Branding for fashion? Here’s a resource worth tapping into.

While poking around the BrandWeek web site, I found a series of “Lessons in Branding” from the Fashion Notebook blog. A sample, their latest, is reproduced below.

Product of Steve and Barry’sThere’s a lot of meat here. I’m adding the site to my blogroll even though I do very little in the fashion industry. That’s a world apart from my usual haunts, but in the name of being well-rounded, I offer you Fashion Notebook.

Here’s the sample blog:

“Lessons in Branding: How Steve & Barry’s Does a Lot With a Little”

“OK, so if you haven’t read our news story (you know, that OTHER job we have), about Steve & Barry’s launching a new collection of branded “Sex and the City” t-shirts and tank tops ahead of the year’s least-anticipated and most-loathed premier (to us), check it out here. If you’re link-a-phobic, here’s the brief:
“Further cashing in on the stars of HBO’s hit show Sex and the City, Steve and Barry’s has launched a collection of branded T-shirts and tank tops designed by leading actress Sarah Jessica Parker.

The collection, with all items priced under $9, hit cheap n’ chic retail stores last week, ahead of the May 30 premiere of Sex and the City: The Movie at theaters nationwide. The T-shirts and tank tops come with printed phrases including “I’m with Mr. Big” and “I (Heart) Sex and the City,” as well as images of the characters from the TV series.”

“Millions of women have flocked to our stores since the launch of Sarah Jessica Parker’s Bitten brand last year, and Sex and the City: The Movie merchandise is a perfect complement to that collection,” said Howard Schacter, chief partnership officer at Steve & Barry’s, New York.

“OK, so why does this matter, and why, as we contend in the headline to this post, do we see it as a brilliant example of doing “a lot with a little.” Well, pretty much, it’s because Steve & Barry’s is likely to get a groundswell from this, selling not only these t-shirts, but also more items from the “Bitten” collection that the retailer trotted out from Sarah Jessica Parker (she of the Skeletor visage, pictured left, in that show that proffers female empowerment but really ends up, sing it with us Obama, “more of the same,” in our humble opinion, and that of others) last year. And better yet, they’ll do it—again—with barely a cent spent on advertising.

“This isn’t a groundbreaking marketing idea—big film coming up, you’ve already got a product tie-in to one of the characters, so plug her again and ride the film’s publicity and boon in related Internet searches to see the sales needle get a lift—so why aren’t more people doing it?
“Well, the answer to that might be that they’re just too damn rich. And that’s not a slight.

“Think about it. When we’re flush, it’s all dinners at BLT Prime and brunch at Essex, but when we’re broke, it’s poulet roti chez nous with rosemary and other fresh herbs, that serves two and, we dare say, tastes just as good as the same dish at either of those tony joints. Leftovers are broken down into chicken salad, the bones boiled into a chicken soup. And presto! We’ve got lunch for days. And for about half the cost of a porterhouse at BLT. Sure, we definitely got way more out of cooking the chicken at home and getting creative with stretching the meals, but that’s because we had to. And once our coffers are full again, you’d better believe we’ll redefine dinner—like retailers and apparel companies define a “launch”—as a strictly Tourondel affair. N’est ce-pas?

“So what if the big agencies and brands just starved their budgets on a few projects and saw where it went? Listen, we’re not saying that Nike should book Sharapova for a tennis commercial and then forego a TV spot, but maybe test out an anemic cash flow on a smaller project and see what the creatives come up with. You never know where the results might lead. Maybe even straight to sales.

“Stay tuned to see how well the “Sex and the City” tops do. You know we are.”

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