After reading an article today about France creating loan and other support programs for major fashion houses, I was bit, well, not quite appalled but certainly not wholly supportive.
After reading Deluxe and from my own professional background, I would say some of the troubles boil down to:
1. Higher prices and cheaper manufacturing are not a guarantee for profits
2. Many of these brands have over extended themselves through stores, hotels etc.
3. They've diluted their brands by licensing too much and extending their product lines too much
4. Deceiving your customers is not a great way to build brand loyalty
What do I mean by #1 and #4?
Well, what I am seeing and have read is that many of these brands are taking their manufacturing overseas and having it made cheaply with a few finishing touches added on in France and Italy to keep the "Made in" label. I've bought shoes from high-end lines and on the first wear the insole is coming up and squishing down. Not the experience I'm looking for.
Also, I've been surprised how much prices have gone up in just a few years. Yes, prices will rise but almost double? And when combined with poorer quality goods it really makes people reconsider if they should spend the money.
As design gets better in places like TopShop, Target and Payless and designer labeled products become less well made, these houses are going to suffer more. The main thing these companies have to differentiate themselves is heritage, creativity and quality. If they can't maintain the latter two and if they betray the former, they are going to lose their customers and their businesses.
The industry has changed, and not necessarily for the better.