AOL® Search, America Online’s search destination, revealed the year’s top searches based on the people and topics that received the highest volume of online queries between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2004.
- LOUIS VUITTON
Percentage of searches based on fashion brands: 18.3
Artistic director Marc Jacobs has had some big hits at the $3 billion ready-to-wear, accessories and jewelry firm. His bags and baubles elicit a certain type of desire from women who mouth the words “must-have” when they see them. The company introduced a complete fine jewelry line this year. Jacobs’ first item, a bracelet and charms that include a diamond-studded airplane, took off like a rocket when he unveiled it three years ago.
Percentage of searches based on fashion brands: 9.7
Over the past decade, the brand has been reinvented under chairman and chief executive officer Lew Frankfort and president and executive creative director Reed Krakoff. Sales in 2004 will hit the billion-dollar mark. Krakoff has imbued the label with a strong identity that also borrows from the latest trends. For example, its bronze metallic Vintage Signature collection taps the craze for shiny leather. Madison includes handbags, accessories, hats, scarves, gloves, shoes and outerwear in satin with details such as rhinestone buckles.
Percentage of searches based on fashion brands: 9.1
Those searches for retailers of Ugg merchandise added up. Prompted by young style setters such as Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, the Australian brand has seen more than its fair share of action. They were sold out in many places last year. The boots appeal to a diverse crowd. Neiman Marcus featured them in its Christmas Book this year.
Percentage of searches based on fashion brands: 5.3
After creative director Tom Ford — along with ceo Domenico De Sole — exited the multibrand luxury group they helped build last April, Gucci filled Ford’s big loafers with a cast of designers who were promoted from the supporting ranks. Stefano Pilati took over at Yves Saint Laurent, Alessandra Facchinetti now handles Gucci women’s wear, John Ray designs Gucci men’s and Frida Giannini does Gucci accessories. Taking De Sole’s slot was former Unilever executive Robert Polet.
- DOONEY & BOURKE
Percentage of searches based on fashion brands: 5.2
The venerable Dooney & Bourke brand got some unwanted publicity when it was sued by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton for trademark infringement. A temporary injunction was denied. Nonetheless, Dooney & Bourke scored last year with its “It” bag. The company has featured Mischa Barton and Lindsay Lohan in ad campaigns.
Percentage of searches based on fashion brands: 5.1
Prada’s pretax profits in 2003 dropped 43.4 percent to 16.1 million euros, or $18.2 million, according to the company’s annual report, released in March. For the first four months of the year, the firm cited an uptick in sales, including a 25 percent growth in the U.S. Prada had 80 percent growth in China and 50 percent expansion in Singapore, places it is aggressively targeting.
Percentage of searches based on fashion brands: 4.2
Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.’s net income jumped 48.9 percent in the second quarter ended Oct. 2 to $80.4 million. The company said results were boosted by the inclusion of the Lauren by Ralph Lauren women’s line and the successful integration of RL Childrenswear, a former licensee, into the wholesale business. Ralph Lauren also is investing in stores such as its Milan flagship, which represents the company’s first foray into Italy.
- BABY PHAT
Percentage of searches based on fashion brands: 3.7
Russell Simmons, founder of Phat Fashions, has never been shy about pairing up with companies less edgy than his own. He sold his company to Kellwood Co. to take advantage of Kellwood’s sourcing and production with the goal of taking his business to the next level. Simmons, with his wife, Kimora Lee, also has teamed up with century-old diamond giant M. Fabrikant & Sons to form the Simmons Jewelry Co., which is expected to bring in $20 million in sales by the end of 2005.
- STEVE MADDEN
Percentage of searches based on fashion brands: 3.5
Steve Madden reported a 48 percent drop in net income during the third quarter compared with the year-ago period. The disappointing results were blamed on basic boots and casual brown looks, which have been weak performers for shoe stores. The company noted that sales of boots for back-to-school were sluggish.
- JUICY COUTURE
Percentage of searches based on fashion brands: 3.4
Juicy Couture contributed to solid gains in Liz Claiborne Inc.’s third quarter. Claiborne ceo Paul Charron cited the brand when announcing that the company beat its projections. Net income for the quarter jumped 14 percent to $111.6 million from year-ago earnings of $97.9 million, and sales increased 11.3 percent to $1.31 billion from $1.17 billion a year ago. Juicy, along with Enyce, Lucky Brand and Mexx stores, are among the company’s fast-growing businesses.