The blogosphere is abuzz with conversation around the recently announced, and even more recently previewed 3.1 Phillip Lim x Target collaboration (see here, here, and here for all of the deets and many more images). Now, while I'm all for a cheap thrill on occasion (friends might recognize this as a slight exaggeration), I find myself increasingly disillusioned by designer collaborations overall - as both an industry professional and a (conspicuous!) fashion consumer. The reason's simple - I've never left a store with my expectations met.
I suppose I'm being idealistic here, but the beauty of a well-made designer bag, shoe, dress, jacket, etc. is not simply in the "design" - although clearly that matters. It's most evident in the details of a piece - the fit, the construction, and the materials - none of which are guaranteed, regardless of price point, but all of which seem to be conspicuously absent from mass market collabs.
As a marketer who works with established and emerging designers alike, it also pains me to see what can be construed as "brand dilution". It's one thing when a high-low collab is a complement to a designer's existing collection - for example, Prabal Gurung x Target earlier this year - we've all got to make a living, after all, and fashion's a TOUGH business. But it's another thing entirely to see, say, the "Mini Gold Satchel" above included in the Target lookbook. For those who don't recognize the silhouette, it's essentially a designer-sanctioned, pleather knock-off of Phillip Lim's own Mini Pashli bag, much loved by editors and bloggers alike.