Is Brian Atwood’s Diffusion Line Priced Too High?

Style bloggers’ hearts have been all aflutter today over the announcement of Brian Atwood‘s diffusion line with the Jones Apparel Group, which will be available next fall. But no one seems to be concerned that the shoes might cost too much money.

The collection, which will be called B Brian Atwood, features shoes priced between $200 and $400, and its boots start at $600. It’s a lot less expensive than Atwood’s self-branded collection, whose shoes go for over $500 and whose boots can cost as much as $1,600.

But the lower-priced shoes still aren’t low-priced enough to make much of a difference for women who couldn’t afford Brian Atwood shoes to begin with, which is what we thought was the point of a diffusion line. When Jimmy Choo made a diffusion collection for H&M last year, it only charged between $60 and $200 for those shoes. At full price, Choos normally run between $350 and $900.

Here’s the thing: The women who can afford to pay $200 for shoes are generally the same women who can afford to pay the $500 for Atwood’s high-end collection. A quick and extremely unscientific poll of the lovely ladies in our office found that the average price they’d be willing to pay for a pair of well-made heels is about $150, well under the opening bid for Atwood’s lower-priced line.

So we have to ask: Who is this diffusion collection being made for? Because what’s happening is the same company that makes $90 platform heels for Nine West is offering $350 pumps of a similar quality. And in doing that, Brian Atwood isn’t really opening up its brand to anyone who can’t afford it now, and it’s not enticing the women who already know about it and can afford it to spend a little less for the same sparkling brand name. Really — why would they? If the brand and its backer really want to spread the Brian Atwood name around, they’ll find a way to make these shoes cost less before they show up in stores.

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