This move comes on the heels of COS, another H&M-owned brand, announcing its U.S. expansion. Fashionista reports that spin-off brands are on the rise in general, from Ann Taylor-owned LOFT to Urban Outfitters' flower-child sibling store Free People. As competition from fast-fashion brands rises, retailers face pressure to appeal to a younger demographic (see: Kate Spade Saturday and J.Crew-owned Madewell). For the parent company, offshoot brands represent a way to appeal to their core consumers, while the diffusion labels' (often only slightly) lower prices offer shoppers an easier buy-in to a beloved brand. The spin-off companies both lure buyers away from cheaper fast-fashion stores and build brand loyalty, making them a sort of fashion gateway drug to the parent company.
Diffusion brands can also offer consumers a less daunting way to shop. Whereas H&M is a general store-cum-warehouse of fashion that offers a dizzying gamut of trends, its offshoot chains provide a more refined concept: COS for the runway-watching, working woman; & Other Stories for the low-key urban sophisticate. As our tastes evolve, along with our patience for digging through racks of club wear to find our slouchy sweaters and sensible work pants, the & Other Stories and COS-es of the world are looking better and better.
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