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The Implications of Designer Collaborations

After my own experience with the Isabel Marant Pour H&M collaboration (I got one full outfit in my shopping bag before the site kicked me off and was able to get all my desired items aside from a black dress in the end), it brought me back to the vast collaborations over the past few years – namely, Karl Lagerfeld for H&M, Missoni for Target, Marni for H&M, 3.1 Philip Lim for Target, Alexander Wang for Uniqlo.

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In remembering all of these “successful” lines, I was inspired to investigate how these designers fare when partnering with fast fashion retailers. The idea of purchasing high-end merchandise at a lower price point is admirable and can benefit consumers, retailers, and designers alike.

The designer reaches a broader, new audience, the retailer seems to do well with the big name. Almost all designer collaborations have sold out within a week. Meanwhile, consumers get quality pieces for their wardrobe at a cheap price with an impressive tag. But it is not all beaded boleros and fabulous fringed booties – is it?

Brand Butchering?

Some shoppers argue that these collaborations diminish the value of the brand when the item’s prices are slashed. For instance, carrying a $500 Philip Lim bag doesn’t seem to mean as much when you can buy it on eBay or from Target directly for $50. While some argue they clearly aren’t the same, there may be a point here. Do these collaborations really help the designer build a reputable brand while keeping in tune with the high-end consumer?

Consumer Cop-Outs

Many of these collaborations have fallen into the trap of offering low-end versions of the items in the designer’s previous collections. Without original work and design from the collaborator, these fast fashion retailers are just providing consumers with a new type of knockoff.

No Press is Bad Press?

The retailer’s e-commerce platforms can’t seem to keep up with demand. Technical traffic issues and disappointed empty-carted shoppers has led to extensive backlash from consumers on Twitter and other social media. And while these lines bring the fast fashion giants (aka low cost retailers) a lot of buzz, do these complaints sting any less? Another possible implication for the retailer is a lawsuit over frenzied fashion injuries at the crowded launches – though I feel the free Crumbs cupcakes H&M handed out during November’s Isabel Marant Pour’s launch night may have helped cure any wounds.

Even with these drawbacks, I can’t say I won’t be in line at the next exciting designer-retailer collaboration – Peter Pilotto for Target. Will you?

Photo Credit: STEVE & CHARLIE on flickr

Liz Smith Liz Smith is a graduate of New York University and has been passionate about helping people make better financial decisions since her college days. Liz has been writing for SmartAsset for more than four years. Her areas of expertise include retirement, credit cards and savings. She also focuses on all money issues for millennials. Liz's articles have been featured across the web, including on AOL Finance, Business Insider and WNBC. The biggest personal finance mistake she sees people making: not contributing to retirement early in their careers.
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