Armani - The Revolutionist?
Compared to other fashion houses, Armani is still in its infancy but they still amass revenues of over €2bn.
Enjoyed by a host of celebrities such as Michelle Pfeiffer, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christiano Ronaldo, Rihanna, The Beckhams, Diane Keaton, Cate Blanchett and more, he's credited as being a master of the red carpet with designs that circulate the internet like wildfire.
The story of Armani is a fantastic example of how to completely diversify a brand and still make it work! We aren't talking about glasses and handbags but hotels and restaurants!
What can we attribute to the success of this fashion house? Vision? Chance? Design? Let's start from the beginning.
Giorgio Armani's interest in fashion sparked into life in 1957 whilst studying medicine at the University of Piacenza.
He left university and became a buyer at a clothing chain and worked as a window dresser. His big break came in 1964 when he met Nino Cerruti, the owner of Hitman, a men's clothing line.
Armani was asked to change the company's philosophy of clothing which took six years!
After working freelance, Giorgio started Armani in 1975. Debuting with a menswear collection and female only one year later. They were praised for their natural fit and subtle colours.
Armani Goes Global
Armani truly hit their stride in the '80s when the 'Power Suits' were flying off the rails.
Helped by their frequent appearance in '80s series 'Miami Vice' and film American Gigolo (1980), they achieved an unimaginable amount of interest from business professionals in the US.
This gave Armani an opportunity to go on a mass expansion spree. In the space of 20 years, he was able to expand to:
- Emporio Armani line - aimed at young professionals.
- Armani Jeans - ready-to-wear leather trousers.
- Armani Exchange - youthful fashion line.
- Accessories - eyeglasses, socks etc.
Armani continued to go from strength to strength by expanding into cosmetics, homewares and even opening their own restaurant and a hotel.
Famous Armani Designs
Here's a collection of their most famous designs.
Miami Vice (1980s)
A series renowned for its soundtrack, clothes and the odd bit of violence to solve numerous cases. Miami Vice centred on police cases handled by Sonny Cockett and Ricardo Tubbs which involved drug trafficking and prostitution.
Despite running for five years, the impact of this show is still felt today. Wearing several outfits during the course of just one episode, they were able to influence men's fashion with several looks still rocked today!
The influence of men's fashion was starting to penetrate America and culminated in an explosion of sales.
American Gigolo (1980)
Another masterstroke by Armani. Richard Gere played an emotionally unattached gigolo living lavishly under the eye of Anne but working for Leon!
Events take a turn for the worse when a client ends up dead and Gere is the primary suspect!
A wardrobe designed by Armani, the film was a success for the young Italian fashion brand.
Cate Blanchett (2014)
'Blue Jasmine' was an Oscar-nominated film starring Cate Blanchett who attended the Academy Awards' Award Ceremony in a show-stopping Armani dress.
This cap-sleeve gown is in a flared tulle skirt with crinoline edging. It's adorned in embroidered sequins and Swarovski crystal baguettes.
Anne Hathaway (2009)
Regarded as one of the most memorable Oscar dresses of all time, this strapless gown worn by Anne Hathaway at the 81st Academy Awards was a stunner.
She dazzled in a beige Armani Privé beaded column dress. You'll notice the word 'Privé' which is Armani's attempt at Haute Couture.
After her portrayal in the film 'Wild' earned her a nomination for numerous awards, she wore a dress which summarised her stellar year!
After collaborating with Armani for this bespoke piece, she entered the red carpet at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards with a serene one shoulder gown.
The highlight of the gown was the white beading along the top of the gown which adorns the dress and provided a fantastic glow for the cameras!
So, how did Armani do it? How can we attribute their success or their transformation?
What helped were a series of socio-economic changes in the late '60s which meant that the middle class could no longer afford haute couture but still wanted a quality close to it. Armani went full circle on this and appealed to both markets.
For the men, it was the power suits which they saw on popular shows such as Miami Vice and even Hollywood star Richard Gere in 'American Gigolo'. The provenance was established and it offered wearers the chance to create a new image for themselves.
For the women, Armani was able to create elegantly chic clothing which enabled them to create a new look. The success of this period set the tone for Armani as they expanded like wildfire.
Hotels, restaurants, menswear, womenswear, accessories for all ages has created this new ideology for growing a fashion brand and no one did it like Armani.
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