Today, the ready-to-wear segment of luxury brands in growing globally in general and in many Asian nations such as Taiwan in particular. To determine the current state of affairs and the potential for the future in this sector, this paper provides a definition of the context of designer ready-to-wear, including a discussion concerning how it works in the fashion industry and what brands exist in this area. In addition, an examination of how stores are designed to attract the target customers for this sector including three major luxury ready-to-wear designer brands in Taiwan is followed by an analysis of representative advertisement and branding initiatives for these brands and Taiwanese consumer attitudes concerning these brands. Finally, an assessment concerning the target market for the ready-to-wear luxury fashion industry in Taiwan, including relevant demographics and current consumer preferences, is followed by a summary of the research and important findings concerning the ready-to-wear fashion industry in Taiwan in the conclusion.
Review and Analysis
Context of Designer Ready-to-Wear Market
The ready-to-wear luxury fashion industry is unique because it depends on marketing and promotion to sell products to a specific target market (Nguyen, 2004). Because of the highly guarded proprietary nature of the ready-to-wear luxury goods industry today, it is likewise difficult to locate relevant and timely information (Nguyen, 2004). Despite these constraints, what is known for certain is that the ready-to-wear luxury goods industry is "Very fascinating and the products themselves signify prestige and status. The apparel industry exists in a very competitive environment where companies need to adopt new technologies in order to improve profitability and lower costs" (Nguyen, 2004, para. 3). In some cases, companies competing in this industry are able to operate as both manufacturers at the wholesale level as well as retailers, or as both (Nguyen, 2004). In this regard, Nguyen adds that, "An example of this is the Gap Corporation who manufactures their own products to sell in their stores. Apparel manufacturers have the option of selling their products under their own label or under private-labels" (2004, para. 4).
At the global level, the context of the ready-to-wear luxury fashion industry involves an intricate international network of companies that transcends national boundaries based on design appeal but for production and dissemination as well (Hayes, 2009). When ready-to-wear luxury fashions are produced and disseminated at the global level, the process involves actual sellers as well as symbolic actors including the media (Hayes, 2009). According to Hayes, "As society changed over time, and fashion gradually infiltrated all classes, designers became arbiters of personal style" (2009, p. 62). This assertion appears hyperbolic until recent trends in this industry are taken into account, since global ready-to-wear luxury fashion represents a multi-billion dollar industry (Hayes, 2009).
The history of the ready-to-wear luxury fashion industry dates to the 1960s when Italian and French haute couture companies developed their local boutique industry into a global industry (D'Aveni, 2010). According to D'Aveni, "Seeking a broader market, these houses created ready-to-wear fashions at high prices, positioned slightly lower than their haute couture lines" (2010, p. 37). Over the next 2 decades, ready-to-wear luxury fashion became the focus of modern production methods and the industry was transformed (D'Aveni, 2010). By the early 1990s, haute couture designers had expanded their upper-middle price range so-called "diffusion brands" that broadened their markets and image (D'Aveni, 2010). In this regard, D'Aveni reports that, "Dolce & Gabbana launched D&G, Calvin Klein launched CK, and Georgio Armani launched Emporio Armani and Armani Exchange to capture different upper mid-market segments. Likewise, Versace created Versus, while Prada spawned Miu" (2010, p. 37).
Fashion designers started the practice of licensing their brand names to clothing producers that would contract with their own designers to produce designer labels such as Gloria Vanderbilt and Oleg Cassini (Rosen, 2002). According to Rosen, "This new approach lent itself to the production of clothing for the high end of the clothing market to the low end. As the number of women in professional and managerial occupations increased, they needed wardrobes that would permit them to 'dress for success'" (2002, p. 182). In addition, designers from the United States such as Liz Claiborne jumped on the fashion bandwagon and this company and others were churning out high-quality ready-to-wear luxury fashions for Asian countries such as Taiwan (Rosen, 2002).