Remnants of another market: fashion abandons second lines

Because they have lost the sense, they had twenty years ago. Because they no longer create engagement with consumers with less purchasing power, especially young people. Because changes in the scenario have made them counterproductive to protecting the reputation of brands. So not all of them, but a discreet and significant number of them, have decided to close their second lines


1994-2011 D&G. 2003-2024 Red Valentino. 2001-2023 See by Chloè. 1989-2018 Versus Versace. 2000-2015 Marc by Marc Jacobs. 2000-2015 Studio Pollini. 2011-2021 Victoria, Victoria Beckham. These are not random dates and brands. We could, in fact, file this list under: once upon a time, there were second lines. Today they risk extinction in a market that had entirely changed since the 2000s when diffusion lines began to increase. Various factors are putting them out of business, not least the need for brands to give certainty, authority, and continuity to one of the most “sensitive” values in luxury: brand reputation.

Fashion abandons second lines

The reasons that prompted brands to launch them are the same ones that are now causing their disappearance. About 20 years ago, more youthful, more casual, and affordable product lines served to attract new consumers and spread the word about the brand. They did this very well until the market changed dramatically. In other words: until casualization became the norm. The doubts ended with the pandemic. The reduction in sales no longer covered the costs of diffusion lines and confirmed a risk that had emerged in previous seasons. It can damage a brand’s image and reputation. How? By making it lose desirability and exclusivity, fundamental factors on which the luxury industry has always rested (and today even more so).

Just to make money

“If a diffusion brand has no integrity and the collection is just a way of making money, consumers notice,” Lydia King, UK buying director for several department stores, tells Business of Fashion. In other words: ‘Integrity of design, diversified product aesthetics and different prices’. So what happened? Simple. The second lines often became soft copies of the main lines, whose distribution ended up being too broad, involving sales outlets not in keeping with the brand’s prestige. As a result, the boom in fast fashion and streetwear, together with the growth of second-hand, asphyxiated the second lines.

Beginning and End

Dolce & Gabbana understood this in 2011, putting an end to the D&G brand. Then came all the others. Valentino has already extinguished the light of Red Valentino, Chloè of its See by Chloè, and Just Cavalli seems destined to meet the same end. But there are also second lines that enjoy excellent health. For example, Miu Miu (Prada), MM6 Maison Margiela, Emporio Armani. (mv)

Pictured: the 2018 campaign of Red Valentino, Valentino’s second line

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