Accessible fashion for the pay-cheque conscious

Recessionistas, op-shoppers, sale rack trawlers and bargain bin divers. As those of us without a disposable income readily available to us know, looking runway ready is never easy. For some time, our only options have been sourcing high quality, on trend vintage pieces, DIY-ing it or simply waiting for the next warehouse sale to roll around. These things take time; spending hours at a market to find just one or two potentially wearable pieces, days spent hunched over a sewing machine and a cheap hot glue gun, and wearing designer from two seasons prior.

Thanks to an overwhelming demand for brand new, top quality, affordable and runway worthy fashion, the globe’s most popular high street and discount stores have teamed up with high fashion designers to create trend driven capsule collections for budget conscious shoppers. The collaboration sensation began back in 2004 when King Karl Lagerfeld collaborated with Swedish mega-retailer H&M on the label’s very first designer collab. Despite the 30-piece collection selling out in mere hours, Lagerfeld publicly refused to ever work with the label again, accusing the high street giant of “snobbery”. Despite the Chanel designer’s negative reflections on the project, he unknowingly paved the way for a new wave of affordable designer fashion.

8 years on and H&M are still collaborating with high end labels off the back of their successful Lagerfeld collection. Since 2006, the company has collaborated with the likes of Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, Roberto Cavalli, Commes des Garcons, Lanvin, Versace, Jimmy Choo and, most recently, Japanese Vogue editor and fashion powerhouse Anna Dello Russo has been announced to launch an accessories collection with the chain. This collection is set to launch on October 4 2012 as Paris Fashion Week draws to a close, and will be available in 140 H&M stores worldwide and online; good news for those of us living an ocean away from any of the stores. H&M are also due to launch a range with avant-garde Belgian designer and Kanye favourite, Maison Martin Margiela, on November 15 of this year.

Anna Dello Russo for H&M. Image courtesy of H&M

The unofficial leaders in cult collaborations, Target brought accessible, affordable designer threads to the masses. In the US, Target released hip-pocket friendly capsule collections with Luella, Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Isaac Mizrahi and Missoni, with the latter collection featuring a phenomenal 400 pieces ranging from signature zig-zag clad dresses, kitchen wares and even a sell-out multicoloured bicycle. Last month, the discount department store announced they would be joining forces with luxury department store Neiman Marcus on a holiday collection, available not only at all Target stores but also at all Neiman Marcus locations and online at both retailers’ websites, starting December 1. The joint collection will include a number of pieces designed by Diane Von Furstenberg, Brian Atwood, Jason Wu, Marc Jacobs, Marchesa, Oscar de la Renta, Prabal Gurung, Rag & Bone and Robert Rodriguez to name a fashionable few.

Closer to home, Target Australia launched sell-out discount lines from Stella McCartney, who created a 42-piece collection for the store in March 2007, Josh Goot in May of the same year and Zac Posen in 2008. Australian designer Colette Dinnigan released a range of lingerie for the store in 2008, and a new line of lingerie was created for the store earlier this year by American burlesque dancer and model Dita Von Teese. Earlier this month, Australia’s Grazia magazine collaborated with the store to create a limited edition collection of trend driven pieces at affordable prices. The collection features 12 Spring/Summer pieces, with 7 additional summer designs to be released in early December. The range features floral suits, an Ellery-esque mint metallic boucle skirt and a sports luxe style paisley bomber jacket.

Grazia for Target Australia. Image courtesy of StyleZilla

Available online and in Target Australia stores as of November 2012, ksubi Kid for Target will offer a unique and carefree approach to kids’ fashion. The store’s latest designer collaboration will breathe ksubi’s punk aesthetic into the Target brand. “ksubi Kid for Target allows us to pass on a new interpretation of the ksubi aesthetic to the next generation,” says ksubi creative director Mikey Nolan. “Adapting our irreverent, fun and humorous nature you’ve come to expect from us, ksubi Kid for Target gives us a chance to salute the kid in all of us.”

In case 3 designer collaborations in one year wasn’t enough, Target Australia have added another feather to their cap with the launch of Roberto Cavalli’s diffusion line, available today, capturing the Italian designer’s penchant for luxury embellishments and animal prints. “I’m excited to bring the joyful and positive spirit of my work to a new audience,” says Cavalli. “When I set out to design this collection I had a wonderful party in mind with all women dressed glamorously and sensually.”

Roberto Cavalli for Target. Image courtesy of Target Australia.

Australian youth fashion brand Sportsgirl has supported an eclectic mix of high end Australian fashion houses and international designers since the launch of their “Sportsgirls Like” collaboration initiative in 2008. Boasting capsule collections with Romance Was Born, Miss Unkon, AJE, Richard Nicoll, Antipodium and Lola & Bailey under their belt, June 2012 saw an exciting new collaboration between the high street go-to and luxury scarf Temps Des Reves. The collection features 6 printed scarves designed by New York based Australian fashion photographer Adrian Mesko. A photographer by trade, Mesko has selected 6 of his photographs to print onto the scarves, each derived from memories of his travels.

Sportsgirls Like Temps des Reves. Image courtesy of Sportsgirl.

Affordable fashion isn’t exclusive to high-end designer collabs, with wallet friendly Australian labels responding positively to a need for more accessible, trend-driven sartorial options. As the weather begins to warm up, All About Eve has launched their affordable yet highly fashion-forward SS12 collection, staying true to their street-meets-surf aesthetic. The quintessential All About Eve girl is described as “confident, quirky, tomboyish yet feminine, free-spirited and unpredictable… Fashion trends may be high on her agenda, but you can still see her getting around in her denim cut-offs and favourite tee.” All About Eve’s SS12 collection is accessible and wearable in every sense of the words.

Image courtesy of All About Eve

While it may be worth saving your pennies for high quality basics, why spend the big bucks on what may just be a throwaway runway trend? With high fashion style hitting the high street all over the globe, the stress of dressing fashionably on a budget is truly a dilemma of the past.

About The Author

Gemma Watts

Gemma Watts has worked in the fashion media industry since 2012, writing for and being headhunted by some of the country's leading fashion and beauty companies. With a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing and a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) under her belt, Gemma is able to combine her two greatest passions as Couturing's Fashion Editor- fashion and writing.

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