The Pierre Cardin brand and the man Pierre Cardin have one personality and identity. There have been minimal significant conscious efforts made to separate the personality of the brand Pierre Cardin from the man himself, Pierre Cardin. Although Pierre Cardin is the owner and ambassador of the brand Pierre Cardin, the brand entity has been entwined with the personality of Pierre Cardin, his beliefs, business practices and evolution. It is quite impossible to think about the brand without conjuring up several aspects of Pierre Cardin, the man, such as his multiple licensing deals and other drastic fashion practices. As a result, the brand Pierre Cardin has no separate personality and image. The numerous products in multiple categories, which are produced by both Pierre Cardin and several licensees, also contribute to a confusing perception of the brand and what it stands for. A part of the consumer public perceives the brand as a 'high-end fashion brand', while others see it as 'a low-quality and cheap brand' as a result of the licensed products, even though the brand's own products are well-crafted and premium-priced. These unclear factors make the task of assessing the branding strategy of Pierre Cardin a challenge.
The corporate strategy of Pierre Cardin has been related to innovation and creativity both in fashion design and business approach. Pierre Cardin is a highly talented fashion designer and an astute businessman. He is an innovator who adopted several aspects of the current fashion management early in his career when they were considered as near taboos. His vision and innovative (sometimes radical) approach to fashion has led to numerous fashion revolutions such as the emergence of the premium fashion sector and other fashion retail practices like licensing, global expansion, brand extension and diversification. He was the first fashion designer to adopt several practices discussed in the following points:
• He was the first haute couture fashion designer to launch a ready-to-wear collection in 1959, at Au Printemps in Paris. Until then, high fashion had been exclusively for the privileged wealthy few and Pierre Cardin's attempt to take high fashion to the masses had never been heard of in the fashion world. The uproar his ready-to-wear collection created and the perceived dishonour that it brought to the luxury fashion world, led to his expulsion from the strict French governing body of haute couturiers, the 'Chambre Syndicale'. Today, high fashion for the masses has been adopted by several luxury brands through diffusion lines and also by premium fashion brands like H&M, Zara and Top Shop.
Pierre Cardin was the first to license his name to products ranging from fashion apparel and accessories to food and furniture. His democratic vision of fashion led to his first licensing agreement for men's shirts and ties. He later extended this outlook outside the fashion category in 1968 with other licences. This launched a new era of luxury fashion brand extension and designer lifestyle goods that have been adopted by luxury brands today. His licensing deals have also extended to consumer goods such as stationery and luggage. However, the licensing partnerships became too rampant and seemingly uncontrolled, leading to a loss of the brand's core equity and value.
Pierre Cardin was the first luxury fashion designer to embark on global expansion by opening stores all over the world, including Japan, China and Russia. His fashion shows in China in the 1970s was the first by a Western fashion designer. This paved the way for the luxury fashion romance currently existing between luxury brands and the Asian market. He was also one of the first designers to adopt expensive and rare materials in product manufacture. For example, he was the first designer to use crocodile skin instead of leather in his accessories creation and also fur in graphic patterns. These practices have since been adopted by several luxury brands.
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