Buried at the bottom of WWD's recent article about Balmain's newly-restored flagship in Paris is this bombshell: The astronomically-priced (yet utterly adored) brand is apparently has a lower-priced offshoot in the works.
Fashion folk always talk about Balmain with a certain reverence, and with good reason: The label, of late, seems to churn out inventively on-trend and incredibly sexy collections season after season (they basically reinvented strong shoulders and the bodycon mini), while also maintaining a relatively small field distribution. Granted, the distribution is likely also small because the prices on Balmain's exquisitely ripped, tailored, and embellished pieces are absolutely astronomical -- a t-shirt will retail for over $1,000 and a runway dress can cost you nearly $60,000. Keeping the distribution small maintains the feeling of exclusivity and uniqueness that pervades the brand, and also ups its sell-through --which, according to WWD, is quite impressive.
However, it seems Balmain chief executive Alain Hivelin has realized that the brand's prices have, in a lot of ways, restricted its growth in certain markets, and so he's "quietly" testing a collection called "Blue Label" for Fall/Winter -- which will be priced 40-50 percent less than the original line. Granted, these won't be Old Navy prices, but it's giving those of us who can't quite afford to spend our rent on a t-shirt hope to one day own something with the same uniquely sexy appeal as Balmain's runway collection.