i know it's hype, but i like it


I rarely see a designer-mass market collaboration that hits the mark. The clothes are usually expensive - not luxury brand expensive, but still expensive for what you get in terms of quality. And when you get down to it, not all designers have a look distinctive enough to withstand the watering down (Stella McCartney + H&M, Karl Lagerfeld +H&M, what’s the point?). Only the Missoni collaboration with Target translated well into the mass market, I felt. And then there’s all the queuing.

But my heart fluttered when I heard about the H&M collaboration with Marni, because a) I like Marni a lot and b) they have a distinctive look in colour mix, patterns and shapes that I think could retain its identity reasonably well at lower prices (lower quality is presumed to come with the lower prices).

The lookbook has finally appeared, and I like what I see – especially a swimsuit, a seriously cute pair of printed shorts and matching pajama top (above), a pair of circle-print trousers. I am loathe to further promote a collaboration that doesn't need more promotion, and even more loathe to promote a brand (H&M) that of recent years, sells really shoddily made clothes. But my frozen heart has defrosted a bit and I confess, I will definitely visit the shop when the collection is out.

The sceptic in me still thinks I’ll end up passing on buying anything, because I just don’t believe the clothes will be well-made enough for me to budge. But looks-wise, I think the collection is a hit – it’s perfectly captured everything I love about Marni, and I’m glad that design-wise at least it’s not a disappointment.

I’m not against mass market collaborations – yes it is a pretty gross marketing exercise in getting people spend lots of money by selling the idea of getting designer items on the “cheap”. But when the idea first took off, I actually liked the idea of making interesting design available to the average person. It’s just disappointing that most times the interesting design part hasn’t happened and some of the collaborations should be burned (Mulberry for Target).

I used to be very interested in the Gap Design Editions collaborations with emerging designers, because it was a terrific idea – instead of just designers showing you a watered-down version of their usual stuff, you get them to interpret a Gap staple their way. The first series in 2007 with Thakoon, Rodarte and Doo.ri was quite good, especially the Thakoon and Doo.ri pieces – I bought one of the Doo.ri shirts that had an attached scarf. It remains a favourite (wore just two weeks ago!) and I’ve not seen a shirt like it since. Phillip Lim did a good one as well, and the Vena Cava and Alexander Wang take on khakis were cool too.

I wonder why Gap didn’t continue with the idea. Is it because it didn’t sell well, because people prefer copies of famous brands, rather than a genuine effort to design something new? It’s a pity, because on one hand it supported young designers, and on the other it offered real design, not just aspirational marketing, to people.

How do you guys feel about designer collaborations? Which ones worked for you, and which ones didn't?

Picture by H&M via fashionologie


Maja H said…
The only designer + H&M collection I bought anything from was the Sonia Rykiel one. The clothes were fun, but in the end the quality was nothing better than you´d expect from H&M and I think I only have one piece left now that I still occasionally wear. I don´t think I´ll buy anything from Marni x H&m, but then again, I wouldn´t buy "proper" Marni either. It just isn´t my style :)
catssaymeow said…
I really like the look of some of the dresses - very me :)

Whether or not I buy anything will come down to fabrication.
There looked like some nice pieces, but nothing I’d personally wear. I like designer collaborations. Some have gems, some are duds. I’m not going to buy something just because of the name attached to it. Plus, I hate those that wipe out the stores only to sell at ridiculous markups at ebay. However, it wouldn’t work if someone wasn’t willing to pay it. That’s what I liked about Target’s collaborations pre-Missoni, there wasn’t that madness.

I own pieces from Norma Kamali for Wal-Mart, Calypso for Target, Missoni for Target, and Proenza Schouler for Target. I have been so tempted on and off throughout the years by the Alexander McQueen for Samsonite rib cage luggage, but after getting feedback that the bag is gorgeous but impractical—number one reason being it lacks a top handle--which makes a big difference when it comes to hefting luggage into overhead bins. No more gorgeous and $$$ but impractical luggage for me!
Anonymous said…
None of the collaboration really hit the spot with me, maybe a bit Sonia Rykiel and Stella as well as Comme de Garcons, in general its always sold out before I get my hand on something I may like. The last one for HM , Versace was so tacky that I wouldnt want it for free (although I did buy a pair of boxers for my boyfriend to have a laugh together, the green palms and all;). Two pieces from Matthew Willamson, a bikini being my favourite, a blue top not that much. I also quite liked the silk top I got from Stella, but i rarely worn it and in the end i gave it away as the pale yellow was not my colour at all. I think the worse was Jimmy Choo, quality wise. This time I do hope to get a top and jewellery from Marni, it looks lovely and the sandals and dresses too, oh, I will have to limit myself though, as my budget is very tight at the moment.
Anonymous said…
I'm really excited for the Marni/H&M collection. The only other collab I enjoyed was +J Uniqlo - found most of the pieces perfect as officewear.
indigo16 said…
Like you the Marni collection for H&M has pressed many buttons, sadly I am too big for standard H&M as they cut very small. I always want to go and look but the hype and the silly crowds put me off, which is a shame because in a way that has defeated the objective of allowing true but broke fans a slice of Marni pie.
I think GAP as a company is a mess, it needs to focus on a greater sense of individuality, every store looks the same which I find dull and uninspiring. I agree with you though it should with its buying power and invest in young designers.
girl6_nyc said…
Im not a fan of these collaborations either, but the Marni/H&M stuff does look good. Even tho the Missoni/Target collection sold very well, seeing it irl was very disappointing. Most of it looked (imo) very cheap. I did like the bed and bath items.

Like you, I very much enjoyed the Gap/CFDA partnership. I have the Doo.ri dress, a Phillip Lim shirt, the Vena Cava pants & dress and the best part, they all were very well made. The reason the Gap didn't continue with it was because it is a sponsorship, this past year the sponsorship went to J. Crew. The designers sponsored this year was Prabal Gurung, Eddie Borgo and Billy Reid. So there was some womens wear, mens wear and jewelry.
petrichore said…
The only Target collaboration I've seen in person was the one with Rodarte, which disappointed me when I got to pick things up and feel them in person (quality felt poor). But I am open to having my mind changed, if something with a good design and quality showed up at H&M, Target, etc.

I agree about the GAP. I still like a few cuts of their jeans (although the crazy stretch-out-a-size is annoying), but their tops, etc. leave something to be desired in quality and design.

minima/maxima, a blog about minimalist style
The Waves said…
I think the only item I've bought from a designer collaboration collection was a Lagerfeld for H&M cocoa colour silk dress, and I still like it. It is the dress that I like, not the fact that it came from Lagerfeld. And I guess that's the problem I have with designer collaborations in general: the hoarding mentality, the buy-it-because-you-can attitude that goes with it. Blinded by the name on the tag, the consumer pays very little attention to the clothes themselves, which means that they can sell anything and get away with horrendous quality in the production end. Having said that, my Lagerfeld dress is very nicely finished, so yes, there are exceptions.

As for the Marni collection, they've done a great job with the lookbook images. The clothes look very beautiful and the styling looks very Marni from head to toe. I can't imagine myself fighting over the stuff though. I don't think I love any of the pieces I've seen enough for them to make into my shopping allowance for 2012.
editor said…
on a democratic level, i say fine, who cares, do whatever you/the consumer wants.
personally, for me, no thank you.

i like the vivienne westwood quote i read the other day:

"People have never looked so ugly as they do today. We just consume far too much ... I'm talking about all this disposable crap," said Westwood, whose tailored collection inspired by tribal prints was one of the highlights of the event.

"What I'm saying is buy less - choose well. Don't just suck up stuff so everybody looks like clones," she told reporters, when asked how austerity had influenced her work.

"Don't just eat McDonald's, get something a bit better. Eat a salad. That's what fashion is. It's something that is a bit better."

these collaborations...they're junkfood.
Eileen said…
I am happy you wrote about this! I am waiting for the collection to launch and will probably check it out as well..

Sofia did a great job for the commercial and it has that laid-back nostalgic feel.

I love how she wore the pieces to the launch, with her signature verdura cuffs, sc/lv pochette and wedges.
lin said…
Maja H: I love Marni prints and would happily buy the right piece if it came along. Actually, I would rather decorate my home with bits of Marni rather wear it! I love the offbeat, but elegant vibe, and how her clothes are not about the usual ideas of femininity.

catssaymeow: Agree! A lot of clothes fail on that front now and I'm not really expecting to be impressed.

Pret a Porter P: The hype is definitely annoying, it makes me want to shut it all out. I've been so curious about Norma Kamali for Wal-Mart after you wrote about it!

Anon: I'm really just eyeing the swimsuit because I badly need one! But if there's a crowd I think I'll give it a miss.

navyslate: I like all the outerwear from the J+ collection, unfortunately, they're not practical here. Otherwise they seemed like pretty good investments!

indigo16: I agree about the crowds, I can't help but feel that some people hop for bragging rights.

And you're right about Gap...they've been such a hit and miss. I think their Perfect Trouser collection was good and many of my friends own them because they're a godsend to office wear. But then I haven't been into a shop since.

girl6_nyc: Thanks for making the connection, as I never realised they were part of the same CFDA initiative. But J Crew went for the capsule collection route while I would have preferred the "intepret an American classic" route... but I guess the capsule collection approach has its fans.

petrichore: Poor quality seems to be consistent feedback here for most of the collections, which has greatly sobered me about my expectations for the H&M + Marni collection, haha.

I have clothes that are 7, 8 years old from H&M and they look good to this day. When did their quality get so bad??

The Waves: What you said about such collaborations is why I'm reluctant to partake in this Marni collection, because I feel like I'm being suckered by a brand that knows it can get away with it.

editor: As it happens, I do like junk food (a bag of potato chips every month, always!) haha. That aside, I agree with out, and I think I'm just holding out hope for exceptions.

Eileen: I liked that outfit too! I like that she wears whatever she likes....it's not about trying too hard to be consistent, and somehow the end effect is one of consistent elegance.
Fen said…
I'm generally disappointed with these collaborations - more expensive than regular H&M but the quality seems no better. The Versace one didn't do anything for me at all, but I know some people really loved it.

I do like the look of the Marni range, in particular the swimsuit (I'm in the market for a new swimsuit anyway) and all of the things in that blue print, but I'll have to see what it's like in person before actually buying anything - I'm really not sure I can be bothered to queue from 9am on opening day so I probably won't even get to see anything at all!
lin said…
Fen: That swimsuit is what is staying with after digesting the collection, because like you, I badly need a new swimsuit. But it's not something I wld line up for.
Camille said…
I haven't really been interested in H&M's past collaborations, but I might stop by to have a look at this one (if there's anything left!). I feel that yes, the quality will be as bad as usual, but that since most pieces are made from woven fabric rather than knit fabric (like t-shirts, or sweaters), most pieces might be fairly durable considering H&M's standards. And I must say, that swimsuit, the blouse in the same print, the men's silk scarf, and the pyjama set all look pretty interesting--although I'll most surely walk out empty handed.
Anonymous said…
I must say that I bought into this hype... Just a necklace (sadly not the flowery one, which was already gone) and a bracelet-cannot afford more at the moment. I tried some of the tops and had a look at the clothes (at least as far as I could in the 10 minute slot allocated in the shop!btw-I was at the queue at 7am and it was not as crowded as I was expecting:)I must say that the quality is GREAT, the fabric are good, and you can see the attention to detail, which I guess we have Ms Castiglioni to thank for,i dont see such a quality normally at the H@M.

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