Are Fashion Collaborations About Affordable Luxury Anymore?


Image Credit: J.Crew Blog

When news of Sophia Webster and J.Crew’s collaborating, I went bonkers. I love Sophia Webster’s funky yet classic shoe collections, and my wardrobe has wayyyyyyyyy, wayy, way too much J.Crew for its own good. Match made in heaven? Yes please!

When the collaboration was released to the public, of course I had a peek. The first thing I noticed was, the design yes. Lovely as to be expected. But also the price points. They were actually more expensive than both J.Crew and Sophia Webster’s shoes. J.Crews ranging in at around $300, Sophia Webster’s coming in at around $500-$600. The collaboration? $600-$700. What’s more, is the collaboration sold out super fast.




Another buzzed about shoe collaboration this summer is the Steven Alan for Dr. Scholl’s which taps into Steven Alan’s casual chic, riffing off the #Normcore trend and creating cooler than you’d want to think Dr. Scholl’s shoes. Although, I do remember the clog sandals were briefly popular around 2001. Now you can get a special edition glossy sandal for a slightly higher price ($100) than you would from the original designer ($65).

Which got me to thinking about a conversation I had with a friend last year about the Isabel Marant for  H&M collaboration, she said… “It’s a great collaboration, but the prices weren’t all that much lower than her regular collection. Like, I’ll just save up for Isabel Marant for Isabel Marant.”

In the aughts, when collaborations were the next hot thing, people literally camped out to get first grabs of designer labels at high street prices. Remember that crazy stampede at the Sonia Rykiel for H&M? If not, here’s the video to remind you…


While there is still a component of “luxury for less” with collaborations, like, getting your hands on that 3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli bag at Target. Or getting cult favorites, Peter Piloto and Rodarte into your wardrobe, I’m wondering if the next phase of collaborations aren’t as much to do with making brands names affordable as they are creative ventures? The Steven Alan/Dr. Scholl’s collaboration isn’t about price, it’s about using the best of Steven Alan’s brand (effortlessly cool) and the best of Dr. Scholl’s brand (cult classic/normcore) and making something together. That would be better than Steven Alan making his own clog, and giving visiblity to a brand that the fashion minded might overlook (Dr. Scholls).

There are loads of collaborations that aren’t about affordability nor are they necessarily about luxury. Chloë Sevigny collaborated with Opening Ceremony for three years, which was more about celebrity (for Opening Ceremony) and a creative outlet for Sevigny (come on, she’s a fashion icon).  The same could be said for Kate Moss/Topshop which is about to release their 14th collection April 3oth.

We all thought that fashion collaborations would be a short-lived fad. Almost a decade later, they’re still going strong. Perhaps they’ll evolve to where we could see fashion houses collaborating… that would be interesting. What kinds of love childs can two fashion designers create? Like, Mary Katranzou collaborating with Missoni? Missioni is in much need of a boost in the cool factor, and while Mary Katranzou is well on her way to becoming an institution on her own right, she still could use a bit more of a nod from the establishment.


Here is my rendition of what a Mary Katranzou/Missioni collab could be.

So who knows? I’m only guessing here. It’ll be interesting as the novelty of luxury to mass market collaborations wear off (how much of that Peter Piloto for Target end up in the clearance section? I saw quite a bit while on one of my Target runs) to see if the fashion industry will turn to actually charging more for special collaborations? Time will tell.



jennineAre Fashion Collaborations About Affordable Luxury Anymore?

Comments 2

  1. charles

    really good point. I prefer Target’s & Kohl’s (Vera Wang) personally. They were the ones that started all of this and stay pretty true to their affordable chicness.


  2. Francesca

    Mamma mia that Sophia Webster collaboration is killing me softly!
    Trying to answer your question, could the 50% increase due to the fact that the collection was conceived and developed as a limited edition? Just assuming here, because it strikes me as it does you.
    I was talking about it with a friend and he, being a man with a pragmatic brain, asked me: “if you had $300 to spend would you A) buy a Sophia Webster regular collection or B) a Isabel Marant for H&M?”
    I think we all pretty much agree with one answer: in the “luxury for mass market” collaborations, quality is what pays the price.
    But then you have the SJP collection an affordable Manolo to the masses, where Manolo offered expertise, production hotbeds but not officially the name.
    Sorry for being too long, but I like reading what you write because it resonates with me.
    Your loquacious fan.

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