Taking away that niggle…

Even though we have seen all the shows at ready to wear collections in February/March, this doesn’t mean we’re any closer to it physically speaking.  Most collections won’t be in stores yet and AW07-8 ad campaigns are only slowly trickling in.  The ones who are quick off the mark (and probably to the detriment of designers) are the high street stores.  Take H&M who most definitely designed their autumn winter 2007-8 collections after the shows but will get their stock into stores the blink of an eye.  Looking at these preview images, it’s pretty plain to see where they get their bread and butter influences from – Marc Jacobs and Chloe being the main suspects.  Yet, as super great as these clothes look in the pictures (is it me or are H&M campaign images getting slicker and slicker by the season?), there is a niggle in my brain that says, ‘Ah… H&M’.  But the niggle disappears a little like this…

I can’t say I’ve had a perfect track record with H&M and it’s not really a store I frequent often anymore.But I’ve realised, and this applies to other high street stores as well, that certain items with the right design merit in them have the ability to transcend their origins.  For example, a Principles dress my friend was wearing being mistaken for being Chloe even by the hardcore fash-crowd or a cheap bag she bought from Roman Market identical to Giles for Mulberry.  I’ve been fortunate to have the fiscal capacity to forgo the high street if I wished, but I haven’t done this for the precise reason that a meticulous/selective eye on the high street yields things that are truly gems.  Case in point, the pleated coat pictured here from forthcoming H&M worn with enough dramaticism certainly won’t look dimininuitive or have the obvious look of being from H&M.  Or the leather dress with a velvet cinch belt will give a subtle nod to Christopher Kane without looking like you’re trying to fool people into thinking you’re wearing a knockoff but rather you’re demonstrating that you’re discerning enough to give the nod.  At least, that’s how I rationalise my high street purchases.  It’s not the case for everyone but definitely a defence argument to those who like to pracise label snobbery.

20 Replies to “Taking away that niggle…”

  1. love it. H&M seems to have lots its appeal these past couple of seasons, but now….WOW.
    cannot wait to snap up the white coat.

  2. I don’t really think that anyone should have to “rationalise” a high street purchase, because the implication there seems to be that there is some kind of equation between money spent and stylishness achieved, surely?

  3. It impacts on fashion designers whose ideas are copied and reproduced at a lower cost. So the consumer could be thinking ‘Why buy designer when I can get something similar for much less?’ I don’t necessarily think this is true all the time but thats the theory anyway…
    Lola: My rationalisation is I suppose an argument against those that feel the high street takes away something from the catwalk designers and that it can be detrimental to high fashion. Again, I don’t necessarily think that hence the rationalisation….

  4. I was actually quite disappointed with what they had in stock the last time I was in San Francisco. These pics, however, especially the coats, have me wishing they had more of an online presence.

  5. I completely agree with this post. I don’t like straightforward knock-offs of a look, but I think mainstream brands sometimes do a good job in interpreting a certain idea and producing it for the masses. Sometimes their ‘inspired’ designs actually transcend the original.
    I feel this way about my favourite dress of the moment – a navy linen shift from Mango that echoes the volume and lines seen at Marni and Dries, but it isn’t a copy at all – it has its own sleeve and neckline details.
    In other words, literal knock-offs don’t work for me – there must be some design element or thought put in to make the piece worth buying. Otherwise it just looks like a wannabe.

  6. high street clothes are for ppl who can’t afford designer clothes. And there are a lot out there… The key is how u pull out the look with your own personality, that is the most important thing…

  7. i sense a lot of snobbery in a few of the comments.
    maybe designers really need to answer why a cotton dress costs hundreds of pounds, when the same dress costs far less on the highstreet.
    fashion and style shouldn’t only be for those who can afford designer outfits.
    that coat by h&m is stunning and affordable.
    same coat would cost thousands if it had a chanel label sewed on it.

  8. Hi Susie: I do agree that the direct thought process: ‚Äúwhy pay designer prices when I can get a copy for much cheaper…‚Äù does not always apply, but I do believe it‚Äôs gotten to the point that high street stores undermine the entire design industry. At some point the cost of actually conceptualizing a garment has to be applied, and this isn’t happennig. I wonder if it‚Äôs detrimental to young creatives, do they all just get scooped up by River Island at Graduate Fashion Week?? Why are there so few independant boutiques in London? Why to the grocery stores have clothing lines??
    Anyway the concept of high street providing otherwise unattainable fashion to the masses is delusional and somewhat offensive, I don’t make a lot of money – but harbouring distaste for the high street does not mean I have to spend £800.00 on a bikini. In any event, I adore your journal and just brought the topic up NOT to be elitist and irritating but just because I’d love to see you tackle it in an entry some time!

  9. Man, now I feel bad that H&M is the only thing I can afford. I must look so “obvious.”
    “Anyway the concept of high street providing otherwise unattainable fashion to the masses is delusional and somewhat offensive.”
    Delusional? Offensive? Those are very, very strong words. How does this possibly offend you? Are you out of your mind? I make no money because I teach, and the only time I can buy anything original and designer is in the summer, when sleeveless cotton or linen dresses still cost ~$150. I’m proud of the things I own that aren’t H&M, but H&M, Zara, and Forever21 make up the majority of my wardrobe. I’d never buy actual knockoffs because that shit is just lame, but I’m interested in playing around with the latest volumes and shapes just as much as anyone else. H&M and the like make high fashion more accessible to the masses, and the people who are snobs and need everything to be designer still buy the designer stuff, so I’m not sure the situation is as dire as you make it seem. “Undermines the ENTIRE fashion industry”? Get a grip. They’re just making affordable shit for people who don’t want to wander around in mom jeans and last year’s peasant blouses. We’re not talking $800 bikinis here. There’s a middle ground that you’re ignoring just to make your point.
    God, this entire post and all of the comments make me gag. I’m usually a huge fan, Susie, but sometimes the people in your comments section just seem mental.

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