A few weeks ago, Chanel announced its recent acquisition of the former villa of their founder, next to Cap Martin, where Coco had been known to host icons such as Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali… The storytelling has been set in motion, and we can already imagine that this place will welcome fashion shows and expositions dedicated to the brand. Even if they refute wanting to use it for marketing-related purpose… Lancel, a brand founded in 1876, is also in the midst of reappropriating their identity. Their company has realized that their image is too confined to the world of handbags. They have begun to buy back objects coming from their historic collections, so they can explore their past and redefine their positioning.
The appeal of luxury brands lies in their ability to spark imaginations. Therefore, we understand what would motivate a luxury brand to want to reclaim, preserve and grow everything that links itself to the past. The construction of a strong identity is rooted in the past, because it allows a brand to assert its special qualities and affirm its values.
Barring a few exceptions that show a conscious effort to turn more towards the future (Saint Laurent, Prada), the majority of luxury actors are pursuing the same goal of reclaiming the past to the point of almost imagining a new occupation, “Brand Heritage Manager” situated at the intersection of artistic and marketing management, whose mission is to valorize the history of the company. As proof: the abundance of expositions dedicated to fashion and to their designers (Jean Paul Gaultier, Lanvin, Karl Lagerfeld to only name the three most recent) and the recent creation of a master public history of companies and institutions at the University of Paris-Est Créteil Val-de-Marne, in order to train these historians in a new domain.
Why should this approach just be limited to the luxury sector? Certain brands of consumer goods can just as well initiate this valorization of the past that accompanied the everyday life of several generations and also, more than just luxury brands, marked the psyche of millions of people.