Last week I wrote an internal culture analysis on the Vera Wang brand. I have a question. How can a brand with a strong reputation for couture wedding dresses enter into the mass market at a moderate price point?
A wikipedia definition for 'lifestyle brand' states, "one key indication that a brand has become a lifestyle is when it successfully extends beyond its original product category." While we know Vera has extended her brand name into different product categories, we cannot be sure as to whether or not those moves have been a success for a few more years.
High-end manufacturers like Wang are struggling to strike a balance between exclusivity and driving volume sales because the definition of a luxury lifestyle is changing. The increasing popularity of knock-offs as well as people who trade down to trade up are two reasons for this.
In other words, luxury brands are making bad decisions. They are trying to push their iconography into areas not relevant to their brand and its culture.
For me, Anthropologie is a very successful lifestyle brand. Though its merchandise does not have the name "anthropologie" on the tag, the store sells culture. Everything within the store is attainable and you feel the same way shopping as you do wearing items from the store or using them to make a souffle in your kitchen.
I am not quite convinced that a brand which sells $35,000 gowns in a Manhattan boutique as well as mass-manufactured clothing at nearly 800 strip mall department stores in the US is a lifestyle.