diffusion line

Down with Diffusions and the Retreat of the Middle Market

I was saddened to hear last week Marc Jacobs was canceling his Marc by Marc Jacobs line in order to bolster his brand before going public. This comes just a few weeks after Kate Spade called it quits on their Saturday line (though it will apparently be making a belated comeback in Kate Spade stores ?!?!). This is simply too much to take in at once. I know I buy predominantly secondhand items, but I’d like to at least keep my options open.

Instead of wallowing in my own misery, I am led to question where the problem lies in bringing name brand items to a middle market price point or “diffusion lines.” Target seems to do it well. What is going on here? I offer no solid answers, but find it odd considering that we are supposed to be emerging from the recession. One article suggested that Saturday just tried to take on too much at once, but this could hardly be the answer for Marc by Marc Jacobs. In a comment to WWD magazine, Sebastian Suhl (CEO) said “Marc Jacobs would still produce items at the contemporary and luxury price points, while looking to flesh out the middle area—low three-digit pricing—as well.” That sounds like a good plan to me, and remarkably like the Kate Spade approach. While these two brands are in two very different places (with LVMH backing Jacobs as he launches his IPO, while Kate Spade and Company, once known as Liz Claiborne, is an old time contender), they are approaching the middle market in the same way at the same time (and right as Gap is showing a profit!). Does anyone have any insight? If so drop it my way so we can send it along to Isabel Marant and Valentino. If RED or Etoile disappears anytime soon, I will declare myself a groundhog and sleep out this winter.