In 2004 H&M offered its first designer collaboration with no other than Chanel God Karl Lagerfeld himself. The collaboration was such a huge success that H&M has since released a new collaboration at least once every year, if not more often. The collaborations involve high-end design houses such as Comme des Garcons, Jimmy Choo, Versace, Lanvin, Maison Martin Margiela and many more. The list is vast, diverse and most importantly draws a huge crowd. In general these collaborations sell out within the first couple of hours and it is not unusual for fashion enthusiasts and bargain hunters (call them whatever you want) to camp out the night before to be able to storm the stores the second the doors open.
Personally, I have never understood this phenomenon. Well, I understand the appeal of owning a designer piece, a piece of supreme quality, a piece that is unique and has a story to tell, but I have never understood the extent some people are willing to go to get this “designer piece”. First off, let’s be very clear, the pieces that come out of these collaborations are not designer pieces. They are pieces inspired by the design house that takes part in the collaboration, but everything else, the production, the fabric, the quality, that’s all H&M. And that’s exactly why I will never understand why someone would WANT to camp out in front of a store, freeze their butt off and then fight a crowd of exhausted yet determined girls to score a pair of H&M quality pants with a designer label sown in the back.
That being said, I do think that some of these collaborations are simply amazing and give “normal” people (like myself) a chance to purchase a more exclusive designer inspired piece. The idea itself, the idea to make such a collaboration between a high-end fashion house and an affordable mainstream brand such as H&M possible is nothing less than brilliant. Today, design houses survive on their ready to wear clothes, meaning the clothes that are sold in the stores. Couture pieces, the real pieces of art that take weeks if not months to make and are fully hand sown, are a thing of the past. That part of fashion is no longer profitable and often puts design houses in debt. Only a very select few design houses still create couture pieces in an effort to keep the art alive.
So moving forward with the times, the fashion industry has realized where the real money lies, and that is with the general public, the mainstream. Now more and more high-end fashion houses have either participated in affordable collaborations or have created their own “cheap” brand, which often ends up being the one bringing in most of the money. While I love the idea of making these clothes more affordable and therefore available to more people , I hate the way quality has to suffer to make up for it. However, just like everything in fashion, I think that this is a temporary phenomenon, which will one day be replaced once again by more customizable, unique pieces. Take a look at the next collaboration.
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