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This morning I popped by Bryant Park to catch the runway show of BCBG Max Azria, part of the bi-annual Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week line-up. Why this show? The company, which saw $465.8 million in sales last year, consistently experiments with its business strategies, so I wanted to get a glimpse at its forthcoming Spring/Summer 2008 collection to better understand its brand.
BCBG is one label in the BCBG Max Azria Group. The company launched 18 years ago, and has multiple lines at various price points. Although the label is known for offering stylish, European-chic clothes at affordable prices, it attracts wealthy clientele, fashion elite, and celebrities, as well as average shoppers. (Put it this way, Donald Trump, Jr. and his wife were sitting next to the renowned fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier in the front row today; across the runway, several young starlets were being hunted down by paparazzi and the TV gossip show Extra.) And while the clothes might seem less than wildly adventurous but perfectly elegant – the new collection was all about flowy, below-the-knee white dresses cinched with brown belts, with some architecturally pleated tops and bustiers thrown in – the company is quite imaginative, business-wise.
For example, in 2004, BCBG Max Azria Group received $53 million in a deal with New York Life Investment Management that collateralized BCBG’s intellectual property assets – in a move similar to rock star David Bowie’s collateralization of his intangible intellectual property assets in 1997. It was a creative way of raising capital for a fashion company, at a time when even the most glamorous designers struggle with finding fresh ways to find funding. (Think of the recent turmoils of fashion-world darling Narciso Rodriguez, for example, whose business was acquired by Liz Claiborne when he was on the brink of bankruptcy this year).
More recently, the BCBG Max Azria Group asked artists to play with its BCBG logo, and sponsored a party showcasing the designs this summer, along with the prestigious Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The paintings are on view at various BCBG freestanding stores, and represents both an innovative way to solicit fresh graphic design – from painters, rather than designers – as well as a way to, well, paint the company one that values creativity.
These are just a couple of intriguing and innovative tactics that BCBG Group has tried out. Curious to see what else the company has in store.
What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.