Alexander McQueen “suspends” the McQ line
To receive the Vogue Business newsletter, register here.
Alexander McQueen, the luxury brand owned by Kering, suspended its secondary line McQ which relies on a shifting creative-collective model and plans to close it, Business in vogue has learned. Sources close to the brand say they understand staff were briefed a few days ago.
The megabrand owned by Kering said Vogue Company: “As the fashion market changes rapidly, Alexander McQueen and Kering are currently assessing McQ’s future as a business in its current form. Therefore, business activities are suspended for the time being,” a spokesperson for Alexander McQueen said in an emailed statement. “The company will support McQ employees during this time until a conclusion is reached.”
McQ’s overhaul began before new CEO Gianfilippo Testa arrived, according to a source close to the brand, but the move will be a high-profile change to begin his tenure. McQ was launched in 2006 for a young and trendy audience, with the first collections including denim, tank tops and miniskirts. Production and distribution were brought in-house by Italian licensee Sinv SpA in 2010, and in 2012 the McQ line staged its first runway show, which “shaken the key elements of the McQueen aesthetic – romance, glamor dark, mind-blowing cut […] and expressed them in an accessible way,” wrote Style.com (now Fashion Show) by Maya Singer at the time.
In 2020, McQ entered a new iteration with a streetwear sensibility, moving to drops called “icons” designed by an “always quirky” creative collective without a single creative director. Recent names include British-Japanese artist Rina Sawayama’s Striae capsule collection and a collaboration with New York artist Kevin Emerson. He also has a separate Instagram account from the mainline, with 34,400 followers and the caption “a new label, built on collaboration”. This resonates with the spirit of the brand: Lee McQueen was known for his support of young designers. The Sarabande Foundation, created by McQueen, also supports young emerging artists with grants and studios. McQ said he intended to give collaborators “maximum creative freedom,” including model Deba Hekmat, director Yuen Hsieh and music artist Shygirl at the launch.
Retailers listed on the my.mcq website include Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Selfridges and Lane Crawford. McQ track shorts are $265 (marked $185.50) and men’s sneakers are $370 on the Bloomingdale’s website. In comparison, there are $730 men’s shorts and $890 men’s sneakers on Alexander McQueen’s website. “McQ is a small part of the house’s business and probably an even smaller part of its profitability,” says Mario Ortelli, managing director of luxury consultancy Ortelli & Co.
Alexander McQueen joins a growing list of luxury brands to overhaul their diffusion lines. In 2021, Valentino announced that it would discontinue its Red Valentino line from 2024. Marc Jacobs discontinued Marc by Marc Jacobs in 2015. it was a flagship brand,” says Ortelli. “Second lines were launched in the 1990s to target more accessible pricing for the wholesale channel. Now that the big brands control most of their retail and online distribution, they have less purpose. Plus, they can confuse customers and dilute brand image.