The Big Debate: Everyone’s talking about Versace for H&M. But are designer/high street collaborations a fashion trap?
The highly anticipated Versace for H&M collection hits UK stores on November 17th, and will feature a 40-piece women’s line and a 20-piece men’s line.
With the recession showing no signs of loosening its hold over our purse strings, you can be sure that fashion hungry women across the nation are currently salivating over the latest designer/high street collaboration.
Will this collection live up to the hype, or is it just another marketing ploy to keep us spending our money? In other words, are designer/high street collaborations providing accessible designer clothing at a fraction of the cost (as advertised) or are they selling high street clothing with an extra charge for a designer label (daylight robbery)?
Karl Lagerfield, never one to shy away from honesty, has voiced his disregard of such collaborations. Although the Chanel and Chloe designer lent his name and face to H&M’s first ever designer collaboration in 2004, Lagerfield criticised the partnership and objected to the chain selling his pieces in larger sizes, controversially stating that they were designed for ‘slender and slim people’. And designer Antonio Berardi, when questioned about the potential for a high street collaboration stated, ‘I’ve been asked many times to do things that were ‘mass’. But if you could buy Berardi on the high street then you wouldn’t want to buy Berardi’.
It must be remembered that luxury, quality and exclusivity are included in the cost of the full designer package, and in the process of translating designer items to the high street, the very nature of what makes them designer is perhaps lost.
An Americano coffee with milk is still technically an Americano, but in reality it is now just a white coffee.
Designer Alber Elbaz has said of Lanvin for H&M (a previous collaboration) that the collection was ‘about trying to translate the dream of luxury to the masses’. Personally, I think the dream of luxury should focus more on providing quality fabric and fit to a mass market, and less on overpriced and outlandish designs. Perhaps the biggest criticism that Versace for H&M will face is that, judging by the recent previews, the collection really only appeals to the young but still comes with a hefty price tag.
This is not fashion for the masses.
Needless to say, designer/high street collaborations have brought new meaning to the phrase ‘poor man’s Versace’.