PARIS — Fashion's biggest names no longer are having second thoughts about their second lines.
In a flurry of activity not seen since the "diffusion" heydays of the Eighties, a spate of new European second lines are arriving on the market, while established brands are being given a fresh spin and higher profiles with tactics such as attention-getting runway shows.
All the activity suggests designer firms, recently focused on ultraexpensive, exclusive products in a booming luxury climate, are now keen to tap into aspirational customers, as well.
Among the latest arrivals is Alexander McQueen's McQ collection, delivered last month to some 400 doors worldwide, and forthcoming for spring 2007 is John Galliano's Galliano, which is gunning for wholesale volume in excess of 100 million euros, or $125 million, in three to five years (for more on the Galliano collection, see opposite page).
Meanwhile, Prada, Versace, Chloé and Giorgio Armani are among firms putting their second brands under the management microscope, fine-tuning or repositioning them — and seeking to kick-start growth. Emporio Armani, for example, plans to move its show from Milan to London for a fashion week splash there. The move follows Prada's decision last season to shift its Miu Miu show to Paris from Milan.
And Chloé recently introduced a cruise collection for See by Chloé, emblematic of big ambitions for the brand, first launched in 2001 and manufactured under license by Neo Res SpA, a Carre, Italy-based company.
"I really intend to grow this business," Chloé chairman and chief executive officer Ralph Toledano said. "Our turnover is far below what it should be. Instead of making less than half the sales [of our top collection], we should be doing twice that amount."
To that end, Toledano has been beefing up staffing for See by Chloé, bumping up the fashion quotient and taking tighter control of distribution. Prices also have been made more competitive, he added. For example, the suggested retail price for high-waist jeans from the cruise line is $460, while T-shirts run at $230. At present, See by Chloé is sold in some 750 doors, including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and Holt Renfrew.
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"