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Luxury For Less: Fashion Collaborations

Moschino x H&M

Over the course of the past decade, fashion collaborations between high end, reputable brands and more affordable appear to spring up every other week. They’ve allowed everyone to buy into a part of the identity of a luxury brand, at a fraction of the cost, without damaging the brand’s exclusivity.

That said, there was once a time when these luxury fashion companies wouldn’t have even considered the possibility of collaborating with any company they considered beneath them, keeping a tight rein on the brand’s USP. Today, however, with the emergence of social media and continued inclusion of celebrities as models and influencers, more and more design houses are finding that these fashion collaborations with affordable fashion stores are lucrative schemes to be a part of. 

One of the earliest instances of this was back in the 1980’s, when Halston, famous for glamorous, disco-diva outfits, paved the way for the modern collab with American department store, JC Penney. That’s not to say that this fresh, new foray into affordable designer goods was an instant success. Bergdorf Goodman, fearing that by working with JC Penney the reputation of Halston was damaged, made them cease selling Halston’s premium line, Halston Limited. 

Halston x JC Penney

Two decades later, and the high-low fashion collaboration was brought back into the public domain. Following the closure of the Isaac Mizrahi’s fashion brand in 1998, Mizrahi returned to fashion in 2002, designing a diffusion line for Target, America’s second biggest department store retailer. This time the fashion collab was a huge hit, lasting six years and introduced the designer to mainstream America. 

Karl Lagerfeld x H&M

Since then we’ve seen collaborations in abundance, most notably featuring H&M and just about anyone who is anyone. First to take the plunge, in 2004 was Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s creative director, the collection selling out almost immediately. This set a precedent that has continued to this day. H&M have collaborated with design houses including Lanvin, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Balmain, and, most recently, Moschino, the majority of which have been a success.  Whilst these collaborations make up only a small percentage of overall sales for H&M, the marketing exposure for both the retailer and the designer brand is undeniable, something which has not gone unnoticed by other high street retailers and designer brands.

 Balmain x H&M

 Jimmy Choo x H&M

Topshop have been another major player in this fashion initiative, choosing little-known yet oh-so-cool designers to work with. Christopher Kane, before he was as widely known, collaborated with Topshop in 2008, followed by the likes of Mary Katrantzou, Jonathan Saunders and Meadham Kirchhoff. A platform as huge as Topshop, at prices that are affordable to many, has given these fledgling brands much needed media exposure. In return, Topshop have maintained their status as a top high street brand for those in the fashion know. To this day, Topshop continue to work within this type of partnership, recently launching Topshop X Halpern, a collaboration with Michael Halpern, winner of the British Emerging Talent for Womenswear at the Fashion Awards. His modern take on 70’s glamour and sequins is sure to be a hit with Topshop’s on-trend fashion focused audience. 

Topshop’s most famous partnership, however, wasn’t with a designer or a design house, but the famous celebrity, influencer and model, Kate Moss. Most people will remember the model posing seductively as a mannequin in the window of Topshop’s flagship store on Oxford Street, more than a decade ago. Moss’ style has been lusted after by thousands of women for decades. Topshop allowed everyone the chance to wear what she wore and (hopefully) feel as cool as she looks! 

 Kate Moss x Topshop

Mixing personality and style with a fashion house’s brand is something that Louis Vuitton certainly hasn’t been afraid of. Having previously collaborated with Jeff Koons and Yayoi Kusama, Vuitton is currently collaborating with fashion stylist and darling, Grace Coddington. Her cat-covered capsule collection is the stuff of playful dreams. Since Halston and JC Penney, the fashion collaboration doesn’t just exist as a partnership between high-end design house and mainstream retailer selling lower-priced items. Vuitton shows that it is as much about the high-end designer selling collaborative work within these stores at premium prices, collaborating with fashion influencers, be they models, actresses, instagrammers or icons. 

 Grace Coddington x Louis Vuitton

Besides Moschino and H&M, Topshop X Halpern, and Louis Vuitton and Grace Coddington, there are many more collaborations happening right now. Which begs the question – when will we be overrun with fashion collab fatigue? Not right now, that seems certain. The high street is waning and fast fashion requires newer and newer products to be available to the public. The instant marketing hit of the collab encourages shoppers back into the stores and feeds that need for newness. 

Halpern x Topshop

Above all else, the aim of a high-end/low-end fashion collaboration is there, “to translate the essence of luxury to a wider audience”, according to Alber Elbaz for Lanvin. And who wouldn’t want the chance to dress like an Elbaz for Lanvin lady?

 Lanvin x H&M

Imagery courtesy of, Wall Street Journal and

About Our Author: Katie Calvert's background is in fashion and textiles with a first class honours degree in Fashion Communication and Promotion and experience in trend, PR and events. She decided to take the plunge back into education in 2015 to complete a Master of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Using these newfound skills and her love of fashion and culture, Katie has been freelance writing for over a year.

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