Fashion Entrepreneur

By winning the fourth season of the TV show The Project Runway, Christian Siriano became the youngest winner of the popular fashion design reality series at the age of twenty one (Buckman, 2008). For a designer who is being perceived as a future icon despite being so young and new to the industry, Mr. Siriano is turning out to be an equally astute businessman and marketer. Mr. Siriano understands the fickle nature of the fashion industry and how talent alone is not enough to remain in business anymore. Mr. Siriano has diversified his revenue streams by taking several non-clothing design projects. In doing so, Mr. Siriano is also developing relationships with global corporations and expanding his exposure. Mr. Siriano have already created a cell phone and mobile accessories for LG Electronics, a makeup collection for Victoria's Secret, and a line of low priced shoes for Payless Shoesource. Mr. Siriano’s collections have been picked up by Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus and he enjoyed total revenues of $1.2 million in 2010 (Crain's, 2010).

What Mr. Siriano quickly realized after winning the reality show is that exposure and brand recognition makes a lot of difference in the survival prospects of a fashion designer. In addition, despite having no business or financial background Mr. Siriano understood the value of financial liquidity. Mr. Siriano had planned meetings with retailers in the days following his win on the show but they all got cancelled due to the financial crisis. Mr. Siriano admits that the reason he took on projects for LG and Victoria's Secret was to maintain income stream in order to stay afloat (Crain's, 2010). Mr. Siriano has even partnered with Puma and Starbucks (Christian V. Siriano). If we look at Mr. Siriano’s partnerships with companies, his work for these companies is not related to his core competency which is clothing design. But Mr. Siriano does gain brand awareness which would not only produce customers for his main products but also open further profitable opportunities, just like the ones that Target Corporation has pursued with Isaac Mizrahi, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Missoni (Grinberg, 2011).

Mr. Siriano is also taking steps to take direct control of his revenue streams. Mr. Siriano operates an online web store on his official website where the customers can directly buy the dresses. Mr. Siriano’s dresses go as high as $5,000 which helps Mr. Siriano maintain brand exclusiveness while his partnerships build up his audience market. So far Mr. Siriano seems to be doing well but as time passes, Mr. Siriano would have to become more selective in chossing his partnerships so as not to dilute the brand. Mr. Siriano current strategy does follow the latest trend in the fashion industry which is good for both the designer and the partnering companies but many brands have already established a certain image in the customers’ minds. Mr. Siriano is new in the field and his current strategy may be confusing the customers. On one hand, mr. Siriano’s mainstream products are expensive but on the other hand, his shoes are carried by a discount shoe store chain. One alternative for Mr. Siriano is to develop extensions of his mainstream brand which are aimed at different market segments and thus, can be used to have an effective segmentation strategy. A good example would be Giorgio Armani who is seen as a premium brand but has more affordable product lines such as Armani Jeans and Armani Exchange.

Mr. Siriano has partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Mr. Siriano should focus on more prestigious retail chains for now and later seek companies like Target that have nationwide presence yet a trendy image in consumers’ minds. Mr. Siriano’s partnerships with Puma and LG make more sense than Payless Shoesource even though shoes are more closely related to Mr. Siriano’s mainstream products. But then Mr. Siriano also has partnered with Puma, thus, Mr. Siriano already has one shoe partnership. Mr. Siriano is already on the right track when it comes to financials since he has been quick to set an online store and has shown over time that he is aware of the importance of financial liquidity in the industry. In addition, Mr. Siriano has also established international presence and his clothes are already being sold by stores in Middle East as well as Canada and Russia (Christian V. Siriano).