protection, but decisions like the denial of Louboutin’s injunction further erode the little trademark rights fashion designers have.

    We’ll have to wait and see until the New York appeals court decision on Louboutin’s appeal comes out and for the meantime, Tiffany's better watch its blue jewelry boxes and Hermes its signature orange.

    Karla Aspiras is a Trademark Analyst at Interbrand NY.

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