Fashion veterans are recreating their brands, audiences, and ultimately themselves in the form of spin-off labels available at bargain retail stores. Designer clothing which would cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars is now available at Target and Kohl’s, ranging in price from $10 to $100.
Designer Isaac Mizrahi started the trend when he landed a deal with Target in 2003. In keeping with his high-fashion audience, Mizrahi also signed a deal to create a couture collection in 2003 with high-end department store Bergdorf Goodman. Reviews of Mizrahi’s line have been favorable and the fall 2007 line available at Target promises to keep with his tradition of creating functional, well-fitted basics for every woman’s closet.
Vera Wang is the latest to unleash an affordable clothing label, Simply Vera, which became available in Kohl’s department stores this year. Wang, who initially became famous for her bridal gown designs, has since extended her brand to include ready-to-wear clothing, jewelry, footwear, and eyewear. Her products are centered on essential design elements such as comfort and style, details, layering, and mixing textures.
Such cheap-and-chic ventures are not without their mishaps. Chanel and Fendi designer Karl Lagerfeld, who collaborated with Swedish retailer H&M in 2004, has vowed to never again repeat the arrangement. Lagerfeld created a limited line available at 20 H&M stores in Europe, and although his designs were successful, he was unhappy with the arrangement, claiming H&M did not make enough clothes to satisfy shoppers’ demands.
“I find it embarrassing that H&M let down so many people,” Lagerfeld said in Factio Magazine. “I don’t think that is very kind, especially for people in small towns and countries in Eastern Europe. It is snobbery created by anti-snobbery.” Since Lagerfeld’s clothes were sold in such limited quantities, the people who were actually able to buy them have been selling them online for high prices, which goes against his original intent of creating an affordable line of clothing.
As designers realize the potential and practicality of creating easily accessible designs, fashionistas everywhere can look forward to this trend of affordability continuing in the fashion world.