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I don't think any of us can truly argue the fashion genius that was Coco Chanel. The woman revolutionized the color black, silhouettes and pants. Without her will to dare against the fashion of the time and to do it with precision and ultimately profitability, who knows where women's fashion would be today.
Over the decades, her brand has come to be known as the chicest of the luxury behemoths, pulling in creative talent from all corners of the globe. One designer in particular whose cat has even begun to share in his fame. And while Chanel has always been known, from the get go, as the fashion brand taking the road less traveled, their absence from the e-commerce world has left many an online customer baffled, albeit frustrated.
In an interview with the Business of Fashion, Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel's President of Global Fashion, addressed the company's attitude towards the web and why it simply doesn't provide Chanel's customers the proper feeling and voice.
"It’s a strategic choice. It’s a choice to say, ‘Guys, you can see whatever you want on the Internet, but we want you to come to the boutique, because we feel that in the boutique we can give you the right understanding of the brand.' It’s not the kind of service that we want to give to our customers — at the moment."
Touché Chanel. Blaming your unending desire to make sure we, the customers, properly understand your brand is honorable, but isn't it a little misleading to claim Chanel as a boutique? Certainly a smaller store front, and a lack of an online presence (unless you are on Shoptiques!) qualify as boutique behavior, but acquiring other luxury brands, being able to command the attention and adoration of fans through insanely expensive advertising, that is not "boutique."
Personalized service is certainly one aspect of a boutique experience, but the other is the locality of it, the small business portion of it, the getting to know the designers and the owners as neighborhood faces and friends. Karl Lagerfeld, I feel it is correct to assume, cares much more for his cat than for the faces of the women for whom he designs, unless her name is Karlie Kloss or Choupette. And that is decidedly not boutique behavior.
Alas, as the real boutiques of the world scramble to catch up to the e-commerce ways of the fashion giants, at least there is one luxury brand refusing to let go of it's boutique roots - and they are succeeding in their adorners' eyes for it. Looks like even to the behemoths, us small guys still have something special that the bigger stores had to sacrifice long ago.