Luxury Fashion Branding: Trends, Tactics, Techniques by Uche Okonkwo

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Luxury Fashion Branding: Trends, Tactics, Techniques by Uche Okonkwo

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Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: Do you know your H&M from your D&G, your Birkin from your Paddington? You will, and much more besides, after reading this lengthy and in-depth investigation into the world of luxury fashion branding.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: May 2007
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN: 978-0230521674

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I have a confession to make. My idea of heaven would be a shopping spree in a deserted branch of Primark, where I could tear through the racks and mounds of clothes with no one and nothing getting in my way. You might therefore think I'm not the kind of person who would appreciate or enjoy a book on luxury fashion brands, but that's where you would be wrong.

I love a good business book, and though this book isn't focused on a specific shop or company, it still fits into this category. It is an extremely thorough account of the history and current state of play of brand name fashion and includes more information than anyone could ever want or need on the subject unless one were, well, writing a book on luxury fashion branding. I found it fascinating to learn just how much thinking obviously goes into the development of companies and brand images, let alone the individual it items of the moment. And, I enjoyed both the general business blurb about strategies and merchandising, and the profiles of individual brands that came at the end, a sort of How I Made It: 40 Successful Entrepreneurs Reveal All of fashion branding.

What I didn't like about this book was that it could be a bit wordy at times, and in parts would state the obvious too such a degree that you wonder how on earth the author thought that level of explanation was needed. One example is when she quotes What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet by " legendary English playwright William Shakespeare" (in case you were wondering), and then proceeds to take no less than 13 lines and 2 paragraphs to explain what he meant when he wrote it. That, as they say, is overkill (The flip side of this is that the book is very clearly written and not awash with jargon, making it easy for the 'common' person to pick up and flick through without difficulty). But, for the whole, the wordiness is little more than mildly irritating, and it's quite easy to skim read a few lines whenever it crops up, until you're back to the good stuff.

And there's a lot of that good stuff, for although the subtitle of the book is Trends, Tactics, Techniques there's a whole lot more than that. The author is nothing if not thorough. She covers everything from the basic concept of a brand, in any arena, to the history of fashion branding, the development of a retail emporium to support and complement said luxury fashions and the fashion consumer as a key player in this economy. The book drips with dropped names - it's Armani this and Gucci that, a H&M here and a D&G there, Naomi and Heidi and Kate and Gisele. Being a "proper", factual, researched book, there is a thorough index at the back and though a younger me might have gone straight for "sex" to see what they had to say about that, the mature, fashion-conscious me went for "Sex and The City", and sure enough this just one of the media creations to which the book makes reference.

The book in itself almost feels like a luxury item, with glossy pages and numerous clear colour photos. It is like a treat to read it, and the 'oh really, so that's how/why they do that' moments are worth the time investment alone. Even though I'm not a big buyer of top end fashion, I was intrigued by this book and could relate to what they were saying. I may have shopped in all the fashion hotspots in the last few years - New York, Paris, Milan - but my purchases were woefully few and far between, and in my wardrobe, my Next suit is one of the 'posh' items. And do you know what? That doesn't matter in the slightest. The book is interesting in a way that means you don't have to know all that much about the subject to be captivated, much as I can read a book about Starbucks without ever having sampled one of their coffees. If you know what they're talking about, then so much the better, but if it's a new topic for you, or one with which you are only vaguely familiar, there's still a lot you can learn and enjoy in this book, and an inability to recognise the difference between a Birkin and a Paddington is not a barrier to this.

If you're a fashion junkie but don't have the drive to read a thick business text, you might enjoy Fashion Babylon which is an inside look at how individual pieces get developed and why there often seems to be a sense of déjà vu about new creations on the catwalk.

Alternatively if you do like the business voice, how about The Rise and Fall of Marks & Spencer: ..and How It Rose Again.

Thank you to Palgrave Macmillan, the publishers, for supplying this book.

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