Building the First Bridge

We’ve all seen the Michael Kors line at Macy’s and the William Rast clothing at Target, right? While it seems as if it’s a relatively new concept, for designers to create a line of clothing at a lower price point to bring their wares to the masses, it has actually been around for close to 30 years!

Say hello to the bridge line.

The bridge line is defined as a line of clothing used to bridge the gap between expensive and moderate price points in clothing. Donna Karen produced DKNY, Calvin Klein has CK and all pieces are available at a lower price point than their higher priced designer counterpoints created within the same fashion house. Big box Kohl’s brought consumers Vera Wang and Target has introduced their International GO line, where it brings in an international designer to create a line for consumers, again, at a much lower price point than you would find at Saks or Barneys.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s, $800 would buy a designer suit. But, when the cost of a jacket alone soared to $1000 the demand decreased. Designers were seeing a drop in their higher end fashion pieces.  Enter fashion house Halston.  In 1983, the designer created a concept.  He signed an agreement to bring “fashion to the masses” when the company brought a lower priced line to the department store, JC Penney.  At the time, a very controversial move, he was the first designer to realize the potential of licensing himself.

While a benefit for us consumers, and visionary for the time, it came at a price for the designer.  High end stores like Bergdorf Goodman pulled his clothes from their store.  At the time of the agreement, he had already sold the business, changing hands from one corporation to another. In 1984, he tried to buy back the business, but was unsuccessful. No one wanted to touch the company.

The company has picked itself up and dusted off, recently adding Sarah Jessica Parker as their creative director for the Halston Heritage line.  But had some bumps and bruises along the way.  I applaud Mr. Halston for having foresight.  With every mistake, we are able to see how NOT to do it, and improve on the techniques and strategies to make it better the next time around.

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