The first of the highly anticipated Comme des Garcons collection for fast-fashion retailer H&M dropped in Harajuku in their new flagship store in the world’s most famous street fashion area on November 8th to an estimated crowd of 2,000 eager buyers. The rest of us can expect the collection to launch November 13th at other H&M stores. What makes this one of the hottest news in terms of retail masstige collaborations is that Rei Kawakubo, the designer behind the high-end brand Comme des Garcons, is world renown for her artistic inspirations and philosophy of form and function in apparel, and traditionally, her garments are well beyond the price range of everyday buyers.
This rare, limited-edition collection within the growing fast-fashion retailer is part of the growing movement of creating hype and excitement within retail by bringing in high-end designers to create collections for the “masses.” The Comme des Garcon collection for H&M includes a women’s and men’s line, deconstructed jackets, ruffle white shirts, polka dot scarves, plus a unisex fragrance collection.
Featuring Kawakubo’s signature deconstructed tailored apparel, which is a favorite among the fashion-forward in Japan, are simply eating it up. Thousands waited for days in pelting cold rain and wind for the store opening. The H&M store itself in Harajuku is also quite a feat by incorporating street style and displays that create the appearance of it being bigger and more open -as they you’re on the street but inside -than a typical H&M store concept.
In other exciting big-box retailer collaboration news, Target will be launching what they call their “Designer Collaboration” series starting officially in March, 2009. Even though Target has collaborated with many high-end designers such as Rogan and Isaac Mizrahi–which is still in stores now -Target’s new concept is to make the concept more official. Separate from their Go International campaign which is slightly more youth focused, the Designer Collaboration concept is going more upscale, starting off with Alexander McQueen with his McQ collection.
Target’s Designer Collective campaign has guidelines that require each top designer chosen to select a muse from which to create their collection. For McQueen, he has chosen Leila Moss, the lead singer of the Brit ’80’s/grunge band The Duke Spirit.
The McQ Collection will feature stovepipe jeans, light sweaters, colorful bubble hem dresses, scarves, and studded jackets with an 80’s rocker flair. The colors will be black, grey, white with splashes of neon pink and blue.
Overall, H&M and Target’s continued advances in the masstige movement indicate that there are ways to successfully create a pro-active atmosphere and excitement to shopping by creating conditions that get people wanting things whether they actually need them or not. So far, such collaborations have not hurt the reputations of the high-end designers creating the limited-edition pieces, and if anything, has kept them more relevant than they would be creating collections for only the small percentage of people that could afford them in the past.
For subscribers, see also Label Networks’ story from last week, “The 5 Points of Retail that Are NOT Slowing Down in Youth Culture Markets and Why.”