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From the same company, but not so you'd know: Rigby & Peller (far left), which has a royal warrant; Fantasie (left), specializing in “pretty bras” for the fuller-breasted woman through to the J cup; and Freya (below left), targeting a younger audience with up-to-the-minute designs.

O UNDERSTAND fashion today is to understand branding. LVMH, the French luxury brands' group, is probably the best-known conglomerate in the field, with its many acquisitions including Dior and Donna Karan. More recently, the Luxury Brands Group (née Cardington) acquired Hardy Amies in Savile Row.
   Equating these groups with a knowledge of branding may not be the wisest idea. They have been able to position the brands in terms of demographics, but to a layperson, how well has it been done? Can Dior be summarized in a word or a phrase? What is the essence of Donna Karan?
   It's not unlike the automotive industry. One of our sister magazines pointed out early last year how DaimlerChrysler had botched its positioning of the Chrysler brands, even though Chrysler and its sister brand Mercedes-Benz occupied very different markets.
   The intimate apparel industry, meanwhile, may have made greater advances with some of the better-known groups—Eveden Ltd., for example—owning brands in different strata and allowing them to find a niche for themselves. In fact, after years of being dominated by retailers, intimate apparel brands are slowly surfacing. Instead of being burdened by old cultures, many have been able to redefine themselves in a highly competitive early 2000s market-place.
   Eveden's company history includes a period where it was a large contract manufacturer for Marks & Spencer and it was not until its 1993 management buyout, led by managing director Tony Thwaites, that saw the brands regain their independence. Its brands, such as Rigby & Peller, Freya and Fantasie, are properly defined, says Jonathan Kelly of B2G, a British retailer.
   'I think the Eveden brands sit quite well,' he told Lucire. He equated Rigby & Peller to 'Rolls-Royce' (it is, like Rolls-Royce, the holder of a Royal Warrant), Freya to 'young, fresh, exciting' and Fantasie to 'upmarket and larger sizes'. Eveden's official statement is in line with how Kelly saw the brands.
   'They clearly each fulfil a role. If you are "young" you might not wish to wear the same label as your Mum (hence Freya), and if you "think" you are young you might still buy Freya!' While he had misgivings about the Fantasie name, he did point out that the top-selling bra in the UK is called 'Doreen'.

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