Derek Lam Discusses Attainable Luxury Are Diffusion Lines The Money Makers?

In a recent sitdown with AdWeek, designer Derek Lam discusses accessible luxury and why he decided to make a diffusion 10 Crosby from his Derek Lam line.

“Traditionally, the plan would have been to just stick to high-end,” Lam explains one April afternoon at his company headquarters and studio near New York’s Madison Square Park. “But I went into it saying, ‘I want to do as many different levels as possible because I want to reach a wider audience.’ It used to be that designers could sit and wait for the audience to come to them—now, they have to go to the audience.”
“I think that before, designers would do secondary lines that were maybe more derivative of their main collections,” he says. “I recognized that 10 Crosby couldn’t be just a knockoff of what I was doing [at Derek Lam]. So when we started marketing the line, we built an ideal of this 10 Crosby woman, and that was really key.”

This is quite interesting as the line recently made a Chicago stop at space519, a store in the 900 shops that sources curated pieces from apparel to accessories at reasonable price points.

“Another key factor in the growth of this space is the influence of millennials. “Young consumers are looking for quality and design, but they’re also looking for ‘new,’” says Pedraza. “They’re much more open to new and affordable brands than baby boomers.”

Looking at the Chicago retail landscape, stores such as Nordstrom, JCrew, Saks are competing for the consumers that may frequent E Street or Sofia, Blake or Ikram who’s pieces tend to be more on the higher end price wise.

That’s why the most successful affordable luxury brands are ones that cater to consumers’ desire for an entrée into a luxury lifestyle. Michael Kors has long positioned its main collection as the epitome of jet-set style, and continues to do so with its lower-priced line. Tory Burch’s preppy-chic aesthetic conjures up images of country clubs and summers in Nantucket. Kate Spade, once famous for its minimalist nylon bags, now sells a luxe version of retro femininity. For aspirational consumers, to own an item from one of these brands, even if it’s just a $30 iPhone case, is to own a piece of that lifestyle.
The article goes on to note:

And yet, the category with the most untapped potential might just be plus-size fashion. Despite the fact that the average American woman is a size 14, most designer brands only go up to size 10 or 12. And as a rule, the more expensive the label, the smaller its sizing.

The plus size fashion is an untapped market that only a select few labels have been able to sustain. Lafayette 148 is one that makes quality luxury apparel.

The one thing to gain out of this is that the quest for luxury attainable or aspirational will never diminish but there’s value in knowing what went into making a $3,000 Celine or Belstaff bag that may last longer than say a $300 kate spade bag that will have to be replaced within a year or consigned or auctioned off.

Are you a fan of diffusion lines? What’s is your aspirational luxury item?


Bolaji Sosan
Bolaji Sosan

pronounced: Boh-la-jee, like the Bellagio but w/o the O. SLC Founder and Editor, loves to write about topics at the intersection of career and lifestyle for today's young professional and future leaders.

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