Lesson 2 - Fashion

January 5, 2016

Video script

 

Once upon a time there were four identical brothers with four very different T-shirts. The T-shirts were all nice, only one of them was saying a lot more than the others.

 

-  Who do you think would be the best at sport?

- Aaa.. That one!

- Whose team would you want to be on?

- (everyone points at the same boy wearing a Nike T-shirt)

- Who do you think is the coolest?

- This guy!

- Who would you most want to be friends with?

- (everyone points at the same boy)

 

How can that little swooshy thing mean so much? That’s how powerful a fashion super brand is. These are the huge global organisations with turnover in billions, who’ve not only invaded our wardrobe…

 

- Ralph Lauren. Head to toe.

 

… they’ve invaded our upbringing. Now I’m going to find the secrets of their power. There’s just one problem.

 

- What do you think, Alex, your fashion choice says about you?

- I think… it says… that I like a bargain.

 

But I’ll follow their global trail and I’ll find out how they get so deeply into our minds. 

 

- That’s one of her pleasure centres, the red lighting up when she sees the expensive handbags, but not when she sees the cheap ones. 

 

But it’s big, the world of fashion, so where to start? I will make here some inquiries on the street. 

 

- Now the belt, you’ve got a Louis Vuitton belt, you’ve got a Gucci belt. Is there any… I mean, would you wear a Gucci belt?

- No he wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t wear a Louis Vuitton.

- Why not? How much was that?

- 260.

- Woohoo! For a belt?

- Yeah.

- This was about eight quid, this one, still keeping my trousers up into!

 

That was it! I’m going to find out how Louis Vuitton gets someone to forecount two hundred and sixty quid for a belt!

 

The Louis Vuitton company started in Paris in 1854 making expensive luggage for royalty and the elite. In the last twenty years they’ve branched out into luxury clothing. A coat would cost you up to 3000 pounds and a handbag up to 50,000. Blimey!

 

But I’m not looking for official history, I’m looking for secrets. So, I’ve tracked down Dana Thomas who studied luxury brands and got a bit hooked in the process.

 

Well, Louis Vuitton is this incredibly amazing, unattainable, extremely expensive thing, isn’t it?

It’s seen as that through its marketing. But it’s actually very accessible. In 1977 Louis Vuitton only had two stores. And now it’s an enormous business. 

 

They now have over 400 shops all over the world.

 

- It’s a delicate balance of selling masses to the masses while still remaining exclusive to the rich. You have a pyramid. At the top you have the very beautifully made exclusive, limited amount of product. They will make anything you want. From there you have the middle range that you can walk into the store and you can buy it. It’s still very well made, beautiful fabrics. And then you have the bottom range where the money comes in, where they just sell masses of stuff, to be it perfume, wallets, belts, scarves, umbrellas, keychains, sunglasses. That’s how they manage to keep people like the Sultan of Brunei, Hollywood stars, royalty as customers, as well as selling to the Chinese secretary who wants to put the bag on her desk to show that she can afford a Louis Vuitton bag. 

- So, the top of the pyramid is where you build the image, is where you build the kudos, and then the rest of the pyramid is where you exploit it and turn into cash?

- Exactly.

 

That’s brilliant! So even if we can’t afford the top or the middle of the pyramid, we can still thread some of its reflected glory throughout through our trouser loops. 

 

As far as I can see, this is how most of the luxury brands work. All that super expensive high profile stuff that they do at the top end is just losing the money. But they raking it in on the more affordable stuff at the bottom of this so called pyramid. 

 

But where are they getting all the stuff from? Who’s making it?

 

I’ve been looking up to locate the place where Chanel make their 200-pound sunglasses. Not the old-world Parisian workshop I’d imagined. It’s a huge factory belonging to a company called Luxottica. 

 

- This is Massimo, and you are Chief Operating Officer of this…

- Luxottica Group. So welcome in the temple of… the… glasses factory.

 

Luxottica is something of s super brand in its own right. They own Sunglass Hut, Oakley, Persol, Ray Ban, and others.

 

- … 55 million per year…

 

And it turns out it isn’t just Chanel that have their sunglasses made here. Who knew that all these different brands with their «unique identities» are all made in the same factory?

 

I’ve been told in this area using the same materials and the same machines you can make any number of different branded sunglasses… Tiffany! Polo! Chanel! Dolce and Gabbana! And Versace. 

 

- And we want every line to be able to produce any models. 

- Yes. For example, this is doing Polo today and next week it might do Ray Ban or…

- … Next shift.

- … Next shift or it could be next half an hour. 

- It could be any of the other brands?

- Any.

 

***

100 Years of women's fashion

 

1915 A hat with a feather and wide band, a loose long dress, alacy blouse and gloves

 

1925 A cloche hat, sleeveless dress,  white gloves

high heel sandals, loose hanging necklace

 

1935  A black hat contrasting the white gloves and bag, a long soft pastel-coloured dress

 

1945  Shoulder-length wavy hair, a fitted jacket, a sleeveless blouse.

 

1955 A tight-fitting dress, knee-length loose-fitting satin cloak, eccentric hat and bag, pearl necklace

 

1965 A turtle-neck fuchsia dress, shoes matching the hat and bag

 

1975  A denim jumpsuit, oversized sunglasses

 

1985  A satin sheath dress, dishevelled haircut

 

1995 A short dark dress with long sleeves, black tights and matching black boots

 

2005 A pink satin top, flared jeans

 

2015 Ripped jeans, a black leather jacket

 

***
 

SONG: All I Want For Christmas Is You
 

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree

I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you, yeah.

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
And I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree

I don't need to hang my stocking
There upon the fireplace
Santa Claus won't make me happy
With a toy on Christmas Day

I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you
You, baby

Oh, I won't ask for much this Christmas
I won't even wish for snow
And I'm just gonna keep on waiting
Underneath the mistletoe

I won't make a list and send it
To the North Pole for Saint Nick
I won't even stay awake to
Hear those magic reindeer click

'Cause I just want you here tonight
Holding on to me so tight
What more can I do?
Baby, all I want for Christmas is you
You, baby

Oh, all the lights are shining
So brightly everywhere
And the sound of children's
Laughter fills the air

And everyone is singing
I hear those sleigh bells ringing
Santa, won't you bring me the one I really need?
Won't you please bring my baby to me?

Oh, I don't want a lot for Christmas
This is all I'm asking for
I just want to see my baby
Standing right outside my door

Oh, I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
Baby, all I want for Christmas is you
You, baby

 

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