It was 12 years ago that Target first partnered with Isaac Mizrahi and then H&M a year later surprised everyone by partnering for a limited collection with Karl Lagerfeld.
These two power houses launched the whole ‘designer for’ phenomenon – something a lot of observers saw as a ‘phase’, a ‘fad’ the customer (or retailer) would quickly get over…but it seems more than a decade on this view is not entirely correct – H&M are about to launch a new collaboration with fashion powerhouse, Balmain and Target a range with accessories designer Eddie Borgo.
Yes, there have been collections that haven’t quite worked (aka. sold out in their first days). One such collection was last year when fashion darling Joseph Altuzarra did a womenswear range for Target US.
The collection was sold at Target, as well as on Net-a-Porter (upmarket fashion website) – but it seems the shopper didn’t bite and it ended up on sale. At the time you could have put it down to the fact that the customer had had enough of designer collaborations; but then Alexander Wang launched a collection for H&M in November that sold out.
There are rumours that H&M actually ordered 40% less stock than their past collaborations because it was more important for the collection to sell out, than sell a lot. That said these collections (when they work) have a nice effect on the bottom line. When Target US launched their Missoni limited collection in 2011 (this was subsequently borrowed and launched here by Target Australia) it crashed the website, sold out and helped drive net-profit up by 3.7% in that quarter.
So Why Do Some Collections work and others Flop?
It’s as simple and hard as getting your timing right.
Think about it like a curve of adoption. The collections that have failed (ie. not achieved their sales forecast, had to be discounted etc) weren’t ‘mainstream’ enough. The designers like Martin Margiela, Altuzarra etc were cool amongst the fashion set (early adopters), but didn’t have the pent up desire, that only lowering the price point could unleash for the mainstream. Designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander Wang, Balmain, Isabel Marant – all have.
Maybe the easiest way of seeing this is simply through search volume…you can see how much more ‘popular’ Alexander Wang and Isabel Marant are than Martin Margiela or Joseph Altuzarra.
So then here’s out bet for H&M’s Balmain range debuting in November… it will be a success. It’s popular like Alexander Wang.