What do you get when you offer fabulous designer clothes at reasonable, even un-ignorable, prices? Crowds of frenzied shoppers whose mania could rival that of any Bieber audience.
Shoppers in line at 8AM for the Lanvin for H&M opening
High-end fashion designers have been making their designs affordable for budget fashionistas over the past few years through collaborations with fashion-savvy mass-market retailers such as Target, H&M and Topshop. November 20 marked the debut of the most successful designer collaboration to date: Lanvin for H&M. After a star-studded runway show, shoppers camped overnight in both New York and LA to get their hands on pieces from the collection, which featured looks straight from Lanvin’s Fall 2010 runway. Crowds were so insane at the release that H&M had to establish a system of colored wristbands to ensure shoppers, who were admitted in groups of twenty, stuck to their fifteen-minute time limit with the collection. Even within that short time, Women’s Wear Daily reported that individual shoppers dropped thousands of dollars on the collection, despite the fact that all the pieces are under $400.
Shoppers and their piles of purchases at Lanvin for H&M
It’s no surprise that H&M is the site of such fast-fashion craziness. Since the success of the 2004 line by Chanel creative director and fashion heavyweight Karl Lagerfield, H&M has been the go-to store for too-good-to-be-true designer collaborations. Hosting at least one guest collection every year, H&M has featured lines from the likes of Stella McCartney, Comme des Garçons and Roberto Cavalli, and each collection seems to be more wildly popular than the next: the wristband system at Lanvin was developed as a response to the shoe-hungry mob that descended upon H&M at the opening of their Jimmy Choo collection last fall. Target and Topshop have similarly made an impact on budget consumers by introducing exclusive celebrity-designed lines multiple times a year. Target has collaborated with some of fashion’s biggest names, including Alexander McQueen, Anna Sui and Isaac Mizrahi. In the United Kingdom, Topshop’s designer collaborations are known for attracting hordes of shoppers who buy out the collection within minutes; and Kate Moss’s Topshop collections are so incredibly popular that the company has commissioned one every season since spring 2007. Even Forever 21 switched from mimicking designer looks to actually soliciting them with their Brian Lichtenberg collaboration.
Lanvin for H&M Promo September 2010
But the Lanvin for H&M release was particularly well-managed: the collection was announced in September, and H&M has been enticing anticipatory shoppers since with lookbooks and video sneak previews. By November 20, shoppers had had weeks to lust after Lanvin for H&M pieces and design their in-store plans of attack so they could walk away from the collection stylish and satisfied. And there’s no reason designer collaborations shouldn’t be so celebrated by producers and consumers alike: they yield extremely high revenue for retailers while boosting their luxury factor, give designers an opportunity to increase brand collateral among a large consumer base and provide shoppers with an attainable slice of high-fashion glamour. Most importantly, they’re extremely financially desirable in an economy that prevents many consumers from buying the expensive clothing they crave and that has been especially hard on luxury goods providers. In fact, Alber Elbaz, Lanvin’s creative director and the chief designer of the Lanvin for H&M line, cited keeping high fashion alive as one of reasons he agreed to the collection. “I realize more and more we need high fashion in order to have the high street,” he said. “It’s important to maintain both.” He also recognized the fantasy factor in high fashion, both in the desire for it and the way one feels wearing it. “It’s about creating a dream and giving it to people who couldn’t afford Lanvin,” he said. “We thought it was a very relevant move.”
The bottom line? Designer collaborations are the bomb. With that established, here are some incredible collaborations to shop right now and some advice on how to shop them. The most important thing to remember when shopping capsule or collaboration collections is not to hold back on personality—go for the truly special pieces that you know you will never find anywhere else. Whether a show-stopper at your next formal event or a can’t-get-dressed-without closet staple, the clothes in designer collaborations, like Elbaz says, can truly be wardrobe dreams come true.
Lanvin for H&M
The collection includes clothes, shoes, jewelry, sunglasses and even makeup, so you can be head-to-toe Lanvin. Nearly everything is to die for, but my favorite aspect of the collection is the incredible colors Elbaz chose for his pieces—a hot pink ruffle dress, turquoise d’orsay pumps, a Lady Gaga-yellow one-shoulder dress and red ankle-wrap stilettos… Elbaz says the idea behind his collection is “bringing fun to fashion again,” and that he certainly does.
Pendleton for Levi’s
Navajo wool and textile company Pendleton combined forces with Levi’s to produce jean jackets decorated with beautiful, brightly colored Navajo-inspired patterns that were manufactured in the United States—you can’t get more American than that. These pieces are perfect for bringing a boho vibe to your layered-for-warmth winter look. The best part about them, besides the fabulous prints, is their versatility—each piece consists of a Levi’s jacket or vest as an outer layer and a detachable Pendleton wool inner layer, so you get three awesome garments in one. My favorite is the “Trucker with Wrap Lining,” an oversized jean jacket with a detachable wool-wrap lining.
You could easily throw it on over anything and look fabulous. Although I admit I’d probably wear the wrap by itself most often, I’d also get a classic jean jacket out of the purchase. Definitely a piece worth the investment!
Christian Siriano, Lela Rose and Isabel Toledo for Payless
Payless also steps into the luxury-for-less craze with catwalk-worthy shoes and bags for under $50 each. From Lela Rose’s charming flats to Christian Siriano’s glam, faux-snake heels and Isabel Toledo’s super sophisticated top-handled totes, there’s something in Payless’s collaboration line for everyone and every occasion. So fierce. Personally I’d go for the flats—they could easily be dressed up or down, and they come in a gorgeous true red that would be perfect for the holidays.
William Rast for Target
On December 19, Target will introduce perfect casual pieces for men and women from Justin Timberlake’s American workwear-inspired label. There are limited previews of the collection, but the highlights so far are the fitted jean and plaid shirts. They have all the style of boyfriend shirts in girly silhouettes. The faux-leather jacket above is also killer!
Kate Moss for Topshop
Since 2007, the most iconic of all modern British fashion icons has been designing lines for Britain’s go-to fast fashion store. Topshop is more expensive than other fast fashion staples like H&M and Forever 21, but also offer better constructed clothing with more sophisticated lines and detailing, still at affordable prices. And Kate Moss’s collections are always among their most sought-after looks. Kate Moss’s current Topshop collection will be her last, however, so get online and get shopping! Among the luxurious maxi gowns and party dresses that make up part of the collection, my favorite pieces have to be the embellished jumpsuits.
From sequined to velvet to dusty pink with 20’s-inspired beading, these suits are the epitome of easy glamour in the unequalled comfort of a onesie. At least Kate and Topshop left us gorgeous clothes to ease the pain of the split.
From Target to Topshop and H&M to Payless, these days fashion is truly for everyone.
Thanks to these designer collaborations, our high-fashion dreams can become a reality, and we couldn’t be more excited for future fabulous fashion partnerships.