Many fashion designers aim for the big time. What they don't tell you is that going big can sometimes cost you everything, including the rights to your own name. I constantly stress to designers that there are drawbacks when striving to become the next Ralph Lauren. If you don't perform according to the expectations of shareholders, you can be forced out of your own company. Well, there are several big name designers who have fallen victim to this very scenario. Let's take a look at the list:
This designer built her label over the course of 30 years, but eventually sold 75% of the company to Prada. Soon after, Sander could not see "eye to eye" with the Chief Executive of Prada and resigned from her own company. Since then, she has had an on again- off again relationship with her own brand, playing a recurring role at her own company rather than being the star.
One of my favorite designers, who is known for clean lines and the aesthetic of a minimalist. Unfortunately, the ownership of his namesake brand is also minimal. To be frank, non-existent. Sadly, Mr.Klein did not manage the finances of the company efficiently. He spent a fortune on fabric and prototypes. Well, any designer knows prototypes don’t make money, finished designs do. As a consequence, he had to sell the brand and no longer has any creative control.
Galliano, at the height of his career at Dior, managed to start his clothing line under the LVMH brand. On the other hand, this meant that when he left Dior he was forced to leave his label behind.
Yes, the inventor of those bandage dresses that were all the rage in the late 90’s & early 2000’s. Well, his company was bought out by the BCBG Max Azria Group. As a result, he can no longer design under his own name. Tsk, tsk
The designer disappeared from the spotlight never to be heard from again. However, shareholders were not having that and continue to design collections under his name.
Tommy Hilfiger was the "it" designer of the 90's. He was dubbed the next Ralph Lauren and was the first designer of his time to take his company public. However, after a series of business mishaps, including flooding the market with product, the brand began to lose tremendous amounts of money. Once again, to please the shareholders, he stepped down as chairman of his own brand. The company is now owned by PVH - Phillip Van Heusen
There are 3 golden rules every fashion designer should follow:
- Make sure you own the rights to your name
- Own the highest percentage of shares in your company to maintain control
- Manage your finances efficiently from day one
I understand as a creative how we tend to neglect the business side because it’s “not our thing”, but it must be viewed with the same importance as our craft. If not, it will be very easy to fall victim to the same fate as some of these well-known designers, some whom we admire. Losing a label that you have built with your vision, name and your talent can be soul crushing.
Did you know these designers no longer owned their brands? Share your thoughts below.
If you have a small clothing line or would like to launch your own start up, don’t let this be you. Feel free to send me a message in the box below for more information.