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Do fashion trends tend to phase themselves out overtime ? Can a fashion label become so accessible that it becomes ubiquitous ? Yes they can . We have all seen fashion labels become unpopular and no longer wanted by the masses. Case in point Tommy Hilfiger became so popular in the 90’s that it went out of style and no one batted an eye. We see this with companies such as Coach, Banana Republic and with the Michael Kors . Yes ! I said it ! Michael Kors is on the verge of having the same fate as these other companies ,it will become ubiquitous and it will phase out of the fashion fore front.
Let’s explore. For one , Michael Kors is now one of the most replicated brands in the world . You can find a knock- off Michael Kors at your local Chevron gas station in some areas. The replicas are looking better than some of the real products in my opinion which is why I don’t really care for the brand. You don’t know the real from the fake. But Michael Kors has bigger worries ahead.
Its distribution is racing towards ubiquity, wholesale and retail (online, its own stores, outlet stores and internationally). Even worse, a rocket-propelled accelerant to ubiquity is its expansion into multiple product categories and sub-brands, so they can compete at all price points. Some would argue all of those segments will simply end up competing with each other, thus cannibalizing the top end of the spectrum.
As I fore mentioned the Tommy Hilfiger brand, came tumbling down in the late 90s for the same reasons. (The seductive thing about the Kors-type of “hot” trajectory is in the initial delight of consumers as the brand becomes to stand for everything for everybody, everywhere. I mean everyone can own a Michael Kors-something.) And everyone can even have the “it” bag or hot garment during this of-the-moment cultural zeitgeist – for the moment. Or should I say for about a nano-second.
All of a sudden, in a nano-split second, the largely young and trend-fickle consumer base wakes up and realizes the brand is slapped on everything and is being worn by everybody, everywhere. And, crash! Wonderful becomes awful. The brand stands for nothing for anybody – everywhere. This is literally death of a designer and the label .
Yet a lot of people, Michael Kors himself and many executives running the company, along with a lot of shareholders, become billionaires from ubiquity. In 2012, Silas Chou and Lawrence Stroll two fashion investors decreased their share ownership from about 52% of the company (just before the IPO in 2011), to just over 15%. Most importantly, did they know, even two years ago, something we don’t know? Did they speculate what the ultimate fate of this brand would be? Did they anticipate a Tommy Hilfiger sequel? .
The Coach brand is in the middle of its own unraveling, mostly because of its ubiquity. Roughly 70% of its revenues are currently coming from its outlet stores, which gives us more than a hint of its devaluation. And two more ironies: first, much of Coach’s demise is due to Kors stealing big share chunks from them; and second, Coach is expanding into other product categories, mainly apparel, to regain growth, in parallel to Kors that built apparel to accelerate growth. Finally, Coach is pinning a lot of their turnaround hopes on a new designer, the revered Stuart Vevers.