Affordable Luxury Brands

Measuring Brand Success: 5 Performing Affordable Luxury Brands

Charlotte Gillet

As we approach the end of 2023, one of the industry's pivotal events is coming up. With Black Friday around the corner, the competition among affordable luxury brands intensifies. The choices made at this juncture could make the difference between heightened brand visibility and fading into the background. 

Consumer preferences are continuously changing, so understanding your brand's performance and the efficacy of its campaigns is no longer a discretionary exercise but a necessity. The rise of digital commerce and the influence of social media have not only democratized fashion but have also intensified the marketplace's competitiveness. Consumers are no longer spectators but active participants shaping brand narratives and setting new expectations. 

Furthermore, as highlighted by McKinsey’s State of Fashion 2023 report,  data regulations are ushering in a new era for digital marketing. Customer targeting has become less effective and more costly, encouraging brands to seek innovative approaches. To achieve a higher ROI for marketing expenditure, brands are venturing into creative campaigns and new technologies

It is within this dynamic context that we present our analysis of five performing premium brands: American Vintage, Balzac Paris, J.Crew, Karen Millen, and Pepe Jeans. Our analysis delves deep into these brands' performance, dissecting their strategies, market positioning, and the effectiveness of their campaigns. 

By measuring their performance and understanding how they stack up against each other, we aim to provide insights and actionable recommendations for marketing and PR professionals in the fashion industry. Ultimately empowering brands with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions in the lead-up to Black Friday, ensuring their continued relevance in the competitive landscape of affordable luxury fashion.

Which 5 Affordable Luxury Brands have been Selected?

Discover the five performing premium brands that made a noteworthy impact in October 2023. Our benchmarking analysis, powered by our proprietary Media Impact Value™ (MIV®) algorithm, measured and compared the influence of media placements and mentions across various voices to give you an in-depth look at these following five brands.

  1. J. Crew
  2. Karen Millen
  3. American Vintage
  4. Pepe Jeans
  5. Balzac Paris

The infographic above displays the ranking of the five selected brands in October 2023 and the amount of  MIV® they generated in comparison to October 2022. Each placement factor in social media posts and articles related to specific search queries, as well as consumer interactions with posts, such as tags and comments. It provides a clear picture of some brand's performance in comparison to others in the industry, allowing you to identify opportunities for growth and maximize your impact.

Affordable Luxury Brands Voice Benchmark: Oct 2022 vs. Oct 2023

This carousel represents the Voice Mix Benchmark by MIV® for the five brands with a comparison between Oct 2022 and October 2023.

The Voice Mix is a metric that provides the percentage of each of the five Voices that consumers are exposed to Media, Influencers, Celebrities, Partners, and Owned Media. The rate is based on the total MIV®, which each Voice generated for the fashion brands. An awareness of this Voice Mix gives brands a better strategic understanding of the best tactics for themselves or their competitors.  

Read on to find out more about the competitive benchmarking and analysis of these five premium brands.


In October 2023, J. Crew generated $14.4M in MIV® across 4.2K placements. To develop an effective marketing strategy, it is important to analyze the performance of the brand and identify areas of strength and opportunity. J. Crew, a brand known for its timeless and classic American style, demonstrated a worthwhile evolution since October 2022, with an overall performance boost of 207% compared to the previous year. Overall, achieving the top spot in this selected ranking. 

J.Crew - Affordable Luxury

The United States represents J.Crew's most lucrative market, being the primary source of its total MIV® at a substantial $12.0M, signifying that the brand's profitability is heavily reliant on its domestic market presence. Given this, there exists an opportunity for J.Crew to expand its geographical footprint and brand coverage to diversify its revenue streams and further enhance its brand performance.

In terms of Channel Mix, the Online Channel yielded the highest global MIV® of $6.3M, followed by Instagram and YouTube, which added $4.5M and $1.2M, respectively. The channel mix gives us an insight on where the consumers are seeing your brand value, but also hints at the stronger Voices for your brand. Knowing your brand is performing best online already tells us that the top Voice will be the Media Voice. 

In terms of Channel Mix, the Online Channel came at the top, yielding $6.3M in MIV®, followed by Instagram and YouTube, contributing $4.5M and $1.2M, respectively. This Channel Mix not only sheds light on where consumers are most likely to encounter and engage with the brand but also offers valuable insights into the most influential voices shaping the brand's perception.

Furthermore, J.Crew's remarkable success can be attributed to its adept utilization of both the Media Voice and Influencer Voice, which contributed significantly to its total MIV®, with the Media Voice securing $8.6M in MIV® across 3.1K placements, and the Influencer Voice generating $5.0M in MIV® across 921 placements, highlighting the brand's exceptional performance in leveraging these influential voices for brand exposure and impact in the competitive fashion landscape. These successes in the United States, where key media outlets such as Who What Wear, InStyle, and GQ, along with standout influencers like Parker York Smith and Emilie Kiser, have played pivotal roles in driving brand visibility and overall performance, affirming the brand's aptitude for harnessing these key voices to its advantage.

As we delve into the brand's top placements, one example is Hannah Meloche's Instagram post, which topped the charts generating $137K in MIV®. This particular post highlights the brand's success in crafting seamless and effective Influencer placements, skillfully engaging their consumer followings. It's noteworthy that this pattern of success extends across other top placements for J.Crew, with influential figures like Parker York Smith, Emilie Kiser, and Chloé Crane-Leroux, among others, consistently delivering on the brand's strategy. These insights affirm that J.Crew's performance is driven not only by a balanced Channel Mix but also by a well-executed Influencer strategy that taps into the power of influential voices to amplify brand visibility and impact.

Karen Millen

Renowned for its contemporary and sophisticated women's fashion, distinguished by its enduring design and top-tier craftsmanship, Karen Millen achieved $4.7M in MIV® through 1.1K placements in October. While there has been a modest decline in the brand's performance compared to the same period last year, it's worth noting that the average value of these placements has surged from $3.7K to $4.4K in MIV®, marking a substantial 18% increase since then.

When examining Karen Millen's global performance, it's evident that the brand has been exceptionally successful in the United Kingdom, where it garnered a substantial $2.9M in MIV®. Following behind is the United States, where the brand achieved $967K in MIV®. This data highlights the brand's continuously growing international appeal and brand recognition.

Karen Millen - Affordable Luxury

One of the pivotal drivers behind Karen Millen's success has been the impact of its Influencer Voice, which played a central role in enhancing the brand's visibility and overall performance. This voice contributed 50% of the brand's total MIV®, amounting to $2.4M across 409 placements. The Influencer Voice has proven instrumental in shaping the brand's narrative and expanding its reach by engaging with influential figures who resonate with Karen Millen's target audience. Following closely behind, the Media Voice contributed 40% of the brand's total MIV®, generating $1.9M. While slightly behind the Influencer Voice in terms of percentage, the Media Voice remains a vital element in Karen Millen's strategy, underscoring the brand's proficiency in effectively utilizing media outlets to further its brand coverage and impact.

The remarkable performance of Karen Millen's Influencer Voice is closely intertwined with its effective use of the Instagram platform. As uncovered in our latest report in partnership with Lyst, Instagram still is the driving force behind fashion brands success on Social Media. In light of that, Instagram stands out as a powerful platform for Karen Millen, contributing a substantial $2.5M in MIV®, which constitutes a remarkable 53% of the Channel Mix. This remarkable synergy between Influencers and Instagram underscores how the brand has harnessed the power of this social media platform to engage with key influencers, who, in turn, generate extensive coverage for the brand.

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Without a doubt, Influencers emerged as the primary catalyst for Karen Millen's successful placements, a fact clearly illustrated by the brand's top ten placements. Leading the rest was a placement by singer and content creator Nathalie Paris, who contributed $330K in MIV® through her Instagram reel. This performance was followed by two other prominent Influencer placements for Karen Millen: Kelly Piquet, who garnered $144K in MIV®, and Emma Hothersall, whose contributions reached $94.5K in MIV®. These figures underscore the instrumental role of Influencers in driving the brand's coverage and impact, effectively engaging their audiences and enhancing brand visibility in the highly competitive fashion landscape.

American Vintage

Earning its place as the third-ranked premium fashion brand, American Vintage is celebrated for its effortlessly chic and contemporary clothing, a distinction that shone through in October 2023 as the brand accumulated $3.9M in MIV® across 1.1K placements. Notably, this performance marked a growth of 155% in MIV® compared to the same period in 2022, with a remarkable 79% surge in MIV® per placement—from last year's $2.0K to this year's $3.6K —underscoring the brand's heightened impact and resonance in the dynamic fashion landscape. 

Geographically, American Vintage wields a global presence, with France leading the charge as the most lucrative market, contributing $1.7M in MIV®. The United Kingdom closely follows with $467K  in MIV®, and Spain contributes $334K  in MIV®. While the brand maintains a noteworthy presence in the US and China, these markets do not hold the same dominant position in terms of MIV®. 

American Vintage - Affordable Luxury

Delving into the Channel split, it becomes evident that Instagram played a pivotal role in the brand's performance, delivering the highest global MIV® of $2.8M, closely trailed by the Online Channel with $497K in MIV®. These insights emphasize the strategic significance of prioritizing Instagram in marketing campaigns, especially when harnessing the potential of Influencer Voices to promote the brand. 

In terms of influential voices, the Influencer Voice takes center stage as the primary driver of American Vintage's impact, amassing $3.0M in MIV®, closely followed by the Media Voice contributing $691K in MIV®. A closer examination of the top Key Voices reveals the impact of Influencers, with Olivia Yang leading the way, generating $243K in MIV® across four placements, and Bérénice securing $184K in MIV® across five placements, among other influential figures. 

The highest placement for the brand in October 2023 was thanks to Influencer-Voice Sophie Murray on Instagram, accumulating $135K in MIV®. Multiple other Influencers also played pivotal roles in American Vintage's success. 

These insights the value of meticulous analysis of MIV® and placement information, providing brands with crucial insights into their market performance. These insights form the foundation for informed marketing and PR initiatives, equipping brands to develop targeted and effective strategies that maximize brand exposure, engagement, and impact.

Pepe Jeans

Claiming the fourth position in the October 2023 rankings, Pepe Jeans displayed a strategic marketing approach, amassing a noteworthy $2.5M in MIV® through 982 placements. Notably, the brand showcased a consistent 9% increase compared to when it generated $2.3M in MIV® in October 2022, underscoring its steady growth over the past year.

In terms of performing markets by MIV®, Spain takes the lead as the most dominant country, contributing a substantial $923K in MIV®. The United Kingdom closely follows with $542K in MIV®, while India contributed a noteworthy $434K in MIV®. The brand's global influence is evident, but it distinctly centers around the EMEA and APAC regions. Notably, there's a clear emphasis on India within the APAC region, underscoring the brand's approach in catering to diverse markets while also harnessing its global appeal effectively.

Pepe Jeans - Affordable Luxury

When looking at the Voice Mix, the Media Voice leads the way, contributing $1.6M in MIV®. However, equally important is the brand's robust Owned Media strategy, generating a noteworthy $610K in MIV® through 118 placements. This aspect of Pepe Jeans' Voice Mix is particularly noteworthy as it highlights the brand's remarkable effectiveness in nurturing its loyal following directly through its internal efforts, thereby fostering a dedicated and engaged community around the brand. This Owned Media impact underscores the brand's prowess in cultivating brand loyalty and amplifying its reach through strategic initiatives.

Shifting our focus to the Channels, the Online Channel emerges as the top performer, amassing $1.4M in MIV®. Notably, it's worth emphasizing the potential of social media platforms. Instagram and Facebook, while proving to be nearly equal in their performance for the brand, represent immense opportunities to further engage the brand's target audience. Instagram gathered $494K and Facebook accumulated $445K in MIV®. Leveraging these platforms even more strategically can tap into their extensive reach and engagement potential, effectively enhancing Pepe Jeans' brand coverage.

As we delve into the top placements, the Celebrity Voice makes a noteworthy impact. One of the standout placements for Pepe Jeans is credited to singer-songwriter and actress Rita Ora, whose Instagram post generated $45.5K in MIV®. Rita Ora's collaboration with Pepe Jeans London for the brand's second campaign of the AW23 season is a strategic move that's poised to not only continue but further enhance the brand's performance. With her star power and broad appeal, Rita Ora's involvement is expected to resonate strongly with the brand's target audience, driving increased brand coverage and engagement.

Balzac Paris

Securing its place as the final entry in our premium fashion ranking, Balzac Paris generated $1.3M in MIV® from 435 placements. This performance is a clear testament to the brand's commitment to delivering exceptional products that deeply resonate with consumers, exemplified by a remarkable 58% increase in MIV® compared to October 2022. Notably, the brand has also demonstrated a 9% growth in MIV® per placement, rising from $2.8K to a noteworthy $3.0K.

Balzac Paris - Affordable Luxury

Balzac Paris has excelled notably in the French market, achieving a substantial $1.1M in MIV®, with a presence in the United States as well, garnering $119K. In a pattern similar to several other brands in this ranking, Balzac Paris demonstrates potential for geographical expansion, capitalizing on its strong performance and brand appeal to reach new markets and audiences.

Looking at Balzac Paris's Voice mix, the brand has a well-balanced split between various Voices, effectively tapping into the potential of each. Influencers have taken a prominent position, making a substantial contribution of approximately $751K in MIV® across 265 placements. However, it's crucial to acknowledge the valuable roles played by Owned Media, Media, and Celebrities, each making meaningful contributions with Owned Media generating around $226K in MIV®, Media contributing $194K in MIV®, and Celebrities adding $124K in MIV®. This diversified approach showcases the brand's strategic approach in utilizing a range of voices to augment its brand coverage and impact across the fashion landscape.

Examining the brand’s Channel mix, Instagram emerges as the primary contributor of MIV®, generating $1.1M, which represents 82% of the brand's total MIV®. The platform's visual focus and one billion monthly users offer a global and diverse audience, while influencer collaboration amplifies reach and credibility.

Lastly, in terms of top placements, Balzac Paris draws considerable strength from the Influencers and Celebrities Voices. American actress Kelly Rutherford's Instagram posts command the highest positions, generating $78.4K and $39.2K in MIV®, respectively. Influencers like Julie Lellouche, with $27.1K in MIV®, and Georgie Dobson, contributing $26.8K in MIV®, among other prominent figures, have played a pivotal role in bolstering Balzac Paris's MIV®. This diversified influence landscape underscores the brand's adeptness in harnessing influential voices to amplify its brand presence and resonate with its audience.

How to Benchmark your Affordable Luxury Brand

This insight aims to help you gain more awareness about successful marketing strategies. It also demonstrates tactics some of the best premium fashion brands use to optimize their brand performance globally.

Do you want to learn more about your brand's position globally and locally? How it compares to your competitors? For that, you need a deeper dive into your brand's performance analytics. Doing so, you can gain valuable insights into your campaigns' effectiveness and identify areas for improvement

Additionally, you can measure your brand's global and local position and compare it to your competitors, helping you make informed decisions to optimize your brand performance.

If this insight on affordable luxury brands has sparked your interest, start benchmarking your fashion brand today by clicking on the link below.

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