The Problem With Luxury x Fast Fashion Collaborations

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 6 months ago | Features

Image: H&M store. Image source

Giambattista Valli is the latest label to collaborate with a fast fashion giant, announcing its upcoming H&M collection at Cannes Film Festival, with the help of celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Chiara Ferragni. The Italian-born Paris-based ready-to-wear and couture designer has an extensive list of celebrity fans, which is why this kind of collaboration is so problematic – because it gives fast fashion a good name.  

The collab collection is the latest in H&M’s history of designer partnerships – and it is heavy on the tulle. H&M's luxury collabs began with a Karl Lagerfeld collection back in 2004, and have included Lanvin, Versace and Alexander Wang since then. Each luxury x fast fashion collection has served to strengthen the H&M brand by making it cool by association.

As WWD points out, “fashion lovers and bargain hunters alike anticipate news of H&M’s latest designer collaboration the way sports fans wait for draft day.” This is because these sorts of collections make luxury fashion seem more affordable. But they also align fast fashion brands with couture level craftsmanship, which is a problem.

Just because you give a luxury name to a mass-produced product, does not make that product itself luxury. This is because luxury can’t be defined by brand name alone – and yet this is often the commodity being traded upon in such collaborations. Luxury is much more than a name – it is characterised by high quality design, fabric and construction. It involves skilled artisans stitching the clothes and being paid well for their work. And premium fabrics being selected because of their luxe appeal, as well as their durability over time.

When luxury designers lend their name to fast fashion collaborations, they are effectively misleading consumers into thinking the same level of artisanship has gone into those cheap garments as well. They are giving them a good name – a luxury name – but without the luxury craftsmanship to match. In an age where the line between high fashion and fast fashion is increasingly blurred, it's important to remember what ‘luxury’ really means.

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