If you want to know and learn about a brand that has gone a long way to reach its position nowadays, Chanel is a great example of this.
Starting with its founder, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s background story is one of struggle and triumph, which makes her accomplishments more impressive and why the brand is so loved by many.
The company has experienced tremendous growth since its inception, and it continues to be one of the most profitable fashion brands on earth. This article will discuss Chanel’s history, how they started, items for sale, and anything you would wish to know.
Chanel’s Founder: How It Started
If there’s something you will notice about fashion brands, especially luxurious ones, most of their names come from the founders themselves.
This isn’t an exception for Chanel, which is why it is only logical to start with the person behind the empire.
Gabrielle “Coco” Channel was born in 1883 in Saumur, Maine-et-Loire, France.
His parents, Jeanne Devolle Chanel and Albert Chanel weren’t wealthy but instead classified as poor.
Jeanne was a laundrywoman, while his father, Albert, was an itinerant street vendor who worked with clothes and undergarments. He continuously traveled and lived a nomadic life.
When her mother died at the age of 31, Gabrielle was only 11 and was sent away by his father along with her other five siblings.
Her two brothers were sent to work as farm laborers, while she and her two sisters were accepted in the convent of Aubazine, where an orphanage was available.
The orphanage brought a frugal life and offered girls who were homeless and abandoned an opportunity. Her stay in this place influenced her future career as a fashion designer since she learned how to sew thanks to the caretakers.
When Chanel turned 18, she had to move to a boarding house for Catholic girls in Moulins.
After learning to sew at Aubazine, she was able to find opportunities as a seamstress. During her free time or whenever she didn’t receive any jobs, she sang in a cabaret attended by cavalry officers.
Chanel’s stage debut was at a cafe concert, a popular entertainment venue of that era. She sang in La Rotonde’s Moulins pavilion. Between star turns, she was a poser and made enough money to pay the bills.
Gabrielle was singing at the cabaret when she acquired the nickname “Coco” since she often sang “Who has Seen Coco” during this time.
In 1906, Chanel worked in the spa resort town of Vichy.
Vichy was surrounded by theatres, cafes, and concert halls that she wanted to perform in. Chanel was young and attractive, with a physical appeal, but her voice was nothing special (according to the results of her auditions).
She worked at the Grande Grille in order to have enough to make ends and stay in the city. However, she soon returned to Moulins after realizing that she was not destined for a career on the stage.
Starting an Empire
After returning to Moulins, Chanel’s love life started to influence her future, opening several stores.
This takes us to The House of Chanel (Chanel S.A.), founded in 1909 by her, who opened a millinery store at 160 Boulevard Malesherbes.
This was on the ground floor of the Parisian flat of Etienne Balsan (of whom she was the mistress).
Thanks to the store’s location, Chanel was able to meet clients from the elite. These were the women of fashion. They displayed their wealth through ornate clothing, jewelry, and hats.
Coco Chanel was able to sell the hats that she made and designed to them, earning a living independently of Balsan.
During this time, she also met Arthur “Boy,” an English socialite and polo player friend.
Boy Capel also made her his mistress and saw Chanel as a businesswoman despite her social circumstances, to the point of funding her first independent millinery shop, Coco Chanel Modes, in Paris in 1910. The business lease allowed Chanel to sell only millinery products at that location, which was already home to a dress shop. The Deauville and Biarritz couture shops owned by Coco Chanel sold pret-a-porter clothes for women.
European fashion was impacted by the First World War (1914-18), which saw a shortage of materials and the mobilization of women.
By that time, Chanel had opened a large dress shop at 31 Rue Cambon, near the Hotel Ritz, in Paris. Flannel blazers and straight-line skirts in linen were among the items on sale.
Because of its physical characteristics as a garment, Coco Chanel used jersey cloth. This was due to its drape – how it falls on and from the body of the women – and its adaptability to simple garment designs.
Some of Chanel’s designs were derived from military uniforms that the War popularized.
Harper’s Bazaar magazine reported in 1915 and 1917 that La Maison Chanel garments were “on every buyer’s list” for European clothing factories.
La Maison Chanel produced beaded dresses after the First World War. These were very popular with the women of the 1920s. During this time, Coco also presented a suit made for women composed of two or three garments.
This allowed a woman to look modern and feminine while still being practical and comfortable.
In order to complement the suit of clothes and her ideas for women, Coco Chanel asked Ernest Beaux, a perfumer, to create a perfume to match the suit of clothes in 1921.
He created perfume No.5 after Chanel’s favorite sample. After it was delivered, most clients received a bottle of No. 5 de Chanel as a gift, and due to its popularity, La Maison Chanel was inspired to offer it for sale retail in 1922.
The success of No. 5 encouraged Chanel to start selling her perfumes in Europe instead of remaining in France.
From here, the brand went over many changes and challenges.
In the late 1920s, many partners joined Chanel to expand her vision and bring new items to the brand.
While in the 1930s and 1940s, the war greatly impacted the business, including being exploited by one of her business partners.
Besides this treason, Chanel was exiled in Switzerland for a long season, but despite the difficulties, she even opened a parfumerie to be the rival of her partner.
From the 1950s to the 1970s, Coco returned to France and was inspired by many trends, including the one made by Christian Dior.
Her hardships with selling perfume for men are included during this period, and her struggles yet success in designing new clothes and merchandise for her brand.
Despite the ups and downs of the business, she put herself and Chanel in the spotlight, leading to what the company is nowadays and known as one of the best luxury brands in the world.
Coco Chanel died when she was 87, on January 10, 1971, and everyone remembers her for continuing designing at the time of her death.
Chanel’s Popularity: Why People Love It
If you go over Chanel’s history carefully, you will notice how women loved the brand’s innovation and its founder.
Coco was fantastic at creating pieces for women that weren’t always “feminine.” Instead, she was part of the designers who broke the stereotype of using dresses and avoiding suits.
When the first suit for women came out, many had their doubts, but it was pretty popular among women, not only for those who could afford it but also with commoners that looked forward to using a similar piece.
Besides this, the designer was innovative and never ran away from starting new trends. Also, her exploration of other items brought many people to love what she offered with her brand.
Among the main reasons she became a timeless fashion icon and her brands, the trademark suits and little black dresses boosted her reputation with women.
Everything will lead you to how she wanted women to be comfortable yet beautiful in their clothes, and this remains one of the brand’s goals since then.
Her influence took her to be the only fashion designer to be listed on Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of the 20th century after bringing change to women’s fashion in the post-World War I era.
What Can You Buy in Chanel?
Since it was founder, Chanel has focused on the female market, which is why you will notice that when it comes to clothes and garments, there’s only a womenswear line available.
However, the brand is so famous, and people love the innovation that many men decide to use some of the garments, which look unique when a man wears them.
Now, when it comes to all the items and options you can find in the brand, they do have a wide variety for women and even men when it isn’t about clothes.
For women, you have a clothesline that includes dresses, pants, jackets, and all the types of clothes you need.
For accessories, Chanel not only offers sunglasses for both women and men but watches and jewelry as well.
Finally, you can find fragrances (for women and men), makeup and skincare products.
The million-dollar question is, how much does it cost to buy even one of those items?
As you would expect from any luxury fashion brand, they aren’t cheap. Below, there’s a range of the prices for some of the most common and best-seller items:
- Jackets: $5.100 to $7.000 or more.
- Brooches or small accessories: $320 to $1.150 or more.
- Bags: $5.000 to $10.000+.
- Pants: usually start at $5.500.
- Shoes: $1.100 to $3.500+.
- Skincare and personal hygiene products: $45 to $200 or more.
- Fragrances: $138 to $280+.
- Watches: usually starts at $6.000.
- Jewelry: usually starts at $8.000.
Keep in mind that this is an estimate for each of the products, and it depends on the collections and how much the merchandise of the brand is worth over the years.
How Much Is Chanel Worth?
With such history and journey, you would expect the brand to stand among the most valuable ones, and you’re right to think that way.
According to Forbes, the brand’s value stands at $12.8 billion, while its revenue reaches $13.7 billion.
However, Chanel has always been private about disclosing its finances and the entire overview of its worth.
In 2020, its sales decreased due to the impact of the pandemic. However, it continues to stand firm and even higher than back in 2018.
Chanel’s reputation and incredible collections for women have brought many sales over the last few months in 2021, which is why it is expected for it to have an increase in revenue and value for the next Forbes list.
What we can tell you about the brand is that we expect it to keep growing, and although there aren’t plans to start a menswear line, it is pretty popular by just having them wear the other pieces available.
Chanel & Celebrities: Endorsements & Favorites
Almost every female celebrity has worn Chanel at least once, which is why it is hard to mention all their names.
However, some of the most popular ones are Blake Lively, Cardi B, Rihanna, Kristen Stewart, Penélope Cruz, Cara Delevigne, Gwyneth Paltrow, and many more.
Male celebrities don’t fall behind when it comes to wearing any of the brand’s pieces, which is why you might have spotted artists like Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Usher, and several k-pop stars using some pieces of the collections or made for them only.
Finally, when it comes to endorsements, Keira Knightley is one of the brand’s favorite.
The British actress makes you think about Chanel right away after the many advertisements she has starred in and the campaigns she has taken part in.
Jewelry and especially fragrances are the main items she has advertised for the brand.
Overall, the brand focuses on high-earning celebrities, Hollywood A-listers, and idols or legends popular worldwide, which is why it doesn’t endorse everyone and is rather selective.
Some you might know besides the previous actress are Kristen Stewart and Jennie Kim from Blackpink.
Whitney Peak is one of the newest additions of the brand, and you will get to know her a bit more in the new reboot of “Gossip Girl.”
Others like Willow Smith, Alice Dellal, Julianne Moore, Lily-Rose Depp, Nicole Kidman, Audrey Tautou, and Pharrell Williams himself can also be included.
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