We have seen the popularity and increasing demand for collaborations between fast fashion retailers like Uniqlo and H&M, Top Shop, and designers such as Christophe Lemaire, Lanvin, and Christopher Kane. These collaborations are met with tremendous media publicity, long-lines on the first day of sale, and items that quickly disappear off the shelf.
In a recent Think Tank piece in the Women’s Wear Daily, AT Kearney strategist examines the economics within these collaborations. These collaborations fit well with the repeatable success model of fast fashion retailers which is to place a large number of small bets, capitalizing on ones that work and cleaning out the ones that do not.
The author predicts that fast fashion retailers will be tapping into young designers who are eager for attention, feedback and even criticism to design new crops of product lines that will feature the designers as brand names. Furthermore, established designers will also continue to collaborate with fast-fashion as a quick way to test their designs and access mainstream market.
However, the continuation of this collaboration model will rest on fast-fashion companies developing new capabilities to discover and groom new designers. In addition, established designers need to continue to find the opportunity to enter the world of fast-fashion attractive versus the risk of lowering their high fashion/luxury creds. Lastly, the designers will undoubtedly fear that partnership will cannibalize some of the established designers’ own luxury brands customers. However, spending data have shown that there is an increasingly number of consumers who pay luxury prices but also bargain hunt at fast-fashion haunts. After all, Jennifer Lopez seamlessly paired a $10,000 Hermès Birkin bag with a $25 pair of culottes from Forever 21. And doesn’t David Beckham shop at H&M?