The fascinating and charming Fashion industry which seems to be full of glitter and glamour onscreen, back stage it is much more complex and competitive. In this era of globalization leading fashion brands are looking for innovative leaders who can cope with this fast changing environment and bring sustainable changes in the on-going process. A successful innovative leader has various capabilities and common behavior but, at the end of the day they take their business to the next level with their unique and distinctive expertise (Yuki 2010). But here the argument derives that is it enough to have a charismatic leader to bring innovation in the company? If the organizational culture and management is too much rigid and inflexible it is difficult for a leader to take the risk of being innovative. Therefore it can be said that, there is a strong relationship between the leadership, organizational environment and structure to support the form of innovative leadership style.
In the world of fashion there are many iconic leaders who dared to take the risk of bringing change and think something out of the box. In this blog we will explore two most influential fashion leaders Coco Chanel and Marc Jacobs who has changed the definition of fashion and redirect it into a new light.
Coco Chanel was time magazines only fashion designer to top it 100 most important people of the century. Chanel is specialized in women’s fashion and designs elegance dresses, suits, trousers and jewelry by replacing the opulent, constrictive and over-designed clothes and accessories of 19th century fashion. At that period women’s fashion was restricted and conservative. A woman could not enjoy and express her freedom by the way she dresses. Chanel took the lead and brought revolution in woman fashion and showed the fashion world a new way of innovation (Vogue 2007).
By replacing the traditional structured- silhouettes based upon corset that were flattering to the women’s figure Chanel bought modern feminine appearance in her design. This was more practical and comfortable for the wearer. She was inspired by how a man dresses and bought innovation by designing court shirt with tie and boater hat for women. Simplicity was the key of her creation and she made a woman appearance more feminine and appealing (Coco Chanel Biography 2013). As author Deschamps (2008):
- An innovative leader has the obsession to redefine the necessity and requisite of a customer.
- They have an urge for innovation.
- They have enough potentiality and courage to take the risk.
Chanel took the lead to take that risk of bringing change. In 1983, Karl Lagerfeld took over as chief designer for Chanel but he always looks back for his inspiration (Karl Lagerfeld’s Interview, Chanel Cruise 2012/2013). She is a delighted example of innovative leader in fashion industry and will be alive forever as a role model in the heart of all upcoming designers.
Marc Jacobs is another iconic name in fashion industry. He is the creative head for Marc Jacobs and also for Marc by Marc Jacob. In 1997, he joined the leading brand Louis Vuitton as the Chief creative director. After he joined this famous leading French Design House, he has transform and changed the brand image of Louis Vuitton. From the very past Louis Vuitton used to hold an image of sophistication and elegance. This brand used to hold a look of woman in their mid age. Marc Jacob has changed that perception and bought glamour and youthfulness to the brand image (Marc Jacobs Biography 2013). He changed the brand image from something that a Grandmother will carry to the most glamorous luxury brand.
This transformation was also possible due to the management style of Louis Vuitton. The brand allowed this innovative leader to go ahead and take the risk of changing the brand image. As Mullins (2010) mentioned, leadership is a quality by using which he or she can pursue the team members and thus they will be willing and excited to follow the leader. The change was truly profitable for Louis Vuitton and he tripled the annual gross revenue by 5 billion dollars (Marc Jacobs Biography 2013). This success was a result of truly innovative leader blended with a management style that welcome and accept innovation and transformation.
In the conclusion it can stated that, a charismatic and innovative leader can bring success but to sustain that a link should be made within the leadership style and organizational culture. As Robbins and Coulter says, leaders should have the qualities to motivate, innovate and stimulate a positive environment that encourages creativity and turn that creativity into an innovation.
- Deschamps Jean- Philippe, ‘Innovative Leaders: how senior executive stimulate steer and sustain innovation’ 2008 John Wiley and sons Ltd, The Atrium, Southern Gate, West Sussex, England.
- Bio true Stories(2012) Marc Jacobs [online] available from < http://www.biography.com/people/marc-jacobs-594096/videos/marc-jacobs-mini-biography-2157029259>[28th March 2013]
- YouTube (2012/13) Karl Lagerfeld interview channel cruise [online available from < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wKwySrda7M>[28th March 2013]
- Yukl, G. (2010) ‘Leadership in Organization’, 7th edition, Pearson, New Jersey, USA.
- Vogue (2007). ‘ CHANEL’ [online] Available from
<http://www.vogue.com/voguepedia/Chanel> [28th March 2013]