When you attach an exclusive brand name to a collection, expectation becomes that much higher and often, in reality, what you get is a knocked down version.
Almost every month I hear about a new collaboration between a high street retailer and luxury brand. While these partnerships use to be unique, they’ve become more and more commonplace as both parties realise the commercial and PR success they can have from them.
I’m going to be honest and say I’m a sucker for a collaboration and if I can get my hands on it I usually will. However, this has led to triumphs and disappointments. Most recently I bought a few pieces from the Target x Victoria Beckham collection. This was an extensive collection with 150 pieces across women and childrenswear. I was very excited by it as I thought she did a really great job of incorporating some of her signature styles such as the drop hem and scallop detailing into this budget line version.
Having said all of that I couldn’t help but be disappointed when the pieces I ordered arrived (a baby pink shift dress with rabbit collar and a pink romper). It’s not that I didn’t like them but when I had them in hand they didn’t blow me away. Unfortunately, they didn’t fit quite right, the fabric hung in a strange way and the length was unflattering. When you attach an exclusive brand name to a collection expectation becomes that much higher and often, in reality, what you get is a knocked down version.
Outfit details: Dress – Target x Victoria Beckham | Blazer – Stella McCartney (find HERE) | Shoes – Chanel (similar HERE & HERE) | Bag – Chanel (similar HERE & HERE)
On the flipside, I’ve also bought from collaborations which have been a huge success and overwhelmed my expectations. Most notably, my leather jacket from the HM x Balmain collection still to this day is one of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe. I still love the dresses I got from the Banana Republic x Roland Mouret line. Topshop has also done some winning collabs with the likes of Markus Lupfer, Mary Katrantzou and Richard Nicoll.
All that being said, I thought I’d share a few of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way to finding yourself a winner rather than a dud:
1) Don’t always go for the hero piece
More often than not in the lead up to a collaboration being launched, the press will select a few pieces which will litter the magazines and blogs. I generally tend to steer away from these, purely because they become an “it” item which means they won’t have fashion longevity. Yes, it might be the hottest thing when the collection launches but in a year’s time everyone will know you’re wearing last years collaboration. If you choose the less publicised pieces, you’re more likely to get longevity and plenty of wear out of them.
2) Stay true to your style
Again, don’t get caught up in the hype and buy a piece just because everyone else wants it. If it’s not your style, you’re not going to wear it. Pure and simple!
3) Do your research
Study the collection’s lookbook so you know which pieces you want. This will stop you shopping in a frenzy and grabbing everything and anything. It’s so easy to let anticipation and adrenaline get the better of you so stay focused on what you love and you’re more likely to get value for money out of it.
4) Be prepared for disappointment
Invitably there will be disappointment somewhere along the line when it comes to shopping high street x luxury brand collaborations. Firstly, you can never know what the quality is going to be like until you have it in hand. In some cases, such as the Balmain x H&M collab the quality was breathtakingly good but other collections have been less impressive.
Secondly, you’re not always going to be able to get the pieces you want. When something is in such high demand it’s always going to be a challenge to bag everything you’re after.
Thirdly, be prepared that the jumper you tried on in the Kenzo boutique is not going to look the same as the H&M version. It will be cut differently, stitched differently and in totally different fabrics. More often than not, standards are set high when it comes to these collaborations so don’t be surprised when things don’t live up to expectation, just brush it off your shoulder.
5) Don’t be a reseller
I say this with great passion, DO NOT become one of those knobs who resells the collection for 5 times the retail price. It ruins it for everyone else. If you’re in it to make a fast buck and take advantage of people’s dream of owning a piece of [insert brand name here] then all I can say is shame on you.