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Agent Provocateur's new line gives mainstream shoppers a brief encounter

Agent Provocateur’s diffusion collection puts enough distance between itself and the mainline to ensure the premium label is not diluted, writes Jill Geoghegan.

Sultry, sexy and stylish- a new fashion dream team was unveiled this week as luxury lingerie label Agent Provocateur announced a steamy collaboration with Penelope and Monica Cruz.

The sister act are set to develop a diffusion line for the underwear brand called L’Agent, which will be released in August 2013.

If we are to believe the whispers on the garter grapevine, Monica was the driving force behind the partnership, expressing an interest in creating a line for a larger customer base after she featured in the Agent Provocateur autumn 2012 campaign. The new diffusion collection will feature 15 separate styles, each complete with bras, briefs, corsets and 50 shades of fabulous lingerie necessities.

Described as ‘perhaps less sophisticated’ than the original parent brand, ‘L’Agent’ is aimed at younger consumers and cheaper price points mean that it will be more accessible to a wider market. The average price tag in the diffusion line will be £40, compared to the £100-plus mark the mainline collection commands.

The Cruz duo’s collection hopes to bridge the gap between the high-end and the high-street in the lingerie market, muscling in on the very lucrative territory of brands like Victoria’s Secret, who opened their flag ship store in London on Bond Street in September having debuted at Westfield Stratford in July.

The diffusion line also marks the retailer’s break into the wholesale market, and it’s this that will be crucial in maintaining enough distance between the exclusivity of the mainline collection and the accessibilty of L’Agent.

Unlike the luxury Agent Provocateur garments, the L’Agent range will not be sold in the labels stores or on the retailer’s website. Instead it will be a stand-alone collection sold through a variety of retailers’ worldwide-expectedm to include Harrods, Selfridges and John Lewis.

The line’s separation from the original Agent Provocateur brand ensures the prestige of the premium label will not become diluted by its association with the cheaper collection.

The move is a savvy one, especially when you consider that lingerie has been one of the best-performing fashion sectors during the downturn. As reported by Drapers in September, this growth is expected to further strengthen, with Verdict Research predicting a 2.2% volume rise this year against 0.3% growth in womenswear.

Agent Provocateur’s new brief encounter could be the solution to some of the problems facing other fashion houses. Through the launch of L’Agent, the retailer is proving that it is welcoming a different, although equally important set of shoppers - although keeping them at arm’s length from the premium consumer.

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