Don't dilute your brand in the dash for cash


HE’S made it to 95 years old, so Pierre Cardin is not yet turning in his grave at the parade of artless trash that these days bears his name.


But the man that once dominated French, and therefore world, fashion has had his brand so comprehensively diluted, so hideously besmirched, that his logo is crudely bolted to anything from mobile phone cases to water bottles.


In the fifties he dressed Rita Hayworth and Eva Perone. He dressed the Beatles in the sixties. And in the twentyteens he dresses people who just don’t care.


Should you be unfortunate enough to find yourself in a branch of Sports Direct you’ll see Pierre Cardin’s logo plastered on shirts that were not so much designed as accidented. You’ll see it on the piles of cheap socks near the cash register. The ones that are meant to appeal to the impulse buyer on his way to the till. So many impulses lead to regret.


The demise of his brand is a shame, but poor Pierre has no one to blame but himself. In 2002 he told the New York Times: “If someone asked me to do toilet paper, I’d do it.”


Other brands wanting to avoid this fate should take note.


A reputation for quality in one area does not translate easily to another. Montblanc make beautiful pens. So why are they asking me to spend the price of a second-hand Rolex on one of their watches? They don’t have the pedigree. If I had money spare to buy a second-hand Rolex, I’d buy a second-hand Rolex.


Watches seem to be a big temptation for brands looking to spread their wings and maximise their profit. Gucci, Armani and Boss all sell watches bearing their respective logos. Prices start in the very low hundreds of pounds, with quality to match. If you’re spending £1000 on a suit you probably want a better watch than that. And do people really want to step out hat to shoe and neck to wrist in the same brand?


Jeans should be made by jeans manufacturers. Specifically, Lee, Levi’s or Wrangler. Dior shouldn’t be dabbling in denim, whether it costs £500 or not.


Training shoes should be made by sports manufacturers. What can Gucci or Prada or (yes, again) Dior bring to the gym or (more likely) the pub?


The message is simple. When you’ve built a great reputation for producing a high-quality, narrow range of products, the best way to maintain that reputation is obvious. Carry on producing a high-quality, narrow range of products.

Pete Bell