The upscale drive

Revising the (over)production model

Ending the diffusion lines is one of the strategies implemented by fashion Maisons lately. Why this change of direction? And is it the start of a new business model?

What is a diffusion line?

The diffusion lines, also named second lines, are ready-to-wear collections whose name is similar or somehow recalls the designer’s name. The inspiration and design of these clothing and accessory lines come from the Maison archive. But they get simplified in terms of patterns, working, and materials to offer the spirit of the brand at a lower price. More affordable, or relatively so. However, much lower compared to the main lines.

Indeed main lines dominate the high-end segment of the market, meaning they are expensive. But if they remained in that high-end segment, brands would miss the majority of the market.

So, driven by greed and speed, brands launched diffusion lines as an opportunity to expand the business and maximise profits. Specifically, diffusion lines were conceived and produced for the mass market.

Apart from some trailblazers like Armani, whose Emporio line was born in 1980, many diffusion lines started spreading in the 90s and mushroomed during 2000. For decades brands focused on evergrowing, ever-expanding, overproducing, and heavy discounting policies. So they triggered a vicious cycle that led to an oversaturated market deprived of value.
Now, something is changing. Some fashion Maison backed up, undertaking a new (or not so new) route.

The new strategy: quitting the diffusion lines

Recently, Valentino decided to eliminate the Red Valentino line from 2024 (launched in 2003) to focus more on couture.
Likewise, Chloè is to phase out its See by Chloé line over the next three years, addressed as a – “natural and necessary evolution for the long term.”

So, in the short term, brands have maximised profit through secondary lines. But, in the long run, this strategy has compromised the market and their own image.

Now the market is almost dead, and this forced them to change their path.
If fashion Maisons want to stay relevant in an oversaturated market, they need to do some cleaning. Ending the diffusion lines will allow brands a more focused business model.

Though we do not expect they will stop overproducing, we are curious to see what they will do next!