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The fashion industry is certainly believed to be a product of the contemporary age. This is evidenced by the fact that before the 19th century, the majority of clothes were made customary, either handmade by persons at home or ordered from tailors and dressmakers (Cumming, 2004). Nevertheless, the commencement of the 20th century was characterized by the rise of novel and improved technologies, including global capitalism, sewing machine, the creation of retail outlets, namely departmental stores, and the growth of the factory system, which resulted in mass production of clothing (Cumming, 2004). America and Europe were the first countries to establish the fashion industry. It has recently become a global and highly globalized industry. The fashion industry comprises various levels, which include the generation of raw materials, primarily textiles and fibers, the generation of fashion goods by manufacturers, designers among others, retail selling, and promotion and advertising (Cumming, 2004).
Various designers have recently emerged and made the fashion industry very fashionable. In addition to improving the industry, this has met the needs of those persons, who have an increasing speedy modification in clothing styles. One such designer is Isabel Marant. Marant is a French designer, who takes up the globe of fashion by storm and has been swayed by ethnic influences, tactile fabrics and slouchy shapes. She offers a diffusion of such products, which are very affordable and casual. This report focuses on Isabel Marant’s diffusion to men’s wear line and considers various back-office functions deemed important, since their working together makes certain that the business delivers a competitive advantage. A new brand is aimed for young men, who are conscious of their clothing and who want to purchase elegant clothing, which will set them apart from the crowd. This advantage is certainly attained by making sure that the brand’s personality, infrastructures and operational activities work effectively and have a capacity of reacting to highly modifying clients’ demands placed on the contemporary business.
The Business Benefit to Fashion Brands by Defining Brand Personalities and Organized Value Chains
It is apparent that a company’s brand is a major basis of competitive advantage. As a result, enhancing the competitive advantage of the brand implies improving the general competitiveness of a significant business tool. One of the aspects of improving the brand’s competitive advantage includes improving its personality. Brand personality refers to the manner, in which a brand behaves and speaks. In other words, it implies assigning human characteristics or personality traits to a brand with an aim of attaining differentiation (Levy and Weitz, 1995). These traits are a sign of brand’s behavior via persons representing it, who are employees, and through packaging and advertising. Brand personality is an expression of brand identity or brand image in terms of human characteristics. The brand of Isabel Marant wears addresses the personality, making those persons, who wear them (men in this case) stand apart from other persons in the crowd. Isabel Marant menswear line should represent value, uniqueness and intellectualism. Brand personality is simply the personification of a particular brand and it is a result of the entire long-lasting and unique experience of customers with the brand.
In addition, to be successful in this 21st century, businesses require managing cautiously their brand personality, especially corporate brand personality. Corporate brand personality is a kind of brand personality, which is particular to a corporate brand, and defines what a firm is and how it represents itself to clients (Levy and Weitz, 1995). The corporate brand personality of Isabel Marant wear line usually mirrors corporate values held by the company. For instance, one of the company’s core values includes environmental stewardship, and as a result, such attributes as caring and responsibility for the environment are mirrored by brand personality traits. This implies that corporate values are responsible for shaping a corporate brand personality.
Isabel Marant menswear line should be elegant and classic. In fact, the research has revealed that some women purchase boyfriend-type clothing or menswear as a result of powerful marketing strategies employed by companies, and this is no exception for Isabel Marant menswear. According to Marant, any kind of clothing should make persons feel good, and as a result, urges individuals to go for clothing they like. Individuals wear specific type of clothing, because it fits them comfortably, and it is trendy and figure flattering.
Organized Value Chains
A value chain is a chain of activities for a company that operates in a certain industry (McGuffog, 2009). A suitable level for constructing a value chain is a business unit. Generally, products go through various activities, and at each level, a product gets some value (McGuffog, 2009). Various requirements of a value chain include modifications in company’s processes, collaboration and coordination, committed leaders and managers, the investment in information technology, flexible and adaptable jobs, a supportive company attitudes and culture, and capable employees. The efficient integration of these requirements into a value chain will ensure that the products generated are of the total value, since each requirement will add extra value to the product.
The fashion industry is described as a customer-driven value chain, which comprises various individuals, including manufacturers, retailers and marketers. Since the fashion industry becomes international and its competition has been increasing, companies have established extensive sourcing capacities, creating their activities in market segments and high-value plus designs of a value chain. This results in the realignment of opportunities, interests and shaping of boundaries in a chain (Cumming, 2004).
Value chain management (VCM) is a factor that is very vital in all industries, including the fashion industry. VCM is delineated as the incorporation of all resources beginning from the vendor (McGuffog, 2009). Value chain management incorporates material, information, facilities, labour and logistics into a capacity-managed and time-responsive solution, which minimizes wastes and financial resources. This means that effective and efficient value chain management maximizes customer’s value. In Isabel Marant’s Company under analysis, the management of the value chain has enabled the company to emerge successful in the fashion industry, and above all, compete efficiently in the industry.
Internal Analysis: Management Styles Followed in the Company
It is true that appropriate management styles contribute to the sustained growth of any company. This is because they assist in solving various problems in the company, develop staff loyalty and satisfaction, and amplify productivity (Asma, 2010). Ultimately, the company benefits from its contented clienteles and increased returns on investments. There are various management styles that can be employed by organizations and studies, which have proven that companies should be very cautious adopting management styles. Such management styles encompass paternalistic, autocratic and democratic (Asma, 2010). In Isabel Marant’s Company, the type of management style employed is a paternalistic one. In this case, managers are concerned with recreational and social needs of the staff whilst making decisions. Managers usually give directions to the staff making certain that the information flow is efficient from top to bottom. The application of this management style in the company has assisted in maintaining the morale of employees, which has made them focus on enhancing the company’s productivity. The advantages of this management style are that employees are motivated by two-way communication, and furthermore, the staff feel that their social requirements are met (Asma, 2010). Apparently, the company has been able to emerge successfully in the market because of its well-designed clothing made by employees.
How the Current Retail Organizational Structure Serves the Needs of the Organization, with Reference to the Issues of Direction and. Control
An organizational structure comprises various activities, including coordination and supervision, and the allocation of duties directed towards attaining the goals of an organization (Jacobides, 2007). Companies may be structured in various ways, although this depends on their goals. Generally, organizational structures establish a mode, in which a company performs and operates, and besides, permits the allocation of roles for various processes and functions of a range of entities, including a department, an individual, a branch and a workgroup (Jacobides, 2007).
Through a retail organizational structure, the Isabel Marant Company can determine those persons, who are delegated with the duties of direction and control. These roles are certainly left in the hands of the management and it is obvious that its performance usually shapes actions of the company. Direction and control are major responsibilities, especially in the fashion industry, and proper performance of the duty results in the success of an organization. Direction and control in this aspect refer to the management of resources, making decisions and analyzing information (Cumming, 2004). Apparently, proper management skills are required in this case. In the Isabel Marant Company, managers possess efficient skills, which allow them to perform the roles of control and direction efficiently. This has contributed to employees’ motivation, learning and innovation, which in turn have promoted the success of the company in terms of both productivity and profitability.
A Review of the Buying and Merchandising Functions as Primary Activities of a Fashion Brand through the Creation of a Range Plan and a Supporting Merchandise Plan
The fashion merchandising function encompasses crafting an optimistic client’s experience. Obviously, merchandisers in a fashion brand usually choose what kinds of products to sell, and how such products will be exhibited in the stores with a client-centered approach (Levy and Weitz, 1995). Indeed, merchandisers have knowledge that product’s presentation is very essential, since the attention of customers to a certain product is normally triggered by a combination of various aspects or products. For instance, pairing a sweater with a pair of jeans, a right belt and some marvelous shoes makes it a hot item. Clients are subtly inspired by fashion merchandising professionals and want to see options in their products.
On the other hand, the fashion-buying function is deemed to be a more multifaceted than just shopping. The research has pointed out that fashion purchasers are required to be conscious of the degree of trends, and in fact, they have to look forward to the trend of styles and the aspects that will get a picture with the clientele (Levy and Weitz, 1995). It is true that not each novel style will succeed in the market, and as a result, fashion buyers should make decisions what to put up for sale based on their awareness of customer psychology, the history of fashion and market trends. The buying and merchandising functions usually complement one another to create a balanced and relevant product offer. For a merchandize and range plan see Table 1.
Table 1. Merchandise Plan
The Supply Base of the Existing Brand, and Assessing whether the Existing Supply Chain Serves the Needs and Buying Strategy of the Brand and Customers’ Needs
A supply chain connects upstream suppliers, manufacturers and downstream distributors (Wieland and Wallenburg, 2011). A supply chain can be defined as a system of technology, organizations, activities, people, resources and information, engaged in moving a service or a product from the supplier to the customer (Wieland and Wallenburg, 2011). As it has been pointed out above, value chain management is very essential for any company, as far as it performs one of the major functions of managing the entire connection of supply chains in the most effective manner. In the Isabel Marant Company, raw materials are transformed into finished products. These products are passed on to wholesalers and retailers to be available to the end users (customers). Isabel Marant has an array of stores with bags, garment designs, accessories and footwear for women. Besides, various wholesaler shops and retail stores in various parts of the world, France and the United States sell Isabel Marant brand. The company’s supply base looks like this:
However, the company has gone online, which means that customers can obtain products online. Clients can choose products, since the company has posted them online for customers to see. In the contemporary society, operating online is deemed to be very beneficial, since most persons, especially the target market of Isabel Marant brand, have subscribed online to various social sites. This implies that the possibility for the company to reach its target customers is very high.
Apparently, the existing supply chain serves the needs and buying strategy of the proposed diffusion brand, and more importantly, the needs of consumers. Apparently, selling the proposed menswear products using the same supply chain will turn out to be successful for the company. Furthermore, the needs of customers will be efficiently met, since they will be able to obtain products with ease and know a type of products offered and where to obtain them. This is considered as the most essential factor for any organization. According to the research, it has led to the success of many companies.
Global Distribution Strategy
In a dynamic and highly evolving market, there has been a greater need to keep the current distribution strategies used by organizations. The management of social, political and economic impacts and supply chains during decision-making by retailers and producers, and the efficiency of the implementation of strategies are vital to a competitive advantage (Levy and Weitz, 1995). This implies that product-centered companies should establish the most suitable distribution strategy, since this will ensure success through profits and sales maximization. Therefore, a distribution network that focuses on what, who, when and where and the availability of middlemen, who act as intermediaries between an organization and clients by carrying out important service activities, should be established.
In our case, the global distribution strategy is determined by a type and the number of client interfaces, and in particular, entry points of orders and fulfillment nodes. The best global strategy, which can be used in this case, is an intermediated distribution, which involves aggregators carrying products from suppliers and distributing them to target clients (Levy and Weitz, 1995). To be precise, aggregators, including remote access, entail the submission of an order via the Internet, telephone or e-mail to a centralized location with shipments made by clients on a specific site from specific distribution centers. Through this, the company will be able to channel its goods to its customers and other businesses, which are its customers.
Impacts of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on the Supply Chain Strategy and on the Buying and Merchandising Functions
The corporate social responsibility is a kind of corporate self-regulation incorporated into business models (Marsha, 2011). The policy of the corporate social responsibility operates as a self-regulating and in-built mechanism, which monitors and makes certain that a business complies with norms and ethical standards. The main objective of the corporate social responsibility is to embrace the accountability for actions of a company and to promote a positive effect through its various activities on employees, environment, consumers, stakeholders and the community in general (Marsha, 2011).
It is true that the corporate social responsibility concerns understanding the effects of a company on the wider society and using such effects in a positive manner. Apparently, skills and knowledge of the corporate social responsibility are required for merchandising and buying functions and the supply chain strategy for fashion brands (Marsha, 2011). For instance, corporate social responsibility programs may be implemented to allow merchandisers in the fashion brand to choose which kinds of products to sell, and how such products will be exhibited in the stores with a client-centered approach. Besides, fashion buyers will be guided in making decisions regarding what to put up for sale, based on their awareness of the psychology of customers, the history of fashion and market trends. Buying and merchandising functions usually complement one another to create a balanced and relevant product offer. In addition, a proper supply chain strategy is very essential to ensure that products pass through recommended stages from the production to the distribution of goods to the end customer. In this case, the corporate social responsibility will be employed to ensure that the best supply chain strategy is employed to make the diffusion brand of Isabel Marant successful in the market.
Visual Merchandising Function and Its Role in Driving a Competitive Advantage for a New Diffusion Brand
Visual merchandizing is a function, which encompasses developing three-dimensional displays and floor plans with an aim of maximizing sales (Levy and Weitz, 1995). Products may be displayed to draw attention to their benefits and features. A new diffusion brand may be displayed in such a way that it greatly draws attention of consumers. In this case, the aim will be to attract, motivate and engage clients in purchasing the product. Visual merchandizing will make it simple for clients to locate the preferred category, self-select and coordinate (Levy and Weitz, 1995). In the creation of displays, visual merchandisers make use of lighting, color, product information, space and technologies, including interactive installations and digital displays. A new diffusion brand is window-displayed, since this will assist in communicating style, price and content. Certainly, these factors will assist in driving the competitive advantage of a new diffusion brand, since customers will be conversant with various characteristics of the product, increasing a possibility of purchase.
How the Human Resource Strategy Followed by the Company Contributes to the Success of the Merchandising and Buying Strategies
The human resource strategy is certainly the main factor that influences the success of any organization. The research has proved that in order to be successful in the market, companies necessitate having a proper HR strategy, which will ensure that such roles as employee training, motivation, performance measurement, recruitment and selection are carried out efficiently (Nankervis, et al., 2011). In the Isabel Marant Company, there is an efficient HR strategy, which has seen the success of the company. For instance, the company understands that motivating employees is an essential factor that will lead to success. In this case, employees are motivated through proper training that will enable them to meet their objectives. Training entails undertaking the evaluation and improvement of employee development plans, which assist in aligning the staff development and the organizational development. The studies have proven that real benefits result from aligning the development of employees’ skills with organizational goals and objectives and attaining a sustainable learning organization and a continuous improvement culture. Employees are also motivated by proper rewards, efficient communication and listening.
Isabel Marant selects and recruits new personnel to attain the company’s strategic direction, and moreover, those who demonstrate suitable characteristics, consistent with the culture and directions of the organization. The selection and recruitment of employees by the company abides by legal requirements, affirmative action, equal opportunity and human resource management policies, principles and guidelines adopted by Isabel Marant. Doing so, the company can employ right persons with the required skills and capabilities and who add success of the company.
In conclusion, it is apparent from the analysis stated above, that the new diffusion brand of the Isabel Marant Company can be successful, only when target customers are chosen efficiently, and when various back office functions are integrated efficiently to ensure that the business delivers a competitive advantage. Certainly, through the development of brand personality, organized supply chains, proper management styles, the right global distribution strategy, the visual merchandising function, considering the impacts of corporate social responsibility, and the human resource strategy, which encompasses such factors as selection and recruitment, motivation, and training, will lead to the success of the new brand in the market. This is based on the fact that the brand will be able to gain a competitive advantage, and thus, it will set itself apart from other products.
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