Phil over at the Millionaire Socialite blog has done some deep thinking on Paper Denim & Cloth's (PDC's) recent announcement to move its price point downward. He calls this a signal of "impending economic shift in new luxury fashion goods." There are several good points I have trouble disagreeing with. Nonetheless, I'll give my own take on a bit of what he presents.
He predicts that other premium jeans makers (whose back pocket embroideries are probably already recognizable) will join the fray by pricing competitively with PDC in the $100-160 range. I am personally rooting for this to be fulfilled. Almost every week we hear of a new entrant to the premium jeans biz with its own angle. Without exits from this already crowded market the ultra exclusive makers of status symbol jeans must continually drive up prices in conjunction with efforts to differentiate themselves from the simply expensive jeans. PDC's exodus, if followed by its peers, will alleviate some of the pressure to maintain this trend.
To illustrate: How long can the house of quality custom-made jeans keep their prices equal to similar construction, off-the-rack jeans from Saks? And to maintain this without making their core customers scratch their heads or even feel a bit alienated?
What I do not look forward to is companies like True Religion creating additional fashion lines that 1) allow them to compete in the non-exclusive, semi-premium price point and 2) try to maintain their label's premium position. A la Ralph Lauren Polo's Chaps (You remember--Can't Have A Polo Shirt = CHAPS). I can already see the headlines: "True Religion unveils new Missionary line..." In my opinion, this will wither away brand karma and may hurt overall construction quality (as supposedly separate production processes get streamlined).
But what happens if True Religion sees opportunities in the mid-market-- having observed a quarter of PDC's endeavors-- and forms a subsidiary label to compete? Here, I'll take a reactionary approach and leave it to competent thinkers like the Millionaire Socialite to analyze.
UPDATED (2/1/06): This post has made it into the blogging carnival that discusses the State of the Fashion Union for Fashionweek (Feb. 3-10). Thanks to Julie over at Almost Girl for graciously inviting me. Check out her daily summaries of union(ized??) bloggers.