Together with Gucci and Armani, Chanel is amongst the most cited and loved brands on social media, which are now the mirror of all international trends. This was revealed in the Report on the digital reputation of luxury brands by Comin & Partners, strategic communication and international relations consultancy agency for the period October 2021 – March 2022. And we are talking about a brand born in 1909, more than a century ago. It is worthwhile to understand the storey of this success, which is intimately linked to that of its founder, Coco Chanel. What has led her to become a style ikon over time, and what can we learn from her path?
Coco Chanel: how her success was born
Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, this is her real name, was born in a hospice for the poor and spent many years in an orphanage run by nuns. It was here, that from an early age, she started cooking with the fabrics of the nuns, which inspired her love for black and white and the sense of austerity and essentiality. Even though her first job is related to clothing, she becomes a clerk in a linen and knitwear shop until she, at 21, moves to her lover Etienne de Balsan. Only in 1909 did she create her first caps, completely different from the fashion of the time. She abandons structures, heavy ribbons, and bows in favour of a simplicity that particularly gives femininity. When a friend of de Balsan’s shows off her creation, her success is immediate with the ladies of Paris. Chanel’s lesson: it is important to know in depth the value of what you are selling. If you offer cosmetics, you must personally try the formulae and notice the differences, without being influenced only by what is already on the market. An example is the success of solid shampoo, which was almost unthinkable until a few years ago and is now more and more widespread.
Coco Chanel: the choices that made her famous
In 1910 Coco Chanel opened her first shop and chose to use very few colours, still today bastions of elegance: white, black, beige, grey, and navy blue. When she opens the second shop in Deauville, on the sea, she is inspired by her life around her and in particular by the clothing of the sailors to create essential and refined dresses and sweaters with characteristic stripes on a light background. Coco decides to also use jerseys, at the time only used for linen, creating garments that combine refinement and unprecedented comfort. “Because an active woman”, said the designer, “she needs to feel comfortable in her dress, and true elegance cannot be separated from the full possibility of free movement”. Chanel’s lesson: it is good to study the needs of the potential customer and only then find innovative solutions.
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Coco Chanel: storytelling that lasts over time
The story of Coco Chanel is truly extraordinary, but the strength of the brand lies in having made it known to the whole world. Not only thru advertizing, which often retraced the most important stages of the creations, but also thru other artistic expressions such as films and documentaries. The character of Coco, played by Audrey Tatou, Shirley Maclaine, and Keira Knightley, was thus known not only by a large number of people but above all by many young people. Generational change is one of the fundamental nodes for every brand, in particular when it concerns fashion and trends. Chanel’s lesson: tell your story, highlight the most exciting details, and use iconic products, as Chanel did with the petite robe noir, the little black dress that has become a symbol of timeless feminine elegance.
Coco Chanel: the distinctive signs
The Chanel brand has the merit of having always treasured its origins, starting with the brand. The logo with the two intertwined Cs is the monogram of the founder, created by herself in 1925, and is also today a recognisable ikon all over the world, one of the brands that suffer the most imitations precisely because they are so loved, but with prohibitive costs. An example? The small Gabrielle Chanel bag costs around 6,000 euros. But on the site, there are bags with “price on demand”, probably so high that it can’t even be revealed! Another distinctive sign is the idea of ??numbers for perfumes. Chanel N.5 is one of the first perfumes obtained from synthetic molecules, not from natural essences like those of flowers, and it is so-called because Coco Chanel chose the number 5 amongst the essences on the test. Chanel’s lesson: maintain your personality over time, because over the years your brand will be a certainty for the public. A lesson that various brands have made their own.