Globalization of Chanel

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  • Topic: Chanel, Audrey Tautou, Coco Chanel
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  • Published : May 10, 2012
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History of the Chanel Brand

The success of Chanel as one of the leading luxury brands in the world could be traced back to the humble beginnings of its namesake’s founder, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. She had revolutionized fashion and had literally liberated women from restrictive clothing and ostentatious accessories through introducing a whole new look that she had started from her own sense of style and freedom. Her designs have greatly appealed to several women from high societies in all ages – but were likewise much imitated by the lower class. She popularized the use of jersey as an haute couture material and her name later on became one of the prominent symbols of elitism, wealth and class[1].

The success of the luxury brand could be attributed both with the manner for which it has adapted to the changing modes of the society and with the way it stood ground and faithful to the original meaning of Chanel “classics,” and in remaining true to the fact that fashion is a conglomeration of ideas – an apt reflection of the way people live and of the events that inspired such way of life. It is not an entity to stand for itself; it is not with the promotion of downright ostentatiousness, but rather with the celebration of femininity and fluidity of motion.

Competition with Other Brands through the Years:

The years 1914 to 1918 saw several socio-economic changes during the First World War There was a growing recognition on the changing roles of women in the Parisian society and the flamboyant manner of dressing became seemingly inappropriate after the onset of war. Thus, Chanel’s introduction of the “flapper style” in the 1920s became in tune with the growing social consciousness that was evidently resulted from the Parisians’ war experiences. Women were finally liberated from their corsets and short sleek hair became the fashion for women who were already asserting their newly found freedom. Chanel became the epitome of the 20s style as the masculine, flat-chest silhouette of couture became synonymous to style and liberation[2]. Much of Chanel’s success was likewise attributed to her partnership with Pierre Wertheimer and to the introduction of Parfums Chanel in the luxury market.

However, the female form returned in the 1930s through the introduction of clothing from Madeleine Vionnet and Mainbocher. Chanel perfume likewise found a very stiff competition with the advent of a new line of perfumery from Elsa Schiaparelli. Yet, Chanel managed to prevail as she was chosen to dress the most influential women of that period – Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Elizabeth Taylor. Coco Chanel established a successful fashion studio near the museum of Louvre in Paris, France. Coco Chanel also started her set of jewelry line that was initially used for her daytime sportswear collection[3].

The Chanel perfume line likewise thrived as Chanel No. 5 became the dynamic equivalent of upper class fragrance in the late 1920s. In 1929, Chanel’s partner, Pierre Wertheimer introduced Soir de Paris to gain access to a much general market. This partnership has thrived and became one of the leading industries of the upscale market in spite of the growing differences of the personal relationships of Wertheimer and Chanel. Chanel felt that the Wertheimers were exploiting her talent through not adequately providing her with her fair share in the income of the company. The Wertheimers however, maintained that they have solely financed Chanel’s business ventures and were it not for their help; Chanel would not be able to gain prominence and wealth[4].

The onset of World War II and the invasion of the Nazi forces to France prompted Chanel to close her shop. As the Wertheimers fled to the United States, Chanel tried to gain full control to Parfums Chanel but has failed to do so as the Wertheimers had already anticipated that move.

In the 1940s, Chanel went into exile in Switzerland after France gained victory over the Nazi forces....
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