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Isabella Cusick-Knight










EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Yves Saint Laurent is one of the worlds most well known fashion designers with one of the most recognised fashion houses. Saint Laurent is a luxury brand that specialises with men and women’s ready-to-wear collections, as well as accessories like handbags, shoes, cosmetics and fragrances. He is renowned for his modern, iconic and timeless pieces. This report will aim to look at the history of YSL, brand equity, consumer profiles, and recommendations for the brand so it can develop and grow even more in the world of fashion.





Yves Saint Laurent was born to parents Charles and Lucienne Andrée Mathieu-Saint-Laurent on August 1st 1936, Oran, Algeria. Growing up was not easy for Saint Laurent, he was often teased for appearing homosexual, as a result of this he was a very nervous child. He found comfort in fashion; designing dresses for his mother and his 2 sisters. At the tender age of 17, he decided to move to Paris to pursue a career in designing theatrical costumes. He enrolled at ‘Chambre Syndicale de la Couture’. After graduating his designs caught a lot of peoples attention, including Michel De Brunhoff the editor for French Vogue. De Brunhoff introduced Saint Laurent to Christian Dior. After showing Dior some of his sketches he was immediately hired as his assistant. 4 years later, Dior passed away and Saint Laurent became the head designer of the House of Dior, at the young age of 21.

In 1960, he was called back to his country to fight for its independence. However due to medical reasons Saint Laurent was not able to fight. Upon returning to Paris, he discovered that his job at Dior had disappeared. He gained a large sum of compensation money, as an apology, and with his partner Pierre Berge, he opened up his own fashion house. Yves Saint Laurent was the first living designer to receive a solo exhibition in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1983. Sadly on June 1st 2008, Yves Saint Laurent died in Paris after suffering from brain cancer. Yves Saint Laurent is globally known for his creativity and boldness. From bringing the sex appeal back for women with the ‘Le Smoking’ tuxedo to designing Bianca Jagger’s iconic wedding dress, YSL broke the makeup industry by introducing the infamous ‘Touche Éclat’. Thick, heavy makeup wasn’t seen again, and women had soft, light, dewy skin. The makeup game had been changed forever. Saint Laurent is a brand that is continuing to amaze the fashion world, whether that is with its clothes, cosmetics or fragrances.





BRAND EQUITY & VISUAL IDENTITY Saint Laurent is a bold, dramatic and sexy fashion label. Yves Saint Laurent started his label in the 1960s just as when women were starting to dress elegantly however, the majority could not afford it. YSL wanted to create clothes that all women could afford, whilst still having the luxury feel and look to them. Since then Saint Laurent, as a brand, has continued to create lavish clothes and accessories for both males and females. The clothes are very sharp, elegant and timeless, the classic ‘Le Smoking’ tuxedo that liberated women is a perfect example. Clothing can be bought in 8 stores around the UK, all of them based in London. Saint Laurent is also sold online, on websites such as: ‘Net-a-porter’ , ’Selfridges’ and ‘Harrods’. As a result of this, because Saint Laurent is not sold in high street shops, the brand name becomes exclusive and associated with people who have appreciation for fashion and who are wealthy.

YSL also has a very high status in the makeup and cosmetic industry. The most iconic makeup product has to be ‘Touche Éclat’, which was the original face highlighter. The packaging for the makeup products is primarily gold which gives the product a very luxury feel to it. The difference between the clothing and makeup is that makeup products are easier to buy as they are sold in high street shops such as John Lewis and Boots. This could possibly take away the exclusivity of the brand as anyone can get hold of it. However, Yves Saint Laurent’s main aim in the beginning was to make products that were affordable and accessible for women everywhere.


In 2012, Hedi Slimane was appointed as the Creative and Image Director of the brand. Today the brand is owned by the group ‘Kering’, with other brands such as Gucci, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen. (Kering, 2014) Slimane rebranded the label and took it back to its original style. The biggest change he did was redesign the logo. The original logo has remained with its accessories such as bags, shoes and cosmetics. J N Kapferer explained that the brand identity can not be disassociated with the creator’s identity. “The YSL brand celebrates the beauty of body, of charm, of surrender to romance, and is flavoured with a hint of ostentatious indecency.” Saint Laurent is a sophisticated brand that originally reached out and appealed to wealthy middle age consumers. As time has gone by, the brand has taken interest to young, trendy adults who are interested in couture and fashion. Using colours like black and gold for its packaging gives the brand a very classy, mature and sexy vibe. 14




MARKETING MIX Saint Laurent offers a range of products that are luxury and timeless for both males and females. The brand sells products such as: jackets, jumpers, skirts, t-shirts, shoes, accessories (handbags and jewellery) and their ready-to-wear collection. Their size guide is measured by ‘YSL (size)’. They have a conversion table available to ensure that the customer selects the right size. YSL’s products are practical and serve the customer in the best way possible, whether this is a shoe, a handbag, a piece of clothing or fragrance. As well as the brand being practical it also comes with a certain status of wealth, appreciation and good knowledge of fashion. A consumer could either be looking for the status or could have a genuine appreciation for higher end products. Saint Laurent always tries to provide their customers the best products they can.

The ready-to-wear collection pricing varies depending on the item. The latest dress that is now available for pre-order, starting price is £12,855.00. ( YSL’s cosmetic line is slightly cheaper, which means their is not as much exclusivity to the product. Make-up prices averaging at the £30.00 mark, and fragrances averaging at £60.00 ( The price of fragrances vary depending on how much product you get. (50ml, 100ml etc). As the cosmetic part of the label is owned by L’Oreal, it is understandable why the prices are more reasonable in comparison to the ready-to-wear collection.

When purchasing Saint Laurent, buyers understand that they’re not only just paying for the product they are also paying for the name of the brand. Within the luxury fashion world the prices are very competitive; as a consequence of this, the majority of high end brands prices are very similar, with YSL’s cheapest bag starting at £1,250.00 and its most expensive bag starting at £2,590.00 ( 17


Luxury brands are typically advertised in fashion magazines (Vogue, Harpers Bazaar etc). These magazines are targeted at a certain consumer group who are wealthy and they also have disposable income, so they are able to buy things for their personal entertainment such as magazines. Social media plays a massive part in our day to day lives, and people usually keep up to date by being online. YSL have an Instagram account with 3.5 million followers and a Twitter account with 4.1 million followers. On these accounts they share campaign photographs and updates about their latest collections. After carrying out a small questionnaire via SurveyMonkey ( YY3YH9H) it came to my attention that 35.38% of people thought that YSL’s advertising was effective and 53.85% of people had not seen or were not familiar of any advertising done by the brand. Technology has advanced so much in the past couple of years, and online shopping has become increasingly popular. Today it is more common for people to shop in the comfort of their homes. 44.62% of people who filled out my survey said that if they were to buy a Saint Laurent product they would do it online. Whereas 55.38% of people said they would rather purchase in store. Buying in store is what helped YSL grow, with it being sold in high end department stores and boutiques. Now the internet is taking over and spreading the name of the brand and giving it publicity all around the globe.




A YSL woman is someone who is confident, strong, sexy and not afraid to stand out.

They would also like to be seen as bold and quirky, as YSL’s outfits are very loud and demand to be seen. In regard to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, ‘esteem’ gives them the sense of accomplishment and status they desire. A consumer who would purchase from the YSL ready-to-wear collection would not be a price sensitive customer, have loyalties towards the brand (so would buy more than one item from their collection), be highly fashionable and maybe use the brand to increase social status.

The ideal Saint Laurent consumer is anyone who has a certain love for high end, luxury items. After collecting results from my survey, 14.29% of people thought that the brand was aimed at 18-25 year olds, 25.40% said that the brand was aimed at everyone, whereas 39.68% of people thought that YSL’s main consumers at aged between 26-35. It does make sense for their main consumers to be 26-35 years old, as you would have to be financially stable to afford the majority of their products.

On the other hand, the ideal customer when it comes to purchasing makeup and fragrances can be anyone who is fashion savvy, who has a passion for the brand and who likes to have good quality products, there is no real age range cap. This could be because there is such a dramatic price difference between the clothing and cosmetics.

The ideal customer would be someone who is a socialite and who lives in an urban setting where it is seen as ‘appropriate’ to wear extravagant and beautiful outfits to. They would have a love for travelling and the French culture. They definitely like to ‘dress to impress’ and they would have high career ambitions, a high social status and have a confident self image. 21


COMPETITOR ANALYSIS Saint Laurent is a brand that will always have many competitors, this is because they are involved in two very successful industries. The fashion industry and makeup/cosmetic industry. The rebranding of the label in 2012 by Hedi Slimane resulted in a repositioning of the potential customer. Prior to the re-branding, the ideal customer would have been a 25+ woman who has a high paid, full time job and is a socialite. The same basis still applies but the target market is now edgy and fun young adults, who have a ‘rock and roll’ vibe. Saint Laurent has competitors owned by two companies in the fashion industry: Kering Group (Gucci Group) and LVMH Group.



The competitors owned by Kering Group are: Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Versace and Gucci. These fashion brands offer similar products and they all have similar prices. ( Competing with Alexander McQueen and Versace when it comes to style as these labels are very edgy. The more traditional competitors would be Gucci, Dior and Chanel. To stand out from these groups, Saint Laurent should focus on improving and enhancing certain elements, such as their advertising as the results from my survey showed that 10.77% of people didn’t think the advertising for the brand was good and 53.85% were not familiar with any advertising from the label. However, Saint Laurent has an advantage over all of these brands as it is the only french fashion label that is in the Gucci Group, so it does not have to compete for its aesthetic on its products . The threat of cheaper companies such as ‘Rag and Bone’ is becoming an increasing issue, as brands like this offer similar, edgy, fun products for a lot cheaper prices, which will appeal to a younger consumer who is still fashion savvy, but who can not afford the extortionate prices. High street brands who have similar style are definitely classed as big threats due to the fact they are so affordable and anyone can get hold of their products, thus giving the brand more publicity.






Yves Saint Laurent was forced to remove an advertisement that was featured in British ELLE. It was a photograph of an ‘unhealthily thin’ girl lying on the floor promoting the fashion label. They were forced to remove the advertisement by the Advertising Standards Agency as people were lead to believe that Saint Laurent were promoting unhealthy lifestyles and eating disorders that are very common for young women, especially in the fashion industry.



Since the fashion label has been around since 1961, it has grown so much in regard to its publicity but also with money. In 2009 YSL won the ‘Top-Earning Dead Celebrities list’ with $350 million in earnings from an auction in February. ( Currently its its revenue is at $1.21 billion. (




Luxury consumers used to be a small target audience within the buying market, but over time, people have started to mix ‘high-end’ with ‘high street’, creating no actual set consumer market. We can see examples of high street and luxury brands coming together and creating new collections, for example, H&M and Balmain collaborated back in 2015, and was one of H&M’s most successful collaborations to date. Saint Laurent should consider joining forces with a popular high street label as it will give consumers an ‘entry product’ to start with and thus slowly starting to get consumers into the actual brand itself.



Technology has evolved so much over the past 20 years. It has been predicted that by 2019 we will have over 5 billion mobile phone users. ( Subsequently, fashion brands (that are not necessarily experienced with technology) have to gain some knowledge about what looks appealing on a screen to make people want to buy their products, whether it is on a mobile, tablet or computer. The style and ease of navigating yourself on a website is crucial when it comes to attracting customers, especially with this new consumer group who are tech savvy, but also into fashion. Labels including Saint Laurent have to come up to create different, interesting and unique ways to make customers want to go in to the store and purchase their products.





There are a few luxury fashion brands such as Burberry who have claimed to be ‘green’ but not produced any evidence to suggest otherwise. Saint Laurent is part of the Kering Group who are trying to be as transparent as it can when it comes to telling the truth about where they source their products from. It is a good idea that Saint Laurent keep up with this as it is important to educate the younger generation as to where their clothes and accessories actually come from. It is also crucial to remind all consumers how important it is to save the environment and to advise people to have a small carbon footprint.



Counterfeits are an ongoing issue when you are a world-wide famous fashion brand. Most famously Saint Laurent won its lawsuit against an internet boutique ‘What About Yves’ which was started after Hedi Slimane decided to rebrand the label. The internet boutique released a range of t-shirts and jumpers with a slogan on the front saying ‘Ain’t Laurent Without Yves’. The items were guilty of “trademark infringement, trademark dilution, false designation of origin and unfair competition”. (www.vogue. Saint Laurent asserted its pride with this lawsuit and made it clear that it is not ok for knock off companies to copy their logo, disrespect the fashion label and what they stand for.





Saint Laurent’s products are timeless and iconic, meaning that they are long-lasting when it comes to style but also durability. The new brand image created by Slimane is edgy and rock ’n’ roll, this is a trend that is timeless within the luxury fashion industry. ‘Fashions fade. Style is eternal’ the famous words spoken by Yves Saint Laurent himself. The brand should focus on staying on top of their trendy style by making it unique and able to stand out from the other luxury fashion brands that could be seen as competitors. Saint Laurent is also very successful in two major industries, the fashion and makeup/cosmetic industry. As a brand they have built up a good name for themselves buy selling good quality and beautiful products.



Saint Laurent heavily relies on their logo for recognition. Using YSL and Saint Laurent can be seen as confusing when a consumer is purchasing from the brand. They should focus on promoting the ‘Saint Laurent’ name on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter and perhaps have separate accounts for when it comes to the beauty side of the label. Products like accessories and cosmetics the brand should keep the labelling consistent so customers understand the difference between the two. 32





The brand can revive some of its couture collection. Saint Laurent can easily and successfully do this as vintage clothing is very popular amongst the younger generation and also the label has a lot to account for with its vintage designs. Saint Laurent could improve informing the public about their CSR. Luxury fashion labels like Stella McCartney are renowned for using ethically sourced products to produce ethical fashion. If Saint Laurent were more transparent, it might attract environmentalists to buy from the label.



High street, cheaper, knock off brands are an issue when it comes to ANY luxury fashion label. Primarily because of the dramatic price drop but also the convenience when it comes to purchasing from them. Saint Laurent is only sold in high end department stores such as ‘Harrods’ or ‘Selfridges’ or alternatively online. Saint Laurent could collaborate with a high street store as this would bring more attention to the brand itself, thus gaining more publicity.



After doing thorough research on the luxury fashion label Saint Laurent, I have some recommendations that I would like to put forward to the brand. -Updating/upgrading their digital platforms, such as their website, Instagram and Twitter pages. -Collaborating with celebrities or high street stores in order for people to gain more knowledge about the label. -Use more different and unique ways of advertising the fashion label, as not many people are familiar with their advertising. -Open more stores, either in department stores or smaller boutiques. This will attract more of the older generation and once again get more publicity for the brand.





BIBLIOGRAPHY Bianca Jagger’s Wedding Dress Photos. brides. Retrieved 26 January 2018, from https://www. Collection, M., & Best-Sellers, T. Top Ten Products | YSL. Retrieved 28 January 2018, from How Yves Saint Laurent changed fashion. (2008). Dazed. Retrieved 2 February 2018, from http:// Kapferer, J. (2008). The new strategic brand management. London: Kogan Page. Laurent, Y. Yves Saint Laurent. Biography. Retrieved 26 January 2018, from Niven, L. Let There Be Light. Retrieved 26 January 2018, from http://www.vogue. Saint Laurent | Kering. (2017). Retrieved 2 February 2018, from http://www.kering. com/en/brands/luxury/saint-laurent SAINT LAURENT rive gauche. Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris. Retrieved 31 January 2018, from The Secret of Saint Laurent’s Success. (2007). The Business of Fashion. Retrieved 30 January 2018, from Vaccarello, A., & Vaccarello, A. How Will Anthony Vaccarello Change YSL? | Highsnobiety. Highsnobiety. Retrieved 28 January 2018, from What would a luxury handbag cost without the markup?. (2018). Retrieved 7 February 2018, from Yves Saint Laurent | French designer. (2018). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2 February 2018, from Yves Saint Laurent: the outfits that left a mark in fashion history. Retrieved 6 February 2018, from



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