YSL: Interactive experimentation

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For years now, the Yves Saint-Laurent brand has been a drag on the otherwise strong results posted by many other fashion brands in the Gucci Group, owned by parent-company PPR. Most recently, Bottega Veneta has been on a tear with strong financial results (eclipsing YSL’s top line revenue in 2006) and a leading position in the luxury consumer league tables, making it the number two luxury brand in PPR’s stable.

The story for YSL is a lot less fairytale, and a lot more Nightmare on Elm Street. The brand has not been profitable since Gucci Group purchased it in 1999 and is still reportedly losing around €50m a year. The brand turned over €194m in sales in 2006. PPR doesn’t break out operating loss of YSL its website and has not provided a timeframe to investors for expected profitability.

Gisele_ysl It’s not surprising then that Stefano Pilati, YSL’s Creative Director, has been trying to inject new energy into this legendary brand. The latest initiative is an innovative project with Nick Knight’s Showstudio. According to WWD, Showstudio has received over 200 submissions of script ideas for a photoshoot to be held this Sunday, featuring the new "seasonless" Edition 24 collection of YSL basics. The creative output of the photoshoot will appear on a newly-revamped YSL website this fall, promoting the new collection in an interactive way, with some user-generated content to boot.

It’s good to see more luxury houses experimenting to see how the web can work for them. While a project like this won’t solve YSL’s systemic profitability problems (Valerie Hermann, YSL’s CEO, clearly still has her work cut out for her), it does bring some freshness to the way the brand is perceived and promotes the new capsule collection in a way that is bound to draw attention (and eyeballs). With a certain "Creative Technologist" on staff, we are looking forward to seeing more interactive experimentation from Gucci Group brands.