Home Fashion The rising tide of haute couture designers signing on with H&M. High...

The rising tide of haute couture designers signing on with H&M. High end comes finally converging with the masses…

Image sources: UK Vogue. H&M creative advisor Margareta van den Bosch with Donatella Versace.

Is there ever a time when something (or someone) can be considered just too commercial? Have you ever looked around and wondered just how a certain celebrity or brand has seemed to blow up out of nowhere and become the latest thing to endorse in every product possible? By now a select few names should come to mind.

This brings me to the main point: fashion designers jumping on the bandwagon of celebrity endorsement. Nothing too new there, but what is beginning to raise eyebrows is the steady increase of entrenched haute couture designers making deals with mass market fashion houses, which as late as 2008 was seen as taboo.

The newest inductee of the H&M collaborative circuit, now includes that of Versace, which is slated to hit stores in November. The Italian designer adds to the long list that has worked with the second largest retailer in the world to ‘bring affordable fashion to all demographics.’

However, Donatella declined offers in the past to do a lower priced collection. At a New York Times Talk Series in 2008, Donatella told the audience, “I respect everyone who does [those types of lines]. But the reason I didn’t do it is because I work very hard to put the Versace line in the luxury section. I think to put the Versace line in H&M would confuse the brand.”

But conveniently in June 2010, in an attempt to end excess spending within the company, Versace cut 26% of its workforce  and announced the company expects to make up for losses by expanding the range and availability of their products (which now seems to include affordability).

In the past, Karl Lagerfeld, Jimmy Choo, Stella McCartney, and Lanvin have all joined forces with H&M. As the list continues to grow, with the most recent addition of David Beckham, there has to be a reason why it’s now become acceptable for such high end designers to distribute to lower end clientele (aka the masses).

So what is it about these designer names that make it irresistible to have in our closets? Perhaps it’s the allure of wearing the same threads as a celebrity on the red carpet or the feeling of accomplishment of reaching a certain status to enjoy a ‘luxury brand.’ News flash: majority of celebrities don’t even have to buy the majority (if any) of the designer clothing they do wear. “Designers are totally pre-occupied with getting stars to wear their clothes to all the awards and ceremonies. The irony is, that designers still want the public to think that celebrities buy their clothes off the rack, which is rarely the case,” says Crystal Moffett-Lourd, former West Coast editor of Allure.  Is it any surprise then as high end designers are feeling the pinch of dismal economics that they are now being forced to go to bed with fashion houses such as H&M? But at least to the credit they’re sexing up the relationship…

(article continues next page)