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Fashion Diary: Is Bravo TV the next big fashion brand?

June 10, 2009 | 10:45 am

Gossip, first impressions, trends in the making, celebrities and style setters. A regular feature by fashion critic Booth Moore.

I'm doing research for a series on the future of fashion and was interested to hear that Bravo is now expanding into the fashion retail space like never before, by launching co-branded handbags with Kooba that will be featured in the upcoming series "NYC Prep," debuting June 23. Bravo Logan

It's a new step for the network, Jennifer Turner, Bravo and Oxygen Media's VP of Licensing and Strategic Partnerships, told me on the phone this morning. "It’s our first foray into the area of fashion, in creating the Fashion by Bravo brand, and Kooba was the perfect partner to gain legitimacy and offer something special." The bags, labeled "Kooba Exclusively for Fashion by Bravo," will be sold for $595 at Bravotv.com and Kooba.com. (Other partnerships will follow in the fashion and food categories, Turner said.) (Note: An earlier version of this post said the bags were labeled "Kooba for Fashion by Bravo.")

It's also a giant leap from how fashion on TV has been merchandised before, which was largely through low-budget websites that directed viewers to stores where they could find the pajamas Debra Messing wore on "Will and Grace," for example. "Sex and the City" the movie did a few fashion merchandise tie-ins (I'm remembering lingerie), but I imagine those would have been more successful on a TV show, which has more frequency.

Back when "Project Runway" was on the network, you'll remember that the season's winning designs were offered for sale at Banana Republic and online. For "Project Runway" copycat "The Fashion Show," winning designs are offered on Bravotv.com every week, shipped with a designer card and styling tips. Turner wouldn't say how many pieces are manufactured, only that they have been selling well.

"You watch the show, see the drama of making the winning design, and once it’s been chosen how fantastic that you can go to Bravotv.com and buy it?" Turner said. "It satisfies the consumer need for instant gratification."

Smart. And how will this affect the future of fashion, I wonder?

"By Bravo moving into the fashion space and creating these products, essentially we now have a marriage of two businesses, the media and TV businesses and the fashion retail business," Turner said. "Those are two different business models and timelines. I don’t think we can have the fashion industry change how they are doing things, but as we try to become more experienced and branch out into fashion, it will require more of a collaboration and meshing of how those businesses work."

Bingo. Instant gratification is something the fashion industry must grapple with soon, in order to keep up with the speed with which information gets out about what's coming down the runway, and shoppers' evolving expectations. The six-month lag time from runway to store just isn't going to cut it anymore. 

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