Fashion designer Vera Wang is known world-wide for her bridal gowns, costing from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. She opened her first store — in New York City — in 1990. In 2011, her gowns started appearing at the discount David’s Bridal, for as little as $600. Today she has a line at Kohl’s.
Why would someone who can sell a $25,000 wedding dress turn around and sell their name to a low-end department store? The answer has to do with money, of course, but it also tells a story about class and distinction. Typically trends start at “the top” with wealthy and high-profile elites. Elites embrace an expensive new look, designer, or product (e.g., men and high heels) in order to distinguish themselves from the rest of the population. The rest then imitate the trend-setters, such that the trend diffuses down throughout the population one class strata at a time. That’s why Wang’s David’s Bridal and Kohl’s collections are called “diffusion lines.”
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