In a recent NY Times Fashion & Style article on the most worn out fashion terms, Simone Oliver called out “collaborations” for the pervasive list of high end designers paring with moderate or discount retailers on a capsule collections during 2010. Although I agree with Simone, and frankly, there is not a designer alive who could get me to wait outside for 24 hours with thousands on Fifth Ave. to get my hands on a “designed by” but produced or manufactured by H&M item (that is right, the low end retailer handles the actual production of the apparel with their factories, fabrics, etc. so generally the quality is sub-par), don’t doubt for a second that designer collaborations are only going to become more plentiful this year for one small reason: big money!
Even in a great economy, most high end designers do not make major money from their collections given the high cost of producing luxury garments and therefore the even higher cost those garments must sell for to provide the necessary profit (real money comes from small leather goods, fragrance and licensing). Imagine what an economic downturn has meant to the designers (brands) who have faced massive markdowns on their goods, reduced open to buys and a diminished consumer buying power. That is right, a dearth in cash flow, one that when severe enough, can close down an entire label (Brian Reyes comes to mind). So, what can a designer, whose name has equity, but no cash on hand do to raise funds? You guessed it- a collaboration collection! Designers get paid millions to loan their name and design ethos to mass market retailers (especially those who are vertically integrated) with access to millions of consumers worldwide.
Although I really don’t see much value in paying $150.00 for a dress inspired by Albie for H&M, there are a few designers out there that could do a bang up job if they were matched up with the right retailers. So, each week for the next couple of months, I am going to present you with my wish list for designer collabs. This week: Raf Simons (currently at Jil Sander) for Club Monaco.
Raf Simons blew me away with his Spring 2011 RWT show. The use of color, portion and silhouette without sacrificing simplicity, wearability and the highest chic quotient out there simply blew me away. Here is a selection of my favorite looks (my ult is the white t-shirt paired with a long pink skirt- it will be my nighttime look!):
Enough said, there isn’t a girl out there who wouldn’t fall in love with Raf’s designs. However, most girls don’t have $2,000+ set aside for one look. So, lets find a retailer that matches well, shall we? I need to go no further than Club Monaco.
Owned by Ralph Lauren, Club Monaco is lauded for its great, sharp and classic tailoring, use of proportion and great fit. However, one of its weaknesses is its lack of color- this much black and white hasn’t been seen since Taye Digs and Idina Menzel got married. So, in my ideal world, Raf could lend his expertise in concept, cut and color and Club Monaco could produce and retail the collection given its superior supply chain as a family brand of Mr. Ralph Lauren. Just thinking about this has my fingers getting tingly, making it very hard to type!
What do you think? Do you shop at Club Monaco? Do you love Raf like I do? Would you jump at the chance to get a high quality Raf inspired garment at your local mall that unlike H&M or Target collaborations, could actually stand on its own for years to come?