Big names, small prices

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It is no secret that designer items are expensive. As soon as the label of a top designer gets stuck on an item, the price tag immediately gets a couple zeroes added onto it. In the past, this has meant T-shirts for hundreds of dollars, coin purses for thousands of dollars and jewelry the same price as a two-bedroom house. While most people would be bankrupt trying to purchase some of these items, a very select few people will buy or even get on wait lists for these items. If you ask any person toting an Hermes Berkin bag, they will tell you the six-week wait and $10,000 they parted with were absolutely worth it. This is the power and prestige that is associated with designer items.

Something truly magical happens when these designers collaborate with low-end brands. A special, limited edition collection of designer curated items will be rolled out with budget-friendly price tags ready for consumption by the masses. This has made it possible to pick up dresses designed by Prabal Gurung at Target alongside your paper towel or to peruse the junior’s section at Macy’s before coming upon printed frocks by Matthew Williamson. These capsule collections are wildly successful, and the announcement of two new collaborations with major retailers H&M; and Banana Republic continue to thrill.

H&M; has managed to have multiple successful designer collaborations. Collections with Jimmy Choo, Versace and Karl Lagerfeld all sold out in stores; its latest collaboration with super-cool-kid designer Alexander Wang will likely be no different. Wang has brought collections to the world that have altered trends dramatically, and in celebration of H&M;’s ten years doing designer collaborations, Wang is also going to be the first American designer to team up with the brand. In truly fabulous style, the announcement came during a party at the Coachella Music Festival. Wang talked excitedly to reporters about the collection that will be released exclusively in only 250 stores worldwide.

“I wanted to do something different. It will be a new take on a lifestyle offering,” Wang said.

It seems like a pretty obvious marriage between Wang and H&M.; Both are fashion forward with a minimalist aesthetic that makes for easy, chic style that is approachable to many people. Expect color blocking, muted shades across the board and, most excitingly, prices below $100 when the styles are released in early November.

Meanwhile, Banana Republic made several announcements that thrilled the fashion world. While the mid-priced label usually keeps closets stocked with well-tailored skirts and dresses, it looks like they are hoping to revamp their image. Marissa Webb, who boasts an independent design label and is an ex-J. Crew designer, has been appointed as Banana Republic’s creative director. Webb, like Wang, brings a modern edge to her clothes but likes to have a little more femininity. Lace, denim and blazers with intriguing details are Webb’s personal go-to items and will work well at Banana Republic.

Even more exciting was news that Roland Mouret would collaborate with Banana Republic. French designer Mouret is known for incredible dresses that highlight and accentuate an hourglass figure without being over the top. This is accomplished through structured tailoring that make shoulders look strong and broad alongside seams that give the illusion of Barbie-like dimensions. Mouret is incredibly successful — Duchess Kate Middleton is a fan and Victoria Beckham wears his dresses almost religiously, even tapping Mouret to design a collection with her.

Happily, shoppers won’t have to wait long for the items to hit stores. The collection of 25 dresses, jackets and separates will be released in August in-stores and online, priced between $50 and $170.

Between Wang and Mouret, fashionistas will have plenty of shopping to do in the coming months. Start spring cleaning your closets to make room!

Noel Hemphill is a junior ECLS major. She can be reached at hemphill@oxy.edu or on Twitter @WklyNHemphill.