Friday, April 27, 2012

Why Don't the Cool Kids Wear 'Ed Hardy' Anymore?

It wouldn’t have anything to do with the brand’s essence being applied to a giant plastic lighter, would it?

How is price determined? Is it by quality? Maybe a little – but when it comes to apparel, there’s something far more important. Perception.

Brands are afforded the ability to charge a premium when we say they can.

Not literally, (as clothiers hoping to position themselves as high-end don’t typically enter the market with heavy discounts, waiting on demand to pick up and only then instituted price hikes), but once the perception of value is secured and prestige pricing applied, most brands work tirelessly to maintain their elite status.

They file lawsuits against competitors legit and fraudulent alike – that dare to manufacture product closely resembling their aura.

They execute projects in brand extension – embracing methods that reinforce their perception of quality, all the while increasing their reach down market.  


Vera Wang – High-end designer of women’s wear and famous for couture bridal gowns, Wang now markets “Simply Vera” at mid-market Kohl’s Department Stores. The diffusion line, although priced premium by Kohl’s standards, applies Wang’s signature style to apparel, bedding, and bath lines attainable by fashion-conscious middle-Americans.

Ralph Lauren – From the ultra-exclusivity of his “Purple Label,” to the more standard and iconic “Polo” brand, down to the entry-level, value-conscious “CHAPS” – Ralph Lauren understands the importance of marketing product downstream while maintaining legitimacy and premium pricing at the top.  

So, what did Ed Hardy do wrong?

If ultra-couture brands like Jimmy Choo and Versace can craft lines for H&M and Ralph Lauren beach towels can show up at TJ Maxx, why is Ed Hardy losing mojo with its brand extension projects?

No sub-brand strategyEd Hardy, is Ed Hardy, is Ed Hardy. There was no attempt to devise different naming conventions to other product categories that borrow Ed Hardy’s signature style. Something as minor as “The Bic Everlast Lighter, now stylized by Ed Hardy” would have gone a long way. 

Premium / sub-premium disconnect – An Ed Hardy Zippo would have been better. From couture loungewear to an instrument with open flame – that’s a giant leap. It would felt more natural at least maintained a notion of luxury if Ed Hardy would have partnered with a premier player within the lighter category.

But, maybe they’ve already made their peace?

Perhaps founder Christian Audigier wasn’t looking to win an endurance competition with Ed Hardy? He also launched Von Dutch – remember that blip on the radar?

Maybe his thing is speed – short, fast runs where popularity of edgier, more niche styles rise quickly and fall off just as fast? I suppose if a brand is already on its final descent, there’s no reason it shouldn’t grapple for as many co-branding opportunities as possible.

All I know is my once favorite Ed Hardy briefs, demoted to gym and sleep only, have reached their final post as apartment dust rag.

End of the line...

1 comment:

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