This paper explores the situation of Paris haute couture firms during the interwar period, focusing on the strategies deployed to face the Economic Depression. It first examines the figures of exports and failures as potential indicators of the impact of the crisis. Then, the article addresses the responses of haute couture to the Depression, starting with the action of the couturiers federated in the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture parisienne. Strategies of peculiar actors are considered next, particularly the activities of Georges Aubert, a financier who arguably founded the first luxury group in France. Research results show that the mergers and acquisitions launched by Aubert were hardly successful, and met with opposition from the haute couture profession. The paper then explores the range of strategies available to haute couture firms, from the reduction of overhead costs to the development of tie-in products. Finally, the paper underlines that the interwar period was a time of experimentation for the haute couture industry, which was relatively resilient in times of contraction of the economy.
Keywords: Fashion, France, Business History, Great Depression, Luxury Groups, Mergers and Acquisitions