Another day, another spin-off fashion brand declares plans to take over your wardrobe. Today, European chain & Other Stories announced it will open its first-ever store in the United States. The retailer is owned by the Swedish H&M group and offers sophisticated, Euro-flavored women's bags, shoes, an innovative beauty line, and ready-to-wear. Its first U.S. outpost will open at the end of 2014, smack-dab in the middle of New York's shopping mecca, on Broadway in Soho. & Other Stories' website, which currently does not ship outside Europe, will also begin shipping to the U.S at that time. Sounds like cause for celebration to us!
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.