The Swedish fast-fashion giant H&M has driven throngs of shoppers through its doors with designer collaborations. Upon announcing their newest collection in November 2013 with Isabel Marant, the industry continues to applaud both the designers and H&M for feeding ordinary fashion fan's thirst for designer goods. However, as many retailers have discovered, introducing a designer collection at a "mass" price-point does not guarantee good sales results. Why push to offer these collaborations so frequently?
Educating and introducing a mass customer to a new designer may be one reason. The media and publicity around these events - the "launches" - is another, more likely rationale. Do the customers lining up appreciate the design of the garment they just purchased - and does the item even truly represent the designer's true aesthetic?
StyleZeitgeist editor Eugene Rabkin insists that the customers who shop 'cheap & chic' collections are not getting fashion in truest sense of the word, but rather just 'the Coles Notes' version of the book. And H&M's own design head Margareta van den Bosch seems to share the sentiment, often saying, "accept the fact that some trends are just not to their [our customer's] taste. Customers are often conservative."
It's difficult to argue with H&M's business success, and the question of the mass-merchant's design integrity and merit seems almost irrelevant when the consumer - those we design for - continue to vote for the retailers offering with their wallets.