Monday, November 22, 2010

Lanvin for H&M -- really?

I’m so ambiguously uneasy about designer collabs with fast fashion chains. On one hand, the democratization of fashion and all that jazz. On the other, there’s this – people who spend $1500 on Lanvin for H&M. People talk about how much they spent, a few commenters point out that they could’ve gotten the  real Lanvin for the money, other commenters saying that this IS NOT THE POINT -- $1700 will only buy you one Lanvin thing instead of several.  And this, to me, is the most interesting point. Because… $1700 is a lot of money. Something that costs this much is so out of the question for me that I don’t even get tempted. Most designer clothing is like art to me – beautiful, unattainable, and to be admired from afar without ever thinking of ownership.

But fast fashion is all about ownership and consumption – lots and lots, because each single item is so cheap. There’s no admiration component at all. And while every single thing is cheap, the cost adds up. $99-$199 is the cost of most Lanvin for H&M dresses – a tad steep for fast fashion, but very cheap for the designer items. That is, cheap enough to tempt one into buying, and often multiple items. 

And this is really the thing: designer-fast fashion collabs end up costing more to many people because even though they would never buy the original designer, they buy the collabs. They are a cunning way of luring so many people to become consumers instead of admirers, of making them spend money on the brand they would never even consider before because it’s so out of their range. So we spend more, and get… what exactly do we get? Polyester, Made in China (and probably nowhere near fair labor practices) that carry a designer tag – a legal knock off, really. 

So we can talk about democratization of fashion, but really, doesn’t it simply increase consumerism and exploitation of cheap overseas labor? And is it really different from the more traditional designer diffusion items, like perfume, scarves and sunglasses?

17 comments:

ashe mischief said...

You make so many really great points in this... I'd much rather spend that $1700 on one beautiful, timeless (or totally unique & perfect), last me forever piece than expensive fast fashion.... designer collaborations on that scale really defeat their own purpose.

Fish Monkey said...

I do understand the desire to make luxury accessible... except that it's by definition impossible -- so I do wonder of they just selling us fake aspiration.

Haute World said...

This was such a great read. I've always figured these collabs to be nothing but a marketing strategy: H&M gets to sell stuff that they essentially produced for a higher price tag and the luxury label gains exposure, plus a new target audience they could not otherwise reach who might end up purchasing a cheaper item of theirs (perfume, keychain, even shoes) in future. They already own an introductory product vaguely related to the brand, so this might tempt them to get more.

I can say that in Paris, most of the clothes didn't move. I went in H&M today and everything was available, save for a few jewelry items. Also worth noting is that only the tourists seemed to be buying this stuff. I guess the French know better, but then again, they are a little more discerning when it comes to quality.

lisa said...

I didn't line up for or buy anything from this collab. At the end of the day, you're basically lining up for hours in the cold (or snow!) for the privilege of paying $99-199 for a dress from H&M. It might have the same silhouette and design detailing as Lanvin but isn't actually Lanvin. Besides, it's not like this collab is my Last Chance Ever to buy a cute cocktail dress; plenty of those can be had for a similar price point.

Fiamma said...

Oh my God!!! I've been thinking the very same thing a few days ago... I eve wrote a similar article for the website I work for :)

There's one other thing.... Don't you think that these dresses.... made for H&M and so easy to get because they're pretty cheap decrease the price and the value of the real Lanvin pieces.... When it's so easy to get a dress with a Lanvin tag?

XoXo
Fiamma

http://fashion-thrill.blogspot.com/

jamie-lee said...

I think that this collab is great if you're going to buy one piece... but any more than that and I would consider investing in the real thing. It's incredible how crazy people went for this collection and I am shocked to hear that some people spent more that $1500 on items that day - crazzzzy!!

http://pagesixxx.blogspot.com

Pearl Westwood said...

A very well written post, but I cant say I agree with you. I bought some of the collection and I bought it not because of the price but due to the fact that the pieces are beautiful, very creative in design and very well made - in fact I recently did a post comparing the quality to other designers. Of course the collaborations are a great big PR stunt but I certainly enjoy them - mind you I certainly wouldnt have camped out for it ;-) x

Fish Monkey said...

Fiamma - I don't think the collabs decrease the value, since collabs (like perfumes and sunglasses) target a different demographics than the full-priced line, so I wouldn't worry about brand dilution.

Lisa - it's interesting that you make a distinction between an actual designer pieces and collabs. I'm curious - what's the difference for you?

Pearl - I'm not against collabs (I do have my Philip Lim for Gap shirt, after all) as such, but I do think they increase consumption, and labor practices are a concern, at least for me. And hey, if your pieces work for you, it's great! But do you think that many people overspent on this collab because of hype?

Nicola said...

I agree with most of what you're saying, though with one little caveat: for me, a $99-199 dress is expensive, and I would take care of it and love it, etc. For someone who had more money I can see how a dress of that price wouldn't be very exciting, so they wouldn't take care of it. It really does depend on how much you usually spend on your clothes, I think.

I haven't even checked out the collaboration, by the way. I saw an advert and didn't like what I saw, I'm not a fan of Lanvin anyway, so I wasn't interested.

Fish Monkey said...

Nicola - I'm with you; it's expensive and only cheap by designer pieces' standards. And for that sort of money, I'd rather get something more singular. One picec from that collab I really liked was the tuxedo jacket; the rest were a bit meh.

chloe said...

really interesting discussion! we don't have h&m in cyprus so i haven't actually seen the collection but i remember thinking that the prices were a bit much. i mean, surely the items should've been at h&m prices, otherwise whats the point? if someone can only shop to a h&m budget, then they still won't be able to afford the lanvin-for-h&m will they? and then again, if they have 1700 to spend, why on earth would they spend it ALL there!? i reckon its to sell it all on ebay afterwards, these collaborations always end up on ebay at even more ridiculous prices!

citygirlstyle said...

I agree - why rush into the store like a bull in a china shop doing a smash and grab?! $1,700 in one go at H&M just seems ridiculous! For starters you're not going to wear it all, unless you become a walking advert for H&M Lanvin for the next year. And secondly you're probs not even going to LIKE all of it. People who shop in this way are not true fashionistas, they are just victims of marketing hype.

I have nothing against designer/high street collaberations - I think they bring some fabulous collections into affordable reach for the high street shopper.

But let's not forget they are essentially also a massive PR exercise.

Littlekobaby said...

I have to say that while I understand your point I disagree. I for one would much rather spend more money one designer collabs because I know that my weight and sometimes style change. This means that having more pieces is important to me. In a cost per wear sense, spending 1,800 on a large amount of items will likely makes more financial sense. I think the point here is n ot to give designer quality, but designer aesthetics, which is sometimes more important to some people. I know I'm hard on my clothes, and often go through phases of wearing certain things again and and again, then not at all, so for me the more items I egt the better.

Fish Monkey said...

Littlekobaby - I don't think I advocated dropping $1700 on a single designer item anywhere. In fact, elsewhere I wrote a lot about affordable fashion, as well as ethical alternatives.

esther said...

i feel exactly the same way as you about designers and to be honest i don't think i could bring myself to spend that much anyway more so after reading this

esther xx
http://knit-and-pearl.blogspot.com/

aprilbegins said...

This was the first good link I could find on Google questioning how great Lanvin for H&M could be when it was probably not made by anyone making a fair wage, because that's been bothering me for months. Thanks for writing.

Fish Monkey said...

Thank you for your comment, Aprilbegins! I am a bit bothered that fashion blogger community often pays little mind to the issues of sweatshops and labor practices while extolling the virtues of thrift (can I tell you how much I hate the term 'Recessionista'?) I really do get not having a ton of money to blow on clothes; I just don't think our cheap wardrobes should be built on exploitation.