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Saturday, 2 October 2010

Power Collaborations

Some of the offerings from the Jimmy Choo for Ugg collection.

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli the brains behinds Valentino and Gap's new range.

Quite recently there have been more high street designer collaborations than you can shake a stick at. From Lanvin and H&M to Mark Fast and Topshop, everyone seems to be jumping on this money making band wagon. However this does beg the question; is this a good thing, or is it just more high street retailers trying to keep up with the big boy boutiques and make a name for themselves in the eye of the media?

Celebrities and designers have always been used to endorse and advertise products, but in recent years it seems they have imbedded themselves even further into the high street, but is it a death trap they may never be able to break free from? Yes, these partnerships are great for people who would love to get their hands on the latest Jimmy Choo’s for a bargain price (even if it does come with a H&M logo) but there surly has to be some degree of brand damage along the way for the designer. By forming power couples with these high street retailers they are losing that exclusivity that the original buyers of the brand desire. After all who wants to turn up at a cocktail party to find that women you hate from the office wearing the same dress as you!
As well as this, these collaborations blur the line between the high street and designer boutiques, and it wouldn’t be done unless the designers found it necessary. Therefore we have to come to the conclusion that this is a movement born out of recession that is now driven by bargain hungry shoppers who won’t settle for anything less than cheap priced high quality clothing. These designers are being forced into these partnerships with the high street as it is the only way they seem to be able to keep their finances ticking over. Of course designer collections are still desirable and the elite money makers of this world will always splurge on the latest offerings from Versace and Chanel, but they are definitely part of a niche market that is getting smaller and smaller. Not only have designers crept onto the high street but, as of last year, Oxford Street now runs a high street fashion week. Add this to the fact that Topshop now show their Unique collection at London Fashion Week and you find yourself unable to determine whether you are on designer or high street territory.

Looking at this from the point of view of the high street however and we see a different story begin to unravel. There are endless pros and for one thing they are more than likely to have a massive boost in sales from the word go. Some pieces even manage to find themselves on Ebay selling at up to three times more than they were in store! Media hype and attention is another added bonus, as well as a quality the customer will now associate with the brand. If the likes of Karl Largerfield want to collaborate with H&M, for example, this must mean they have good enough product for the designer to put their name to it. Even when the designer collections aren’t being sold in that store any longer, customers will still register the quality of the brand. Customers are left happy and satisfied that they can own that little piece of high end magic and it restores people’s faith in the high street, clothing and the fashion world in general.
With all this being said it is only fair to give you a little taste of the three best merges to look out for on the high street this season.

3. In at number three we have long awaited Lanvin’s collaboration with H&M. The womenswear collection has been created by Alber Elbaz and the menswear by Lucas Ossendrijver. It will launch on 23rd November 2010 in 200 stores across the world. Alber commented," I have said in the past that I would never do a mass-market collection, but what intrigued me was the idea of H&M going luxury rather than Lanvin going public. This has been an exceptional exercise, where two companies at opposite poles can work together because we share the same philosophy of bringing joy and beauty to men and women around the world." The preview for this collection is avabible from 2nd October.

2. Second on this list is Jimmy Choo’s merge with Ugg. The collection is based on the iconic Ugg Australia boot construction with design details that embody the spirit of the Jimmy Choo brand. The collection encompasses 5 styles in multiple color variations. The boots will only be available Jimmy Choo and Ugg Australia stores. In addition, the collaboration products will be available on the and websites. Due for release in October.

1. And in at number one is.... Valentino for Gap of (of course!) To celebrate its upcoming flagship store in Milan, Gap decided to team up with one of Italy’s finest. The collection will launch in November, and comprise a capsule line of womenswear designs based on iconic pieces from the store but incorporating the luxury of the designer brand. The pieces will only be sold at the Milan store, at Gap on Oxford Street and at Dover Street Market in London, and at Colette in Paris.

There is no doubt that these ranges help to build the retailers brands and establish them as leaders in the fashion forward stakes. My personal opinion is that they offer more choice and I am always up for more choice. I would buy pieces from collaborations by my favourite designers as long as they were not too much more expensive than the standard high street ranges and they were a reasonable quality. I would rather pass on the over priced, poorly made designer high street collaborations in favour of original pieces by less known and less expensive designers. It is really down to personal taste, I say if you like something and can afford it, then why not buy it, designer or not. I am holding out hope for an Ann Demeulemeester collaboration with Zara!

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