Is it just me, or is this whole affordable designer capsule collection thing just spinning out of control? I bet you’re getting tired of reading posts about designer collaborations. I’m getting tired of hearing of them and I am obsessed with the damn things. That suggests to me that something is clearly out of whack. Let’s take stock of the collections since the summer:
Karl Lagerfeld for Macy’s
Missoni for Target
Albertus Swanepoel for Target (hats)
Josie Natori for Target (intimates and sleepwear)
Dana Kellin for Target (jewelry)
Giambattista Valli for Macy’s
Versace for H&M
Versace Resort for H&M dropped January 19, only available in Europe, already sold out.
Karl Lagerfeld’s new more affordable line Karl , arriving in February, but will have a pre-launch on Net a Porter January 25.
Mary Katrantzou for Longchamp (bags) hitting stores in March but available at www.colette.fr as of January 23.
Preen, Faster by Mark Fast, Libertine, and JW Anderson for ALDO Rise (all shoes – at Selfridges January 16-February 22, at ASOS.com starting February 15, and at Aldo stores and online March 8 – okay, who was the marketing genius who came up with that one?)
Jason Wu for Target drops February 5.
Doo-Ri Chung for Macy’s drops February 15.
Mary Katrantzou for Topshop drops February 15.
Marni for H&M dropping March 8.
Olivia Rubin for Dorothy Perkins (British high street) coming March.
Z Spoke by Zac Posen for Lord & Taylor coming in April.
Trina Turk for Banana Republic coming in June.
Okay, there are actually more but I’m falling asleep just looking at this so I figured it was best to stop at that. Most of the other collaborations are not necessarily so affordable, so it’s just as well. What is curious to me is what the tremendous appeal of these collaborations is for designers. Is it simply the democratization of fashion (which I am all for, go democracy!)? Is it the designers’ desire to reach a broader audience? Is it the designers’ need to reach a broader audience? Does it reflect how pathetic we are as a society that this is what really turns us on? I can’t quite parse it out, but I imagine the answer to those questions would give some indication of how soon this mania is likely to fizz out.
And what’s behind the blah? I suspect I won’t be lining up on any street corners for Marni x H&M or heading over to Lord & Taylor to get my Zac Posen dress. The reality is, I have an affordable Zac Posen dress that I got at Target which I love, and which fits me extremely well. But perhaps that only adds to the “been-there-done-that” feeling about the whole thing.
Once the luster has worn off, the fact is that by and large these collaborations produce cheaply-made-pretty-looking clothes just like all of the other cheaply-made-pretty-looking clothes. If I look back at all of the things I have purchased in my dedication to all things designer — pieces from Karl Lagerfeld x H&M (the collection that started it all), Stella McCartney x H&M, Luella for Target, Cynthia Rowley x Target, Liberty x Target, Proenza Schouler x Target, Zac Posen x Target, Missoni x Target, Karl Lagerfeld x Macy’s (yes, that is how completely hoodwinked I am by the lure of a designer name, and apparently spend a hell of a lot of time at Target) — most of them are not things that get a lot of wear. A few are truly great purchases. I love my Missoni x Target coat! But you know, the skirt, sweater and tights — probably could have skipped those. I love that Zac Posen x Target dress, but I’m not sure I’ve ever worn the Proenza Schouler x Target skirt. I’ve worn that Lagerfeld dress I had to have so desperately twice, and I’m kind of over it now. And it’s not because fast fashion automatically turns out disposable clothes that aren’t that exciting when you get them home. The things I’ve gotten from Zara x Zara see a lot more action than most of my designer stuff.
The designer name and the limited stock force impulse buys which are almost always a lousy idea. Impulse buys are clearly the driving market force right now – a trend which I think warrants a little consideration. Sample sales, flash sale sites, limited time collaborations. It’s a great marketing tactic, so the stores and websites will continue to push it as long as we buy in. There is an aspect of the access to beautiful, exciting, interesting clothes these venues bring that is great and worth embracing. The trick, I think, is devising the format that enables people to make thoughtful, well-considered choices that they can be happy with two months later without having to hide the credit card bill.
The most exciting, if you ask me, are Mary Katrantzou (at $500+ for a dress, still nothing to sneeze at) and the ALDO Rise shoe collections. The ALDO Rise shoe collections are awesome!! Drool-worthy shoes. Expensive, but at under $200, more accessible than their typical high fashion runway counterparts. The beauty of these collaborations (and the price point), is that they bring magnificent clothes down from the stratospheres to a range that middle class shoppers can consider. But which they must consider. They cost enough, that they still have to be thoughtful purchases, and I think there’s something to be said for that.
God … those Preen shoes and the Libertine shoes. Right? F*n awesome.