By Margretta Sowah
Twitter – @bohomags
Designer diffusion diversity. Mouthful? More meaningful than meets the eye. The crowd for the JPG x Target runway launch was a melting pot of prints and neutral nautical. The historical venue in the heart of Melbourne – The Royal Exhibition Building, was alight with the clipping of heels on marble floors. Jean Paul Gaultier. Are we ready for this co-branding collection? This is not a melting pot. Its a smelting pot.
What is it about diffusion and co-branding ventures – Missoni for Target, Hermes for Leica, Coke for illy® – that amplify sales? Is it the old-engineering triangle that comes into play? If it’s good, it’s not fast and not cheap? If it’s fast, it’s not cheap and good? And if it’s cheap, it’s not fast and good? All I know is this; the Jean Paul Gaultier x Target show was good, fast and cheap (as far as branding goes).
According to High Snobiety, “The diffusion line has long been a profitable vehicle for luxury conglomerates to peddle relatively affordable, often heavily-branded versions of their brands’ mainlines to the masses. And while CK, D&G, Marc by Marc Jacobs and the like were in the past effective ways for brands to reach people who wanted to dabble in fashion without having to wear leather sweatpants or go without food for three months, they’re starting to look somewhat outdated now. The world’s luxury houses may be frantically reshuffling their lines in light of declining performance and dwindling profits.”
The Business of Fashion adds to this point, stating; “In addition to accessible luxury brands, consumers now also have the options of shopping fashion from advanced contemporary brands like 3.1 Phillip Lim and Alexander Wang, as well as designer collaborations with mass retailers.
Fashion powerhouse Comme des Garçons stated in the BOF article,“We never liked the idea of diffusion because it kind of waters things down. It dilutes the idea. When you think of every single diffusion line, the name is shorter: Ralph Lauren becomes RL, Donna Karan becomes DKNY.”
The spenders of this decade are mixing trends, cultures and price-points to portray their unique and unfiltered style. The curation of an idea or movement is well researched and assessed before ever taking it to market. Companies are beginning to see there is less of a stigma attached to selling for a wider and diluted market. This is not to say luxury brands are flocking to sign a stitch on the mass or even mid-market arena but, they are aware of their appeal. These insights are transformed ‘from ready-to-wear to Louis Vuitton coin purses, Fendi bag bugs and Prada robot key-rings.’
The lure of huge retail chains like Target is that they have larger volumes units being sold, huge production houses, fast production development and wide variety of selections for the competitive advantage.
Diffusion does not just happen on runways but off them too. The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival was buzzing with Virgin Australia flight attendants – a shoutout to big money. Yes, it is not just big money circulating an event like this; its Social Media as well.
According to DigiDay.com, “When you’ve got physical retail and e-commerce, all the pieces must work together […] The Internet has driven that point. Now, fashion shows are streamed runway-side on Periscope, emerging indie brands like Revolve can blast into the mainstream retail industry, and the designers themselves, like Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs, can share behind-the-scenes peeks into collections (and their personal lives) on Snapchat and Instagram. The Web has shed a clearer light on the fashion industry, previously nontransparent to outsiders, and as a result, the previous unattainability of high-end designers is lessened, along with the need for a diffusion brand.”
If this holds true, in regards the relationship between the Internet and the public perception of high-end designers, then why do we as a society love what is good, cheap and fast? The Internet has unquestionably aided in the accessibility factor— if its out if sight, its out of mind; so why not saturate the viewers with the message?
What is Jean Paul Gaultier’s message? Maybe its dressing for less is better than not dressing at all? Maybe its that being chic has a lot to do with confidence as well as appreciation and knowledge.
In the words of JPG himself, “I would like to say to people, open your eyes and find beauty where you normally don’t expect it.”
I have to admit, Target is not where my mind goes when the word beauty is uttered but I think the rest of the congregation would agree: this collaboration is a match made in consumer heaven.