High street designer collabs – friend or foe?

Unless you have been living under a rock you will know that the Kenzo and Hennes & Mauritz (aka: H&M) collaboration came out last week. As is normal every November on the H&M website, it had crushed for a few good hours as there were so many people trying to get their hands on the latest designer collaboration with the Swedish high street retailer.

image credit: Elle.com

The problem I have with collaborations like that is the quality and exclusivity. Let me elaborate on that. H&M is known for its designer collaborations; with Marni, Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Dello Russo, Isabel Marant and Balmain – last year’s instant sold-out. In a way these collaborations are good for people that want to be fashion-forward or trend-driven even if they don’t necessarily work in the fashion industry. It does make it more accessible to the normal Jane/Joe.

I get that people want to have a piece of designer fashion, but it also kind of ruins the fun for the rest of the people that are actually interested in fashion and aren’t merely ‘shop-aholics’. Yes, the high street does help to create fashion for everyone but it makes high-end designs more ‘approachable’ and thus kind of ruining the originality and ideas of high fashion. In a way it makes it okay for retailers such as Primark/Zara etc. to rip off the work of designers, as they have been certain allegations time and time again. Too far fetched? Maybe, but I do think it’s still connected. The reason high fashion is unattainable in terms of prices for most people is because of a variety of factors. Yes, branding (ie the name and how big the designer is) is a major part for the high price you pay, but also the quality of raw materials, the hours than went in to create the piece and also the people that made your clothes and the conditions they have been working under. And of course the other important part is the hours the designer spend on creating and finalising an idea and a design. This is of course connected to a whole different topic about the high street and why it isn’t actually sustainable – starting with the classic example of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013. But, I digress.

image credit: hm.com

The other problem I have with this is the quality and price of collections like that. The price point is mid-range, but it’s still H&M at the end of the day. The prices might be lower than the original designer items but the quality is still high street. Last year, during the first day of the sale of Balmain x H&M they were people selling clothing right outside the store for (I presume at least) double the price or then re-selling them on eBay too. Leather trousers and blazers were sold for £1,000+ (the pearl-beaded blazer went for £3,300/$5,000 FYI, when in the store it was £399.99) and anyone who is willing to pay that much money for an H&M piece could afford the original for the same, even less money. Crazy, no? If you can spend £1,000 on a single piece of clothing then you can definitely get the real deal! That’s what I don’t get with people going for these collaborations. Same with Kenzo, even though I liked some pieces, I wouldn’t spend £200 on a dress from H&M, and I would rather get something from Self Portrait instead!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to not buy them but choose your items wisely and how you spend your money. I happened to be queuing up at 8am two years ago, with my uni friends for a school assignment on these designer collabs. That year it was the Isabel Marant collection and I did get a few things; including the double-sided bomber jacket that is still one of my favourite items in my closet. But I have to say, when you are in the store the day of the launch, after 2, 3 or even more hours of queuing *(for the Isabel Marant the first people in line were there since 2am!!) you get caught up in the moment and end up buying things you wouldn’t normally buy, just because you have the adrenaline rush, the exclusivity and so many people trying to get their hands on these items that you try and get whatever you can. Taking a step back and thinking logically about the money you are spending is vital in cases like that – as you would do with an expensive dress/a pair of shoes etc. Do you really need it?  Are you going to wear it more than once, thus making the cost/per wear and the price worth it? At the end of the day high quality pieces will stay with you for much longer, and that’s what justifies their high price tag. Buy less and buy better is my tip!

logo xo Fani

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