Sunday, 12 February 2012

THOUGHT - Designer Collaborations on the High Street

Versace for H&M

High end and high street seem closer together now than they ever have before. Yet this concept of bringing a designer name onto the high street is by no means a new one. Initially designer and High Street collaborations were quite small as stores tested the water. They certainly didn't have the kind of big-budget marketing campaigns we see now with the likes of H&M, but it was soon clear how much potential they had. Customers were buying into the buzz! 

So why do people love these designer collaborations? For those who think that it’s just about adding a name to a label, think again… designers usually have a team that they work with but they lead their in-house team. Each designer works closely throughout the season with design managers and buyers on everything from the development of their brand, ticketing, packaging right through to the finished item being displayed in store. Of course, this varies from brand to brand, but designers by-and-large, don't put their name to something they don't have control over.

With the advances in technology in recent years, awareness of high fashion among the British public has increased dramatically too. Being able to live stream the catwalk show of your favourite designer, as it happens brings designer fashion to the forefront and it only adds to the interest in designer collections. After all, the high street provides an access point and a price tag that most people can afford. London Fashion Week has gained wider respect around the world, and British designer exports such as Matthew Williamson, Preen, Mulberry and relative newcomer Victoria Beckham have only served to shine a spotlight on the UK fashion scene.

With the increase in people shopping and researching online, the immediacy of fashion has also increased. If you want to see what a celebrity wore to a party last night you can find that out with ease, if you want to read what the front row thought of a designer’s fashion show simply follow them on Twitter for their thoughts. I've been sent numerous 'celeb dressing' releases tonight for The BAFTAs and The GRAMMYs, as soon as a celebrity has stepped on to the red carpet, blogs and online media will be sharing the designer they are wearing.

GILES SS12 collection
We are getting to know designers better through digital and social media

But still, accessibility is key. When I've talked to customers about the designer collections they particularly love most, they are looking for something that's cut well and comes in a good range of sizes. Women of all sizes can get a high level of design, in shapes and sizes that fit and flatter them. It’s something that makes shopping far more enjoyable – knowing you can get style, fit and design without having to pay a fortune to get it. But if the designs are cheaper but still not accessible I'm not so keen on buying into the hype. A collection that sells out in one day or that you have to queue all night to even get a look at... that's not how it should be done in my opinion.

So how will things change moving forward? It’s difficult to say. There is still a mixture of permanent collaborations and short-term collections on the High Street and some of the designer names now trying this out are huge! The recession has forced all companies to take seriously the careful consumer, the one who has less money to spend but is prepared to pay a little more for great design. One thing has to be said though, no matter your budget you can now find the latest trends and inspired design almost everywhere. The recession has also forced out some of those businesses who just didn't offer the value for money, style or quality that discerning British shoppers have come to expect.

Which designer would you love to see create a high street collection?
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