Advanced Contemporary: The New Price Point That’s a Sweet Spot For Designers

Leah Bourne
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3.1 Phillip Lim - Runway - Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2015

Phillip Lim, which falls into “advanced contemporary” price point. Photo: Getty

You want designer clothes, but you don’t want to take out a loan to buy a single dress? Meet “Advanced Contemporary,” a term for the price point that The New York Times is heralding as the new sweet spot for a number of designers thanks to high consumer demand and not much price competition.

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So what exactly is it? It has nothing to do with appealing to older women—”advanced” threw us off a bit too—and essentially means prices that start in the $500 range and go up to around $1,200 (which is where “accessible luxury” starts).

Apparently it’s a category that Marc Jacobs is looking to capitalize on as he folds his secondary line Marc by Marc Jacobs into his main line. Jacobs’ current CEO, Sebastian Suhl, told Women’s Wear Daily that he sees an opportunity to sell in “price points above $500 in contemporary…There’s a market out there for that,” and also not a lot of competition. Contemporary fashion—think designers like Rebecca Taylor and Diane von Furstenberg (and also where Marc by Marc Jacobs sat)—have traditionally hovered in the $500 and under range.

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To be sure, the team over at Marc Jacobs isn’t the first mastermind this category—designers like Alexander Wang and Phillip Lim have been in this sweet spot for a while, and it’s been a big part of their success. Brands from Mulberry to Tamara Mellon have also reported that some of their current top sellers fall into the “500 club” or under $500 dollars—expensive, of course, but cheaper than most of their other offerings.

And while it’s not exactly surprising that this starter designer category has been a big win, the real question for luxury brands remains how to profit from aspirational consumers without diluting what made their brands a success to begin with.

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