High Fashion on the High Street

Examining the trend of designer collaborations with high street chains.

The phenomena of designer collaborations with high street retailers started in 2004 when H&M presented a collection designed by Karl Lagerfeld. The trend expanded to America in 2005 with the launch of the Target Go International brand. Their first Go International collaboration was with the Italian fashion label Fiorucci. In the years since then, huge names in fashion from all over the world have collaborated with H&M, Target, and other high street retailers.

The most recent fashion collections were Versace for H&M in 2011 and 2012 and Jason Wu for Target in February 2012. The Versace collection caused a shopping frenzy around the world, and many items ended up on eBay for drastically higher prices. The Jason Wu collection was almost completely sold out online and in stores within 24 hours of its release. It seems that people are willing to do whatever it takes to get their hands on a piece of designer merchandise for a discount price. The hype surrounding the collections benefits the retailers as well as the designers.

Some of the many famous brands that Target has collaborated with are Luella Bartley, Proenza Schouler, Alice Temperley, Thakoon Panichgul, McQ by Alexander McQueen, Rodarte, Jean Paul Gaultier, Liberty of London, Missoni, and the list goes on. Reading this list is like reading the editorial notes in Vogue. H&M has had less numerous collaborations with designers than Target has, but the standard and quality is much the same. Designers include Stella McCartney, Victor and Rolf, Madonna, Jimmy Choo, Matthew Williamson, Lanvin, Comme des Garcons, and others. The main difference between the two retailers is that the collaborations with Target tend to be larger. The Missoni collaboration in Autumn 2011 was their largest yet with 400 pieces ranging from pencils and dresses to a bike and bedding.

I have had good and bad experiences with items from designer collaborations. I have a few items from some of Target’s earlier collaborations that I do not wear anymore, however the collections have gotten better with time. I was lucky enough to get two dresses from the Rodarte collaboration in 2009. I love them both, but the leopard print, lace, long sleeved mini dress has become a stalwart piece in my wardrobe. However, the dress from the Liberty collaboration manages to be too young and too old for me at the same time. Like all fashion, the designer collaborations are hit and miss. Try not to get caught up with the name on the label and instead think about where, when, and how you will wear or use the item.

8 March 2012 sees the release of the highly anticipated Marni for H&M line. Sophia Coppola directed the campaign video, which instantly made me want to buy the whole line. If we are lucky maybe our little H&M will get some pieces, but if you want to guarantee a piece of the collection makes it into your wardrobe, make sure you are up early with your computer at the ready, it’s bound to be a sell out.

Hannah Anderson 
Image – Hannah Anderson

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