Relocated Designer Labels

Henny Sender and Vanessa Friedman

Just weeks after Mr Obama was inaugurated wearing a Hickey Freeman suit, HMX, the Chicago-based owner of that brand as well as Hart Schaffner Marx among others, filed for bankruptcy protection. After an auction in August last year, Mumbai-based SKNL became the latest Asian group to buy a collection of premier western fashion brands.
In doing so, it joined Megha Mittal, of the Indian Mittal steel dynasty, who last year bought the German luxury brand Escada; Li & Fung of Hong Kong, which two years ago snapped up Hardy Amies, couturier to Britain’s royal family; and Hong Kong-based S.C. Fang & Sons, which bought Pringle of Scotland in 2000.
From individual consumers of luxury goods, the Chinese and Indians have become consumers of luxury companies, in a shift that has far-reaching implications for the $80bn (€63bn, £52bn) a year industry. Many of the recent acquisitions have been driven by a wish to raise production standards in Asia and, in the long term, change a tenet of the luxury industry: the importance of production in “country of origin”. The notion that to merit its price tag, a luxury item must be made in the country where it is designed and where its label was born is on the wane.