The young fashion designers who have been chosen as laureates of the 2017 OpenMyMed Prize after a particularly arduous selection process, were in Marseilles from 6 to 9 June at the Maison Méditerranéenne des métiers de la Mode (MMMM). « I am really impressed by the quality of the candidates, even at the pre-selection stage. It is obvious that they have worked hard preparing for it. » The compliment is much appreciated when it comes from Jayne Estève-Curé, Elite Consultant and graduate from the French Higher School of Clothing Industries (ESIV) and the French Fashion Institute. She, along with Olivier Guillemin, Creative Director and President of the Comité Français de la Couleur, and Olivier Védrine, Architect-Designer and lecturer at the Camondo Decorative Arts School, are the trio of experts who have been coaching the laureates during their initiation into the fashion world, with the mission of helping each one develop their own particular brand strategy.
Interview with our trio:
Did Balenciaga or Schiaparelli have a brand strategy?
Between the mimicry of fast fashion, the multiplication of intermediary collections, see-now-buy-now, and capsule collections with stratospheric success generated by the Who’s Who of pop-up-people, bloggers or an inactive FLOTUS* – we have the heroes we deserve –, it is difficult to tell the wheat from the chaff. How do you go about creation? More importantly, how do you register and keep its singularity over time with coherence and legibility? That is the role of having a brand strategy, and Jayne and the two Oliviers are experts in this field. “Creators have their own specific signatures. Of course originally they didn’t need a brand strategy, but today there is too much fashion on offer, it’s excessive.” This strategy is de facto an essential tool for the creators themselves, like an aid for their creativity. An introspective exercise which involves probing the personality of the creator to understand what makes him or her tick. “When we create something, says Alber Elbaz, we should start first of all with a dream and intuition. Marketing comes afterwards, not before.” Jayne Estève Curé looks to define the universe of the creator, their inspirations and hopes, muses and icons, in order to capture the subconscious. To do this she has developed an exploratory method bases on the 5 senses. “My objective is to arrive at the instinctive inspiration, an emotion at the source of the creative process.” A quasi anthropometric exercise takes place in parallel, collecting signs and indications – logos, visuals, taken verbatim from social networks, visits to points of sale, testimonies and accounts which piece by piece make up the perceived identity of the brand. Is this inspection an accurate reflection of the mental universe of the creator? Does their existing customer match and conform with their ideal customer? The role of the brand strategy is to guarantee this coherence. “A label must have resonance with its public” confirms Jayne Estève Curé, “we live in a time which is looking for authenticity, where the notion of community inevitably emerges.” Brand strategy, therefore, becomes a scenario which draws from the brand’s founding elements and allows the creator to “tell a different story every season” while at the same time enriching their underlying, founding story, which is at the heart of their creative project.
Telling the same old story?
Brand strategy makes a concrete operational and strategic contribution to the label, which can be decisive in terms of successful development. “It is a guide which makes the intangible tangible, a physical materialisation of the brand which translates its mission, its statement, values and personality. From the idea to the final offer, the process can become a very efficient exercise.” If we return to our 20 laureates, Jane and the two Oliviers have designed for them a coaching programme in 3 dimensions. Analysing what already exists, sources of inspiration and exploring the 5 senses; five half-days spent working together, ending ith 3 workshops being realised in parallel. Jayne will work on the process of researching creative identity and its relationship with what is currently fashionable. Olivier Guillemin will work on the essential question of colour. Olivier Védrine will look more towards what happens in the retail sector, displays and scenography and creative dramatisation. Discussions and exchanges will take the form of mini-briefs, mood boards and written documents. “It’s not about inventing a story; that usually fails. It is more about identifying a form of truth and refining it to help each creator take a large step forward. We use a methodology which looks at each person and takes into consideration their individual levels of evolution and development.” Creative identity is untouched and marketing is there to provide a framework which encourages its fulfilment. Jayne makes the point that she sometimes works with managers who think like creative people. Why is it, therefore, that creative people do not think like managers? Based on her experience as a teacher at the French Fashion Institute and the School of Decorative Arts she points out that “if fashion creators and designers are artists who have chosen the medium of clothing, today they also know how to recruit their associates and co-workers, design boutiques or marketing communications campaigns and run international groups.”
By Luc Clément, Editor Marie Claire Mediterrannée