Brands and Diffusion Lines: A Case Study re Prada and Miu Miu

For those who may not know, I manage brands in primarily three industries, one being fashion.  I am currently taking supplemental courses in managing fashion and luxury brands to keep my knowledge current and up-to-date.  Translation:  I love academia.  I’d be a career student if it was a viable business model.

Today’s topic arises from an article in System, but reviewed and critiqued by fashion blog, the Business of Fashion, on the relationship between high end fashion lines and their diffusion lines:

Diffusion lines are a secondary line of merchandise created by a high-end fashion house or fashion designer that retails at lower prices. Historically, fashion designers have created diffusion lines to increase revenues by reaching a different, but larger market by selling collections under a different brand name at a lower price point.  Historically, it was not good for the business when there was any blurring between the high end line and the diffusion line.  They were to be distinct – particularly in price.

Whether you realized it or not, you are familiar with these concepts:

Donna Karen —->  DKNY
Calvin Klein —> CK
Marc Jacobs —> Marc
Ann Taylor —> LOFT
Vera Want —> Simply Vera
Armani —> Armani Exchange

Prada, a high end fashion line that I like for its very classic, understated look, started a diffusion line called Miu Miu in 1992.  I too like that line for its classic edge.  However, according to Business of Fashion, “[a]s Miu Miu grows in size and scale, the need to clearly distinguish the brand from Prada has become a much-discussed topic at the company’s Milan headquarters.  […]  So we put the question to Miuccia Prada herself: Whats the difference between Prada and Miu Miu? If, indeed there are differences, why not articulate them? Perhaps through a fashion shoot or a statement?”  The BoF article talked about the pricing points not being that much different.

Here’s Miuccia Prada statement regarding the difference between the two brands:

“Designing for me is a very complex process. There are many ideas that I want to express in one object, very often contradictory. The creative process in Miu Miu is completely different from that of Prada. Miu Miu is not as complicated and though out as Prada. Rather than being young, Miu Miu is immediate. Prada is very sophisticated and considered; Miu Miu is much more naïve. The solution, when I am working on Miu Miu, has to come immediately, instinctively, spontaneously with whatever is available at the moment. If I think three times, I stop.”

Here is a link to the article along with side-by-side looks comparing Prada with that of Miu Miu. Once you look at the side-by-side, you can certainly see the veracity of Miuccia Prada’s statement.

In my opinion, this is evidence of the evolution of diffusion lines – where diffusion lines can have the power to stand on their own and don’t necessarily have to derive their power (and pricing strategies) from the high end line.  In my opinion, Miuccia Prada is saying that PRICE no longer has to be the dividing line between high end brand and diffusion brand.

Did you check out the link to the photo shoot and article?  What do you think Miuccia Prada’s statement says about the evolution of the diffusion line?


One Comment Add yours

  1. Melanie says:

    I realize this post is about two years old, but I stumbled on it via Google searching whether Miu Miu is truly considered a diffusion line of Prada. I would argue that Miu Miu is a standalone high fashion brand in its own right, with its own raving fans, that stands alongside Prada as an equal, not secondary line. The similar price points must have something to do with it.


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