The Problem With Fast Fashion Collaborations

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 3 weeks ago | Features

Image: from Extinction Rebellion's Funeral for Fashion protest. Image source.

H&M has just unveiled a new campaign for its latest luxury collaboration, with Giambattista Valli. Announcing the collection at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, H&M aligned the release with the backing of a slew of celebrities, including Kendall Jenner – who features in the campaign. But Giambattista Valli’s couture-level craftmanship already boasts an extensive following, which is exactly why this kind of collaboration is problematic – because it gives fast fashion a good name.  

The full H&M x Giambattista Valli collection drops on November 7th and it is the latest in a long line of designer partnerships for the fast fashion retailer. Beginning with a Karl Lagerfeld collection back in 2004, H&M's luxury collabs have since included Lanvin, Versace and Alexander Wang. And each luxury collab has served to strengthen the H&M brand, 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 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 premium fabrics being selected for their quality and durability over time.

When luxury designers lend their name to fast fashion collaborations, they are effectively misleading consumers into thinking the same level of craftsmanship 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 is important to remember what ‘luxury’ really means.

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