Briefs: Procter & Gamble Ties Laundry to Fashion

Article excerpt

Procter & Gamble Co. links laundry to fashion in what's billed as the biggest product launch yet for its venerable Tide brand.

Fashion mentor Tim Gunn of the reality TV series "Project Runway" is among figures from the fashion world involved in the marketing of new Tide detergent and Downy fabric softener "Total Care" products. P&G's Kash Shaikh says a $60 million campaign also includes a tie- in with Ann Taylor Loft women's clothing stores and advertising in magazines such as Elle, Vogue and Cosmopolitan.

The Cincinnati-based consumer goods company says the new products draw on technology from its beauty products division to enable clothes to keep their shape and color longer through repeated washing.

They're also an example of how P&G is banking on big-brand innovations to overcome a tradedown-minded U.S. consumer economy.

Even wish lists have priorities

This is a year of making do with what you've got, of scaling way back. But if you're going to throw caution to the wind and spend a little cash, you should be spending it on something fabulously distinctive.

These days, quality basics can be had for a (relative) song, thanks to savvy mass retailers who figured out that there was gold in them thar hills: The average fashion-focused woman might not be able to afford Stella McCartney, but she sure wants to roll out of the house looking like she could. For cashmere, hit up J. Crew. For a LBD (little black dress), shop Banana Republic or Target (Tar- jay, that is). For clothes with a vintage, Marni-esque flavor, prowl Anthropologie.

But life shouldn't be confined to just the basics. Everyone's life -- and wardrobe -- benefits from a little sartorial sunshine. Perhaps you find it in the guise of an artfully crafted bag. (And no, we're not talking about those gaudy "It" bags.) A marvelous pair of boots. An amazing pair of earrings. A miraculous pair of jeans that work wonders on the rear view. A classically beautiful coat. A to-die-for cocktail dress.

There's a difference between a splurge and a wise investment. The investment pays off season after season, long after the sell-by date on those here today, gone tomorrow trends. Quality is the operative word here.

So, if we had our druthers -- and a really fat bank balance -- we'd be running out to grab these little numbers. The swoops and curves of cashmere can't be duplicated on the mass market level. We're loving the mix-and-match patterns of Rachel Roy's dress. …