Lately it seems designers are working even harder to mimic their namesake wares in mass-market collections and the two most recent collaborations are perfect examples. First it was the Phillip Lim for Target Pashli-looking bag and now Isabel Marant for H&M is feeling quite familiar, as well - namely, the cropped, quilted, embellished jacket that I spy in this recently-released preview of Marant for H&M. For some time (when I designer x mass market retailer partnership scenario was still pretty new), designers largely avoided mimicking their high-end collections, but it seems that this is changing.
As we mentioned when Phillip Lim showed a bag very similar to his most-recent "it" bag in his collection for Target, this could be a step in the right direction for designers, who struggle with being copied. Because legal protection for fashion designs is somewhat limited in the U.S. (and doesn't appear to be changing any time soon) and original designs more often than not appear on the e-shelves of Nasty Gal and other retailers by way of nearly stitch-for-stitch copies - the ones that Marant absolutely hates. However, designers have the advantage here. They can reach consumers with one things most consumers absolutely love ... their established brand name. The copies that are sold by Minusey and the many other fast fashion retailers may look like the real thing (minus obvious, obvious differences in quality) but they aren't the real thing and as a result, they do not bear the designer's name on the tag. By teaming up with a mass market retailer, designers can design and produce lower-cost items, such as the Isabel Marant x H&M jacket above, that do not necessarily compete with Marant's $4000 versions but certainly compete with other mass market retailers' versions.
In this way, designers are getting their name out there (via the enormous advertising budgets that companies like H&M have and use for collabs like this), designing for a varied group of consumers, and fighting design piracy simultaneously. They are knocking themselves off so-to-speak by providing lower cost options of their most noteworthy wares - the ones that are copied most often. Will this stop sites like Nasty Gal and Minusey from stocking Isabel Marant copies or copies of Phillip Lim's Pashli bag? No. But there is a chance that consumers will look to the designer-approved "copies," the ones provided by H&M or Target, etc., instead. Thoughts?