10 February 2012

Fashion Friday: The Designer Collaboration

Photo Via Fashionista.com
New York Fashion Week has officially kicked off, which means my round-ups will be starting again soon! For now, though, let's talk about designer collaborations.

This Sunday, while everyone was getting riled up about the Super Bowl, fashion lovers were getting excited about the Jason Wu for Target launch. Just as a reminder, Wu topped my list of collections for Spring, so I was pretty much losing my mind over this line. For those who might live under a rock, for the past several years designers have been collaborating with different retailers on one-off, affordable lines of clothes. Recent collections include Missoni for Target (which crashed Target's website on launch day) and Versace for H&M.

Isaac Mizrahi really paved the way for these lines with his now-defunct collection at Target, but the true pioneer of the one-off collaboration is (who else?) Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld did a line for H&M in 2004, which was a huge success for the Swedish retailer and has since spawned dozens of similar collections. The obvious benefit of these collections is that they bring fashion to the masses - fast fashion in its purest form. But in addition, the retailer gains a lot of press and attention, and the designer reaches a broader audience than normal.

In the past I've bought items from the following collections: a wrap sweater, ballerina sweater and headband from Tara Jarmon for Target; a black kimono dress from Paul and Joe for Target (worn to DEATH, literally, that thing was so flattering); a Luella for Target shirt (RIP Luella, we miss you); two Rodarte for Target party dresses and a pair of tights; a Missoni for Target pair of tights and travel cosmetics bag (I was in desperate need of a new one, since my old one was - full disclosure - pink terrycloth); a bra from Sonia Rykiel for H&M; and I'm sure there are others I don't remember.

So what do I still have from that list? The Missoni travel bag and tights (worn once), the Rodarte tights (hanging on by a thread) and the Sonia Rykiel bra (which I forgot I had until this moment). The Tara Jarmon and Luella stuff wore out poorly, I really did wear that Paul and Joe dress until it was so faded it was no longer acceptable, and the Rodarte dresses were just too short (I wore them each exactly once).

I usually shy away from designer collections like these, because in the past I've been really disappointed by the results. The fact of the matter is, the only way to make a high fashion design $39.99 is to use cheap materials. The trouble with fast fashion collaborations is that it's so easy to get caught up in the hype. These lines, when done right, sell out fast and end up on eBay. They're big names at a tiny price, and the idea you might miss out is awful, which is precisely what these retailers are counting on. The fit is usually very poor and the materials so cheap that what seemed like a great deal at first becomes a terrible deal in the long run. I've skipped out on so many of these lines because even though the lookbook made the models look amazing, once I was in front of the item I had been dreaming about I just felt bummed.

Like I said though, I freak my freak for Jason Wu. I tried not to get my hopes up for the Target collection, convincing myself that it was the same sad polyester mess, different day. Then they released the lookbook, an adorably styled French gamine jumble of sophistication and coquettishness. I decided I would buy one thing. And then it launched online a little early, so one thing became...more than one thing. And then I picked some up at Target the next day while picking up beer for a Super Bowl party, most of it for my best friend Shelby but maybe just one more thing for me.

I have to say, I'm super pleased with the line. The fit, at least for me, is amazing and way above my expectations for Target, and the quality is definitely above par (with some exceptions - I just don't think it's possible to make a good quality designer handbag for under $50, sorry). It's the first designer collaboration collection that has only made me want more.

There were definitely issues with this release - one couple in Miami really managed to piss some people off - and I think that the quadruple-priced-on-eBay era will end soon. But as retailers continue to find success, expect to see more designer lines in a lower price point in the future.

1 comment:

  1. A couple things:

    I saw a Wu bag yesterday in Pasadena...and saw the same girl with the same bag today there (!). The bag did look cute, but...I knew exactly what it was (aka there was no mystery about "where did she get that?" that I usually have).

    I saw a woman (I think twice) today in a Wu dress (pink with yellow/black lines). I knew exactly what that was, too. I think the thinner poly pieces could benefit greatly from a good steaming and great styling. Most of the pieces are really cute, I wish she had done hers up to make the most of it.

    I would love to see the more red/white/blue pieces out there. Hoping they start popping up soon!

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