Last week's launch of Missoni for Target turned into some kind of a frenzy. At least that's what I gathered from my twitter and facebook stream. Not a huge Missoni fan myself, I was only mildly interested in this latest designer collaboration with the big box store, but each time there's a new one I usually check out the wares.
Rest assured if it had been Fendi for Target, or, say, Prada for Target, then I would have been one of those women lined up before the doors unlocked on opening day.
But then it makes me wonder - are we just after the labels? Or was everyone really and truly dying over polyester zig zag?
The few very high-end designer pieces I own (and I do not own as many as you might think) are usually superior in quality to similarly designed items. Sure, a percentage of the price is a premium for the label inside, but in many cases (certainly not all) you do get what you pay for. The handbags are a nicer leather and lined with a suede or other nice fabric. The dresses are cut to be more flattering, or have hand-stitched details that you wouldn't find on a majorly mass-produced garment.
Since I do not buy uber-expensive designer pieces that often, whenever I am in the dressing room and I slip on something very nice, I usually think to myself, "Oh, huh. There is a difference here."
It's impossible for the designer labels to replicate this at the price point and level of production required for a Target collaboration. And since stores like Forever21 and H&M are always producing knock-offs of the top designers (earthy-toned chevron included), why is everyone so bananas for the Target version? It's because of the label.
Have you ever seen the movie The Devil Wears Prada? It's such a fun flick, but my favorite scene is when Meryl Streep's character explains to the new assistant (who thinks she's "not into fashion") how even the clearance bin at Old Navy contains colors and styles that were on the Paris runways four years ago. Almost everyone is influenced by brands and designers, whether they want to be or not.
There are several intelligent articles floating around about how the Target collaborations are watering down the high-end brands. How their very appeal is based on the fact that they're NOT available to the masses. That's the business side of label-as-status-maker.
But since it's still from Target, the only status you're sporting is that you got to the store early last Tuesday. If you weren't absolutely in love with it, are you as proud to wear a Missoni for Target sweater as you would be if you were wrapped in the real thing?
I guess the difference is that, according to the label, it is "the real thing."
photo by kevin dooley