This week, GapKids and BabyGap released a collaborative Diane von Furstenburg collection. Adult, designer DVF dresses are in the $200 – $300 range, but the Gap collection is much more affordable at the $55 – $70 range. This collection, of course sold out almost immediately, just like the many designer/box-store collaborations in the last decade.
In 2003, well known high-end designer Isaac Mizrahi partnered with Target to create an affordable line that would be sold in their stores which would end up being a huge hit for the next six years. Since then, Target has had an influx of short-term guest-designer lines from such names as Alexander McQueen, Jason Wu, and of course Missoni. H&M has been doing it for years, with popular lines designed by such names as Madonna, Karl Lagerfeld, Roberto Cavalli, Jimmy Choo, and more recently Versace. These designer lines are a huge hit, oftentimes selling out the first day, even if later to appear on eBay.
The underlying question to all of these lines is why? Certainly consumers love the idea of owning a piece of clothing designed by a big, respected name, and stores love to sell things that consumers want to buy. But what is behind the desire to wear or own the more affordable and yes, cheaper version of a designer’s product?