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Project investigates products from luxury brands

by Meredith Abrams
There’s a method behind the success of high-end brand name clothes and luxury items, and Christopher Rao tried to find out what it is, he said.
Rao undertook a Senior Year Project studying what certain luxury brands have done to make themselves understandable to consumers and therefore popular.
“I wrote a thesis on brand identity and its correlation with retail success,” Rao said.
“I hoped to further my understanding of what makes the best luxury brands so lucrative. There’s definitely a formula.
“It was a study of the strategies that brands use to appeal to consumers,” he said.
“A lucrative brand has an aesthetic that is identifiable in every one of its lines, from ready-to-wear to accessories to scent.”
Rao said, “The foundation for a brand’s overall identity can be anything—its heritage, the primary material it works with, a message, a lifestyle.
“Whatever that may be, it has to be precisely communicated, and that is the essence of branding.”
Rao chose his topic because, “fashion has always been my number-one interest,” he said. “And retail has become a true passion of mine within the last few years.
“I wanted my SYP to be something that would give me a thorough understanding of the industry into which I’m going,” Rao said.
SYP was a good option for Rao because he was tired of traditional school, he said. “I wanted a change of pace,” Rao said.
“I was ready to spend my time working on things other than European history and math, things that I would not have to push myself to focus on.”
To begin his project, Rao gathered research from a variety of sources, he said.
“I read Dana Thomas’s Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, which focuses on the steps that modern luxury brands take to develop brand awareness, visibility and profits.”
In addition, he kept a close watch on newspapers and magazines in order to get information, he said.
The New Yorker just published an article on designer Reed Krakoff and the branding of his namesake label,” Rao said.
“Suzy Menkes of The International Herald Tribune writes frequently on how brand identity impacts sales.”
Rao said that he is very happy he chose to do SYP. “SYP was definitely the best choice I could have made,” he said. “SYP is one of the better programs NNHS has to offer,” Rao said.
“It allows you to do something innovative and intellectual on a topic you’re passionate about, and the product will be satisfying if you are willing to invest the time necessary.

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