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Here’s how ‘brand extension’ has become the latest buzzword for fashion labels

by Shubhi Srivastava

01-March-2019  |  8 mins read

Image Courtesy: nuvomagazine.com

The lifestyle of a consumer is now diversifying from the usual ‘Get Up, Earn Bread, Eat, Repeat’ cycle, as healthcare, environmental consciousness, travel and developmental activities are now a huge part of their timetables. The only thing on the low is time, and time is money. This has driven several brands and retailers to tap into the potential of lifestyle, one-stop solution outlets that provide more than just fashion apparel, with offerings such as beauty and accessories, footwear and the rapidly rising homeware market.

Brand Extension is a trend on the rise since late 90s, which started off as a marketing stint as the cost of marketing gets divided over a multitude of products, and gives the brands a way to foray into other product categories or well, radically into entirely different industries as well. These industry players were successful enough to sustain the extension as it allowed them to create a new image in the consumer psyche using the reach of existing brand image.

HOLLISTIC OFFERING IS THE KEY

Diversification is done on different levels, as brands first trudged safer boundaries through basic line extensions with extended-size collections or capsules, then went on to expanding onto product level with added swimwear, kidswear or athleisure ranges and finally forayed into adjacent industries such as homeware and beauty. Plus-size collections, disguised as a step towards inclusive fashion, were deemed as successful line extensions for Nike, Adidas, Macy’s and Target. Similarly, departmental all solution stores such as Primark started retailing licensed products for popular character inspired clothing, giving media an outlet to promote their entertainment ventures as and when they launched.

A parent brand can create several extensions of its offerings to cater to the masses and providing the shoppers a single destination to fulfil all their demands- whether niche or basic. Ralph Lauren is one of the biggest and most successful instances as they harnessed the brand reputation to extend into Polo Ralph Lauren, Ralph Lauren Purple Label, and more, to cater to multiple consumer segments. High fashion retailer Armani is yet another brand to provide a lifestyle solution as they operated through Giorgio Armani Privé, Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani (including EA7), Armani Junior, and Armani Exchange, after announcing the closing of Armani Collezioni and Armani Jeans. It later on explored hospitality with the launch of Armani hotels that offer detailed Armani branded experiences right down to the last throw pillows and night lamps.

Armani's Hospitality Foray, The Armani Hotels
Armani’s Hospitality Foray, The Armani Hotels

Footwear also became a go-to for many retailers as Denim-wear brand Paige expanded its merchandise to foray into the footwear field in September 2018 with a 19-piece collection and Indian menswear retailer Mufti launched its footwear range after introducing athleisure last season. Meanwhile, fast-fashion giant Zara also stretched its horizons to the beauty sector in November 2018.

HOMEWARE- THE RIPE AVENUE

The popularity of homewear is entailing a line of retailers and brands to explore the opportunity to cross-market boundaries. As per recent studies by statista.com, the Furniture & Homeware segment amounts to US $ 225,259 mn in 2019 with expected CAGR of 9.8% (2019-2023) and is inviting brands to offer products that hold more intrinsic value than a piece of clothing.

What started as a trend in the luxury segment, trickled down to provide mass brands a segment that slowly popularised their existing market position. Fendi, Gucci, Armani, Loewe and La DoubleJ started with their own lines that were sold like hot cakes. The existence of Gucci ceramics and Loewe chairs provide the same brand factor to the consumer on an extended level as a luxury wallpaper will span a season while a skirt is worn maximum twice. Affordable furniture giant Ikea collaborated with celebrated designer Virgil Abloh for a limited edition furnishing line that was sold out within days of its launch.

On the masses front, fast-fashion and discount retailers are not far behind in the race to have a successful homeware range with the introduction of Zara Home by Inditex in 2003, to the recent venture of Swedish brand H&M, H&M Home launched in 2009. “Like fashion, interiors are a way to express personality and style,” Camilla Henriksson, head of marketing and communication at H&M Home, told Drapers. “We believe that the interiors industry will continue to grow and we see lots of potential around the H&M Home offer. Customers are looking for inspiration, modern design and a diversity of styles,” Camilla added.

Small kidswear brands such as Rachel Riley and Noe & Zoe spread their categories to offer homeware ranges to help parents transform their kids’ wardrobes as well as living space. Multi-brand retailers and large format stores are also delving into the segment as Walmart launched a series of virtual showrooms online, while Asos recruited designers to create textiles, ceramics and hard goods for its first own-brand homeware collection that was launched earlier this month.

A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT

Several brands have also started collaborating with players in the field they are interested in to inculcate the existing brand image of the collaborator, use their expertise while adding their technical advancement to the mix. Levi’s collaborated with tech stalwart Google to unveil a high tech jacket that provides the wearer the convenience of controlling smartphone features with basic arm movements with recent edition, Project Jacquard featuring ride-sharing support via Uber and Lyft.

All in all, the idea of providing a one-stop store solution is gaining popularity as every brand wants a stake in the rapidly diversifying market, exploit new trends in the arena with the added advantage of being distinguished from the existing competition. Consumer is king, and to provide a versatile range of product categories on a single platter is the key.