In the past, partitioned design houses have made it easy to show off your changing style and your ever progressing bank account. Where once upon a time you could only afford Armani Exchange, for example, now you’re decked out in Armani Collezioni suits. Likewise, avant-garde design house Dolce & Gabbana has seen huge success with both its upscale Dolce&Gabbana luxury brand and the more casual, urban D&G line. But now the Dolce & Gabbana house is narrowing its focus by eliminating the D&G line in a move that has surprised the luxury and fashion world.
At first glance, it seems shocking to remove a label like D&G that has done so well at a lower price point. But therein lies the problem: assuming that a brand like Dolce & Gabbana needs a lower price point to survive. In a world where Maseratis and Bugattis still sell, it seems that not only are luxury brands thriving, but their high end consumers are actually demanding the exclusivity of brands that only cater to the absolute best. Luxury consumption consultant Jim Taylor spoke to the Wall Street Journal this week about the Dolce & Gabbana merge, where he told them that just the fact that D&G is in the picture devalues Dolce & Gabbana as an ultra luxury brand.
According to Taylor, houses like Dolce & Gabbana have only two options in the current cultural climate – either go all out and cater to everyone with scores of multiple brand levels (Michael Kors and Calvin Klein come to mind), or fully commit to "simply [being] sublime" and focus the brand’s attention on “the roughly 20 percent of luxury consumers who shop without regard to price.”
Dolce & Gabbana has clearly made its choice. Whether other luxury brand labels will follow suit remains to be seen.
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