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Couture fashion industry poised to take off

Access to high fashion is no longer reserved to special trips abroad, runway shows and custom fittings; rather, couture seamstresses pack wardrobes ready to accommodate their clientele globally. This is definitely fashion on demand.

“Because the customers are not always coming to Paris, we need to go to them for the fittings,” Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion at Chanel, told WWD.

Toward this end, the French fashion house will be bringing the latest from Karl Lagerfeld to New York, Los Angeles and Shanghai, plus a yet undecided Asian destination, to tap the growth potential in that region.

“The most important thing is to find the best way of working with our existing and new customers,” Pavlovsky said.

In a similar move, after success in Malaysia and Singapore, Valentino plans to bring its collection to Russia. “It’s not only the dress — it’s all the service around,” CEO Stefano Sassi emphasized.

Couture has done remarkably well during the troubled economic times, despite its relatively small customer base. John Hooks, deputy chairman at Giorgio Armani SpA, believes couture customers are recession-proof. “Couture is following the current pattern of all trade in the fashion business,” Hooks said. “Emerging markets are growing faster than the established ones.”

His house’s Privé label clocked in a 45 percent gain in 2010, driven by diverse new clients and indicating the importance of first-person contact.

Sidney Toledano, CEO at Christian Dior, citing American customers as bouncing back and Asian markets as expanding, also believes couture is doing well. “It’s been an excellent year for couture,” he said.

Fabrizio Malverdi, chief executive officer at Givenchy, is optimistic, predicting 10 percent growth in this sector during 2011.

Encouraged by 3 percent growth last year, Chucri Cavalcanti, managing director at Elie Saab, is looking ahead to a bright future. “We believe that 2011 will be the year that marks the end of the crisis, and should show some serious growth in our couture sales,” he asserted.

Tagged in: couture, markets, growth, recession, outreach,

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