Zac Posen is doing it right now. Rodarte had a good run. Nanette Lepore’s got hers selling at boutiques.
High fashion celebrates its snobbery and does not apologize for marginalizing those who cannot afford it but in the past several years designers of haute couture have engaged in the practice of designing diffusion lines. Whether they are limited edition collaborations, such as Jimmy Choo for H&M or lines established officially as a “more casual” (read, cheaper) interpretation of a designer’s couture collection such as Comme des Garcons PLAY, diffusion lines are hot.
Definitely a financially savvy move for a designer, diffusion lines expand the consumer audience significantly. Diffusion lines are certainly loved by frugal fashionistas. Casual fashion bloggers and magazine fashion editors alike have certainly welcome diffusion lines with their reviews. But are diffusion lines really that good?
Does diffusion mean a lowering of quality? Marc by Marc Jacobs is an excellent example of a diffusion line being used by a designer as a truly creative outlet for a fashion vision they have that may not be suitable for a couture line.
Marc who is also the Creative Director of Louis Vuitton has to live up to the history of that classic brand. So where does his penchance for the adorable go? Well to Marc by Marc Jacobs. So sincere in it’s design and obviously not just a scam to make fashion cheaper and make more money, his diffusion line is preferred by younger consumers who think his couture line is too frumpy and old with it’s boucle jackets! Another excellent diffusion lines is by French designer Vanessa Bruno. Vanessa Bruno Athe quite obviously derives it’s design from her couture line, retaining the style without compromising quality too much. I also really like Valentino’s two diffusion lines,
- Red Valentino
Valentino Roma and Red Valentino, which are more affordable yet also continue to use luxurious fabrics such as fine wool and silk. Target is perhaps the most prolific collaborator, housing limited diffusion collections from Anna Sui to Jean Paul Gaultier. Target’s quality of material and design seems to vary from designer to designer. Gaultier’s collection seemed to be of particularly poor material quality.
Zac Posen’s currently running line seems to be much better. So is the lower price point option of diffusion lines worth it? I’d have to suggest like all things you decide on adding to your closet choosing a piece based primarily on it’s association to a haute couture designer is wrong.
I have some great pieces from diffusion lines such as a lovely lace and fringe Anna Sui top but I would’ve loved that even if it wasn’t by Anna Sui. I would pay attention to the quality of the material and cut as ultimately that will be overshadowed by the name on the tag!