Thursday, March 8, 2012

Is High Style Worth Low Prices? The Drawbacks of Designer Discount Lines at Stores Like Target, H&M

A clip from CNBC's Luxury Boom explaining why you won't find Manolo Blahnik shoes at H&M.

Crowds lined up today to get their hands on Marni’s collection for H&M. Within an hour, some racks and even mannequins were empty, according to The LA Times.

Marni is the latest in a long line of designers in the past few years to make lines for a fraction of their regular prices for stores like Target and H&M. The trend is considered by many to have started with Isaac Mizrahi’s line for Target. Since then, designers such as Versace, Jason Wu, Missoni and more have made collections. Shoe designers, such as Dolce Vita and Miss Trish of Capri have also made collections.

Crowds for Marni at H&M 

Yet, some designer brands, notably Manolo Blahnik will not be showing up on mass retailer shelves any time soon.

 In the CNBC Luxury Boom clip above, George Malkemus, President Manolo Blahnik US, explains that you won’t find a cheap line of Manolos because they feel that cheaper lines are like knockoffs and they hurt buyers perception of the brand.

J. Crew has revealed a line of Manolos but there is a twist. The lines is still J. Crew but designed by Manolo Blahnik and the starting retail is around $550, much more than prices in Target and H&M, according to the Huffington Post.

For budget consumers, discount designer lines have their drawbacks. While they offer the styles of designer clothes at a fraction of the price, the quality is often lacking. To cut prices, designers use cheaper materials. Retailers also use limited quantities and time to encourage buying. Although some collections, like Missoni for Target basically sell out, other lines wind up on clearance racks, according to Marsha West.

I find you must examine discount designer lines on a case by case basis.

I recently purchased a navy and red striped dress from the Jason Wu for Target collection. The dress was well made in a soft fabric including chiffon details.  Overall, Jason Wu’s line for Target was well made and designed, winning over fashion icon and Jason Wu fan, Michelle Obama, who was spotted in a dress from the collection.

The Jason Wu for Target Dress I recently purchased.

Michelle Obama in Jason Wu for Target 

I also purchased Miss Trish of Capri wedges for Target. Since they are wedges I won’t wear them too much and they were comfortable, I did not mind that they were made of man-made materials instead of leather.  I got them at a discount from the full Target price. However, at the full Target price I most likely could have found better made wedges from a less expensive brand at stores, like T. J. Maxx.

What do you think of designer lines at stores like Target and H&M? What purchases from these lines have you made?

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