Sunday, April 20, 2014
In the past week two major fashion collaborations have launched, Kate Moss's second collection for Topshop and the much social media hyped Alexander Wang for H&M.
Designer collaborations are nothing new. Karl Lagerfield famously kickstarted H&M’s stellar history of designer collections in 2004, the first of an illustrious list that includes names like Stella McCartney, Versace, Viktor & Rolf and Marni. And Topshop has partnered with Moss, Meadham Kirchhoff and Christopher Kane.
But are designer collaborations losing their appeal? Are we being so inundated with these one off projects that news of yet another collaboration starts to become normal?
When Isabel Marant announced her exclusive collection for H&M there was a mixed reaction, with some Marant devotees concerned that the collection would water down the exclusivity of the French designers high-end work, by being direct copies of previous collections. To some extent, their concerns were realised. However, the line was indubitably successful for the Swedish high street store, pictures of long lines and stories of ticketed entry abounded after the launch.
Designer collaborations, like those at H&M and Topshop, have long been heralded as a part of the democratisation of fashion, but surely it’s no coincidence that these collaborations became increasingly common as the global economy took a beating?
So, are collaborations more about shoring up names and brands with the always significant media coverage that follows any announcement? Do designers of the ilk of Marant and Marni and now Wang, produce these collaborations in part to gain some traction in a world inundated with fast, and cheap, fashion?
While there is noise that designer collaborations are nearing the end of their reign, the long list of collections headed for stores and websites this year alone (Moss and Wang among them) contradicts that notion.
It would seem that despite the economy levelling, despite the number of collections we've already witnessed, despite the concerns of those perched on the top shelves of fashion - masstige fashion is here to stay.
So I guess the only question left is who's next?