Armani pins hope on the designer T-shirt

GIORGIO ARMANI, the Italian designer, opens an Emporio store in central London tomorrow at a time of uncertainty in the fashion industry about the future of the 'designer' market.

The fear is that consumers are no longer excited by the allure of designer brands. The problem has been further exacerbated by recessionary pressures on both sides of the Atlantic.

However, Mr Armani believes he has found a means for designers to continue to prosper in the Nineties. The Emporio Armani chain, which now includes four shops in the UK and 109 worldwide, is bringing a designer fashion brand to a wider public.

By high street standards prices at Emporio Armani are still high. The new shop in Covent Garden, which is the designer's fourth in Britain, sells women's jackets for pounds 300 and jeans for pounds 80. But these prices compare favourably with Mr Armani's main collection, where a jacket sells for pounds 650.

Launched in Milan in the Eighties, Emporio Armani's turnover is pounds 110m, out of total group sales of pounds 340m.

Perfume sales also contribute heavily to group turnover, reaching pounds 60m in 1991. The designer launches a new fragrance in Britain next month called Gio

In the United States Mr Armani has broadened his appeal still further with the launch of A/X: Armani Exchange, a new chain of stores that sells jeans and casual clothes at prices similar to The Gap. Most clothes are under the dollars 100 ( pounds 52) mark.

The irony is that the man who made the pounds 600 power suit a symbol of Eighties' affluence is now banking on jeans and T-shirts as the staples of the Nineties.

Since the launch of A/X last December, Mr Armani has opened 21 stores in the US. Another eight follow next month. Industry sources say the A/X formula could eventually be introduced to Europe.

Fellow designers in Italy, France, the UK, and the US are following a similar strategy. British designers, including Paul Smith and John Richmond, have launched jeans collections within the last 18 months.

Fashion designers are paying closer attention to the needs of their customers. Mr Armani said: 'The consumer dictates. Designers cannot simply make anything and assume it will sell. They have to have a complete respect for the balance between quality and price.'

The feeling in the trade is that designers' signature collections may soon become as rarefied as made-to-measure or couture collections: drumming up useful media coverage but bought by increasingly few customers.

Mr Armani made it clear yesterday that he wanted no more than one store in each big city to sell his top-priced collection.

The risk for designers is that they cheapen their name by producing too many lower-priced collections.

When Emporio Armani and Armani Jeans were first launched in 1981, Mr Armani's strategy drew criticism within the industry.

The upmarket appeal of his brand, however, was unaffected.

Other designers who have courted a wider market, particularly Pierre Cardin, have been less successful at maintaining their image of exclusivity.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee