The Price of Affordable Fashion

By Cassie Mlynarek

In mid-November, H&M, the Swedish multinational company famous for its collaborations with both mainstream and lesser-known designers, will release its newest collection.

Everyone from Jimmy Choo to Stella McCartney has teamed up with H&M. This time, Isabel Marant, a French fashion designer noted for bohemian creations, has created a line for the fast-fashion retailer.

Isabel Marant Collection. Ribbed Panel Sweater $1012. Photo via

Isabel Marant Collection. Ribbed Panel Sweater $1012. Photo via

With this newest collaboration, fashion mavens once again may wonder: By creating a low-end alternative, will a popular designer drive away the high-end customer, the loyal fashionistas with their Gucci bags who buy straight off the runway? Probably not, say some store managers and devotees themselves.

Jace Harms, manager of H&M at NorthPark Center, says that collaborations allow designers to make their wares more affordable but still high quality. Harms says that H&M “brings [labels to the] general populous.”

“What Isabel Marant is inadvertently doing is she’s getting the everyday woman to step outside of her comfort zone to wear something that she might not typically wear because it’s fashion forward [or] because it’s a bit more on the eccentric side,” he says.

 A designer collaboration with a retailer like H&M gives people the opportunity to see styles by designers that they may not have heard of, giving brands like Isabel Marant more publicity and, arguably, increasing their value.

However, when purchasing designs from a top brand, there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that your outfit is exclusive. Many women are willing to pay the price to wear one-of-a-kind fashion and believe the prices as well as fabrics give that designer value.

Isabel Marant wearing piece from her H&M Collection. Photo tweeted by H&M via Twitter

Isabel Marant wearing piece from her H&M Collection. Photo tweeted by H&M via Twitter

SMU sophomore Gabi Stillwell, an avid shopper of both designer wear and H&M fashion, believes that this collaboration will not devalue Marant’s brand but unveil her to a whole new audience in a more affordable way.

“I don’t think that having a line at H&M makes [Isabel Marant] any less of a valuable designer. It is just a very different area of her business,” Stilwell says. “Really what she is doing is smart because she’s not only helping H&M but also allowing people who can’t afford her clothing to afford it and [get] her name out there to people who otherwise wouldn’t look for her.”

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