Last week Comme des Garçons launched CDGCDGCDG.com, the ecommerce site for its first direct-to-consumer-only label CDG. (When the brand was first announced, it was called CDGCDGCDG, now shortened to CDG.) Comme built itself as an 17-label brand ecosystem over the past half century, often on the back of wholesale and its own retail. With founder Rei Kawakubo and her husband at the helm, Comme has grown into one of the more enduring, profitable and independently owned forces in contemporary fashion. But despite this success, CDG’s launch raises questions, both about the role it will play within the larger Comme ecosystem and how well-positioned Comme is to take on a direct-to-consumer brand.

The company never really focused on its own ecommerce until launching Dover Street Market’s E-Shop in 2006—two years after launching the department store in London and the same year it opened its second outpost in Tokyo. Fast forward to 2018 and CDG launches as the company’s 18th label, for which Comme expects ecommerce to account for 80% of sales.

Kawakubo designed CDG’s website herself and it’s hosted on Shopify. The first impression of the site is that it seems to balk at all common conversion and revenue-generating standards for website design. Landing on the site brings visitors to a ten-second animation—users must click on the brand’s logo to be redirected to the shopping page. From there, visitors enter what feels like a product grid shot into zero gravity. Items float up and down as users scroll, uninhibited by product names or pricing info.

Clicking on a product brings up a static page with the CDG logo tiled into a background—there’s a size guide, but no product description.

Aesthetically specific, but barebones, CDG’s site is a drastically different approach than the online presence embraced by the Net-a-Porters and Farfetches of the world, which try to woo users with luxurious design, high-touch customer service and other features that make them feel important and valued.

CDG, on the other hand, seems to operate on the premise of buy our clothes or don’t—you decide. At launch, the brand debuted 40 products, nine of which sold out (22.5%) and six of which sold out in some sizes (15%), amounting to 37.5% of sold out merchandise in less than two weeks.

This scarcity-driven strategy has worked for many brands before, including Comme, but it’s also the antithesis of the direct-to-consumer model, which is often predicated on evergreen, in-stock products that are always accessible. When it comes to Comme’s ecosystem, this role is already filled by PLAY by Comme des Garçons, the brand’s entry level and widely-accessible line of products, including Converse sneakers and leather wallets. But PLAY is sold widely in wholesale, and can be found in big department stores and boutiques alike. CDG, it seems, is supposed to be up market from PLAY, but is still nowhere near the brand’s contemporary lines in terms of prices, which hover in the low hundreds of dollars.

That said, the future of CDG all comes down to what Comme’s goal for it is—and how being direct-to-consumer either enables or hinders it. If the aim is to offer Comme products at more affordable prices only from Comme distribution points, then CDG makes solid sense. But while PLAY offers affordability, its products are more playful and colorful than CDG products. This likely makes them more interesting to a wider group of customers, both in terms of aesthetic and price, in contrast to CDG, whose products are logo-heavy and have limited color options.

It will be important to watch if CDG can turn into a powerhouse like PLAY, or if it remains a smaller business within Comme’s ecosystem. It will also be worth watching what skillset Comme needs to strengthen on its team for CDG to be successful selling online: Can it apply its same, take-it-or-leave-it mentality online as it does offline? Though there is reason to be skeptical, Comme usually knows what it’s doing, even as it ventures into new territory.