Pierre Cardin, whose name and business has one of the highest global recognition levels in the luxury fashion sector, is not only a fashion design icon, but has also become an institution. At his current age of 85 years, Pierre Cardin has a career in fashion spanning more than 65 years. He continues to preside over a fashion empire that he built from nothing and still owns 100 per cent. He has been described as the godfather of the fashion industry and as an unparalleled revolutionary.
The Pierre Cardin fashion empire currently has 840 factories and employs more than 200,000 people in over 100 countries. It incorporates diversified fields ranging from fashion and accessories, to cosmetics, fragrance, jewellery and timepieces, restaurants, hotels and museums. Other product divisions include champagne, wines and spirits, sweets and chocolates and other consumer goods such as confectionaries and canned food.
Pierre Cardin was propelled to the global stage of fashion as a result of his high artistic talent and his innovative and often radical nature. He is a visionary who paved the way for several aspects of modern fashion business practices. He was also one of the first designers to take fashion beyond creativity, into the business sphere, through licensing agreements and diversification beyond the range of traditional luxury fashion goods. He also paved the way for the current Premium Fashion revolution led by brands like Zara and H&M, through his early quest to take high fashion to the masses.
The artistic talent and cultural innovation of the man, Pierre Cardin, has been recognized and honoured in fashion and beyond. The French government gave him several awards including the 'Legion d'Honneur' and membership into the prestigious 'Academie Francaise', which safeguards the French history, culture and art. Pierre Cardin is also an ambassador of UNESCO and a friend to several presidents, great leaders and innovators of the past and present century. It has famously been said that Pierre Cardin, whose company headquarters is opposite the Palais Elysees, where the French President lives, often exchanges morning greeting waves with the President from his office balcony. His influence stretches from Paris to Tokyo, Las Vegas, Moscow and beyond.
However, the mention of the name Pierre Cardin in fashion circles today conjures up several images and ideas in people. This is mainly as a result of the brand's multiple licensing strategy. The current perception of the brand Pierre Cardin has been greatly affected by the rampant licensing agreements and excessive diversification of the brand, which are viewed as a compromise to the qualities of a luxury brand. In a period when luxury brands are buying back licensing agreements in a quest to protect the brand's equity and increase its value, Pierre Cardin's licensing endorsements continue to grow beyond 900 products ranging from fashion goods to champagne, olive oil, tableware, floor tiles, toilet seats and even hospital mattresses.
These raise several questions about the extent and dimensions that licensing can be adopted by luxury brands and their potential impact on the brand's long-term equity.
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