At last, after selling a minority stake in his business, and hiring Josh Sparks to replace the CEO who abruptly left in May, Thom Browne is expanding. Sparks had said he wanted to cut prices on Browne’s slim-cut flood pants, which retail for around $2,000. But instead of marking down Browne’s signature line, the label will launch two lower-priced collections, 30 to 40 percent cheaper than his main line, thus not at all devaluing Browne’s current flood offerings. The new lines don’t quite have names yet, but are unofficially called Thom Browne “classics” and Thom Browne “red/white/blue.” Launching for spring 2010, classics will include gray suits, white cotton oxfords, navy coats with gold buttons, and khaki pants, while red/white/blue will include preppy outerwear, blazers, pants, cardigans, and polos. The lines are expected to grow to 50 percent of the collection and increase Browne’s customer base, perhaps to include all those laid-off bankers who have been selling all their Thom Browne suits to consignment shops. Browne explains, “It will still be for that Thom Browne guy, but now that guy will have things to wear every day for every occasion.”
Also looking to expand their customer base are rag & bone designers Marcus Wainwright and David Neville. They just opened a giant, fancy new store on Mercer Street — their biggest yet. Though the label expected to pull in $10 million in wholesale volume for womenswear alone this year, insiders say they’re bringing in more than $20 million wholesale. Their clothes have the same no-nonsense appeal of the Olsens’ lines, which department stores sell in the recession without marking down: They’re Über wearable, “not frivolous in any way,” and made in the U.S.A.!
Launching for spring, the rag & bone/JEAN line will include three styles of jeans in eight colorways while rag & bone/SHIRT will include seven styles, each in three colorways. The new lines wholesale for $70 to $80 while the main line wholesales for $60 to $860. We can’t wait. More brands are bound to launch lower-priced lines, too. Fashion is no longer for the disgustingly wealthy, but also for the people who make only decent salaries.