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Fashion nerds everywhere flipped with the announcement that Hedi Slimane was not only changing the ready-to-wear label's name from Yves Saint Laurent to Saint Laurent Paris, but also moving the design HQ from Paris to LA—a change that has proven more divisive than the entire season's worth of Girls episodes combined. The folks over at Business of Fashion have polled a handful of fashion industry folks for their opinions. Below, who's pro, who's con, and why.
Pro: Hedi Slimane (duh). In order to respect the house's "original principles and ideals," according to Silmane he is simply "restoring the house to its truth, purity, and essence — and taking it into a new era.” That means he's using some of the fonts and "nomenclature" of the brand from 50 years ago—and generating hype for his next collection.
Pro: Pierre Bergé. Bergé, who founded the company with Yves Saint Laurent in 1961, told WWD, "I'm very happy. Anything that makes the house more Saint Laurent is welcome."
Anti: Branding experts Some people who make it their business to know branding say the problem is that most shoppers of today, or at least the young folks charged with generating brand excitement, don't remember 1966 when the brand was one of the first to launch ready-to-wear. Speaking to that issue, Sara Rotman, founder of MODCo Creative, an agency specializing in brand development for fashion companies, told BoF, “There are very few genuine maisons who can claim the lineage, history and parenthood that YSL can claim — and to literally toss that out is not only blasphemy, but it also completely misunderstands the incredible value that the brand intrinsically holds—a value that goes far beyond any single designer at the helm."
Pro: Other branding experts Mary Ellen Muckerman, head of strategy at Wolff Olins, a global branding consultancy, echos Slimane's reasoning with some additional technical terminology: "From a branding perspective, I don't believe there is a downside to Slimane's decision. The new name signals that change is ahead at Yves Saint Laurent and it provides a platform for the brand to communicate their new vision to followers [...] This is an opportunity for them to strengthen their heritage while building anticipation for Slimane's debut collection for the Spring 2013 season."
So to sum up: the pros are hype, energizing the brand, and that Slimane gets to make a name for himself. And the cons are possibly alienating customers and complete and utter destruction of the house YSL helped build. With this much at stake, one thing is for sure: Everyone will be watching come Paris Fashion Week this September.