How to Lose Customers and Alienate Yourself

Isabel Marant photographed by Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.

I have a real problem with Isabel Marant and the way she presents herself in the media. Marant has developed quite the cult following in the past few years. Her Parisian collections comprise of beautifully effortless, easy, stylish, entry-level luxury products. But I think she should keep her mouth shut, as the clothes speak for themselves, and the last thing she needs is to damage her otherwise very cool brand by blurting out her stupid “I am not Fashion” statements. She is trying way too hard to be anti-fashion, and I’m finding it irritating to the point that I’m not interested in her clothes anymore.

Isabel Marant Fall Winter 2010 Collection.

Fashionologie posted the following quotes from her:

“I’m quite anti-consumerist; It’s difficult for me being a designer in an industry I don’t like. When I design a collection I find myself thinking, ‘Why do we need new clothes?’ I never think about the fashion people . . . They are not my concern.”

Isabel, let me explain something to you. If the fashion people didn’t like your clothes, and they didn’t talk about you in the press or buy your collections, you wouldn’t have a business. So stop pretending you don’t care, because it is boring to hear about it. And if no one needed new clothes, or wanted new clothes, they you wouldn’t have a business anymore. The only reason you have money, live in a nice apartment, have a job you enjoy, and wear pretty clothes is because people buy YOUR clothes, so perhaps you’d like to acknowledge this, rather than pretend you are too “cool” to look at the facts.

“Big breasts and lips. No! I hate those girls. I hate famous women. My ideal woman is Serge Gainsbourg. Not that he was a woman.”

Isabel, not everyone is blessed with a thin frame and a small chest like the typical French woman. You “hate” people with big breasts? That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it? And you don’t like famous women? I am sure you weren’t complaining when Kate Bosworth and Rachel Bilson helped to take your brand out of Parisian obscurity onto the wish lists of the global fashionistas.

Rachel Bilson in Isabel Marant.

There is nothing I find more irritating the people who are unappreciative of the things or people who helped to make them successful. Isabel Marant recently opened a store in New York City, no thanks to the fact that the celebrities wearing her clothes gave her brand a whole new visibility, and as a result, a brand new customer base. Personally, when I need a grey sweatshirt, I’ll go to COS and get one of theirs, which will have a special cut and a really cool shape, but set me back $75, instead of the $400 Isabel Marant version.

Isabel Marant suede jeans available on Net a Porter for $1,605.

I wrote about her a few months ago and about my irritation at the fact that they made it very difficult for customers to get their hands on product. I agree that it is is great to play “hard to get” as it increases the desirability of a brand. But Marant was just silly with her “no internet” policy (which has since then changed, as she probably realized she was being completely idiotic by not offering her products online.) This article in the New York Times, by Cintra Wilson, explores the fact that the clothes seem to be very overpriced, and over hyped.  Here’s how Wilson describes her first trip into the NYC store:

“What I figured to be platonically ideal Isabel Marant customers were milling around in full force: tall, willowy blondes wearing big mod Army jackets and chunky high heels. I was wearing a boy’s plaid rodeo shirt with snap buttons (eBay, $12), a charcoal-gray Hanes zipper hoodie (Wal-Mart, $12), skinny-legged Levi’s I bought at one of those loud discount places on lower Broadway (under $40) and an old wool Army jacket (eBay, under $20). Coincidentally enough, I looked, in texture, shape and substance, more or less like I got dressed right in the store.”

Isabel Marant Fall Winter 2010 campaign: Kate Moss photographed by Inez van Lamsweerde et Vinoodh Matadin.

I’ll let you all make your own decisions, but personally, when someone insults the industry that she is part of, is thankless of the people or phenomenons that made her famous, behaves like she is too cool to care about her customers, and is downright snobby, I won’t bother throwing my dollars her way. But I don’t think she will be around for that long anyway, my guess is that she will sell her business and get out in the next few years, claiming something like “It all became to commercial for me, and I hated that we were making so much money.” Meanwhile, she will have retired in a trendy apartment in Paris, having made a tidy sum from her clothing business, thanks to the famous women and fashion people who bought her clothes.

Isabel Marant Portrais and FW campign shot from her website.
Catwalk images from Style.com.
Rachel Bilson image source.
Suede jeans from Net a Porter.

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  • KH

    I agree that she's full of crap. I've worn her clothes for a few years, but I can't afford her anymore. What's with the massive price increase? And if she wasn't interested in making a lot of money out of her customers, why hire Alt to raise the profile of the brand and take her mainstream?

  • Chris

    Rebellion sells. famous people 'hate' being famous, rich people 'hate' being rich, educated middle class people wish they had been shoved up a chimney at nine years old and down a mine as soon as they reached puberty. It's just the most tired posturing and contrivance anyone successful in their chosen industry/career can espouse. And the most insulting to those who cannot quite afford the luxury.

  • http://twitter.com/theuntamedhorse theuntamedblog.com

    nice try, Isabel!
    I agree.
    she sounds so ignorant, “Big breasts and lips. No! I hate those girls. I hate famous women. My ideal woman is Serge Gainsbourg. Not that he was a woman.” making blanket statements makes her sound uneducated and definitely like she's trying way too hard to be the rebel here.

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  • http://optioneight.blogspot.com quelle

    wow. i never read any interviews with her and can't say she's been high on my radar but now she's on my BS radar for sure. thanks for the heads up. people like her do not warrant my respect nor hard-earned money.

  • Caroline Gilbey

    Just had a cruise through your latest news and had to comment… It's great to be able to click on and hear the full force of Alex's silver tongued, blunt but always poignant commentary on the world of fashion! How I miss hearing this on a daily basis as I did when I worked with you. I completely agree with everything you say about Isabel Marant's comments. It's so old hat and pretentious to mock the word 'commercial' and all it entails. She sounds a pain in the arse and hopelessly out of touch with the consumerism that she depends on. Yes, she deserved the force of the 'Suhner diatribe' and what's more, it made me laugh out loud! Come back to London soon.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Caroline, thanks for your comments. I can't tell you how much I miss working

    with you, you wouldn't believe some of the bullshit I've been putting up

    with here. Let's just say, I'm not going on any trips to Barcelona with my

    Course Director, spending time on the beach, I mean, doing research! Will

    send you a proper email sometime in the next few weeks.

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