Design Strategy for EILEEN FISHER

Shift focus for a major women's clothing brand and retailer

Since its launch in a small East Village boutique 25 years ago, New York-based clothing design and manufacturer EILEEN FISHER has enjoyed consistent growth and robust success. The brand now has a national presence, selling in more than 40 company retail stores, online, and to major department stores. Its success is due to the company’s design philosophy and its loyal customers.

EILEEN FISHER was doing steady business, but the brand no longer attracted the customers who had sought it out in the beginning: women in their 30s and 40s with blossoming careers and busy families who wanted beautifully crafted yet highly functional clothes. Instead, these women regarded EILEEN FISHER as their mothers’ brand, despite the fact that its design evolution was more relevant than ever to this younger demographic, as well as to its core customers.

EILEEN FISHER came to IDEO looking for help in creating a richer brand experience for all women, regardless of age. Our objectives: to clarify the company’s brand vision – both design and cultural values – and to apply these principles consistently across all retail channels. Our challenge was to reach new clientele without alienating veteran devotees. The STITCH and THREAD projects were born.

The THREAD project tasked IDEO with developing clear brand guidelines and identifying ways to attract new EILEEN FISHER clientele. To better understand the brand, IDEO conducted interviews with employees throughout the company, devoted customers, and consumers who had developed negative opinions about the clothing. The team created a blog to share content in progress and to collect feedback. Based on this research, IDEO drafted a series of design principles that would provide a foundation for the brand’s future and…

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Project date: 2009