My desire for fast fashion faded when I realized that at any given moment, at least 40 different women are wearing the same exact top, or the same bottoms, in New York City. Don't get me wrong, fast fashion is indeed affordable, easy and above all, trendy, but let's not forget it totally diminishes personal style and individuality.
Collaborations with high-end brands and designers isn't something unknown for H&M, the international fast fashion retailer known for its faceless mannequins and inexpensive clothes. Since 2004, the Swedish clothing-retail company has collaborated with designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Commes des Garçons and Versace. Unlike H&M, this collaboration is the first of its kind for Giambattista Valli and, as a bonus, the designer's first step into menswear.
Giambattista Valli, an Italian designer known for his feminine haute couture silhouettes, created nine looks for the fast fashion retailer, H&M. The collection is set to debut worldwide November 7. In a rather soft debut of the collection in late May, model Kendall Jenner, Italian socialite Chiara Ferragni and musician H.E.R. worked the red carpet at amfAR in Cannes.
It's common for high-end brands to have diffusion lines offering upscale pieces set at a lower retail price. I worked in New York for a luxury Italian women's line that just so happened to be in partnership with Giambattista Valli. The two companies shared a heavily windowed showroom in Chelsea overlooking the Hudson River.
Rihanna had worn a dreamy pink tulle dress by Giambattista Valli to the Grammy's in 2015, two years before it was announced that the brand was closing their North American showroom. All the back stock items that weren't sold during the season were left untouched in white lacquer closets. Those pieces were free game to employees, and I graciously purchased two items from the brand's diffusion line, Giamba.
I was proud to wear those pieces. I was proud because, at the time, I could afford to dress in such expensive clothes. I knew the likelihood of seeing another woman in the same skirt or top was highly unlikely. Those pieces were labeled and tagged with one brand. One brand that's known for its feminine prints on ready-to-wear and haute couture pieces, not prone-to-fading necklace sets and knock-off shoes. If you couldn't tell, I hold a firm stance in not buying a collaboration piece from a retailer known for $9.99 graphic tees.
Conflicted with my own views on this recent mashup, I wondered how other people view high-low collaborations. Does the collaboration sabotage H&M for being too upscale for its typical customer? Or reversely, does it sabotage Giambattista Valli for being too tacky for its typical customer? H&M described the collection on Instagram as couture-like. Give me couture, or give me death!
To bring my snotty self back to earth, I did what any social media craving millennial would do and took my analysis to Instagram. I asked my Instagram Story viewers if they'd purchase a $400, $550, and $650 dress from H&M, even if it was designed by Giambattista Valli. Now, there was likely a disconnect with my followers' understanding and my intention of the posts. Some followers thought I was legitimately asking if I should buy one of the dresses.
Kendall Jenner wore one of the dresses with an added tulle train for extra drama while Chiara Ferragni also helped model the dresses. I find everything mediocre, of course, the brands' description of the rhinestone heart says differently. Fun fact: somehow we were supposed to figure out that the theme of the collection is love.
I'm questioning the logic of a high-low collaboration for the sanity of the public. Is it meant to blur the lines between the high-and-low-end shopper? Are we supposed to feel at peace meeting in the middle on the terms of price? Can one single garment make me feel equal to Kendall Jenner? Surely not. Lest we forget the possibility that three women will wear the same look to a gala event in Los Angeles come November.
Fast fashion fades from fall to spring with $5 tops and $2 socks, but high-low collaborations remain bright, regardless of my distaste for H&M.