You'd Be Surprised How Easy It Is To Score Haute Couture

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We'll call her Laura.


She's the quintessential fashionphile who doesn't flinch when squeezing her size 10 assets into a size 2, "as long as there's a little spandex." She has a seasonal calendar of local sample sales plastered on her MySpace (NWS) page with cutouts of the Sex and the City movie, beloved supermodels and favorite H&M designer collections.


Karl is her favorite, followed by Stella.


Despite a mid-six-figure income, Laura is one of a growing number of high-end groupies lining up at discount retailers for new designer collections. Laura even planned her summer vacation around a shopping spree at London's TopShop that landed her a trove of Kate Moss-designed treasures, most of which were either the wrong color or too small.


That didn't stop Laura from wearing them the rest of summer and fall while singing about these designer debuts at a store near you.
Laura loves Target (TGT). It was the first U.S. retailer to recognize that a growing number of shoppers wanted opinionated fashion at affordable prices. The company has created a business model offering one of the most diverse retail experiences available. Celebrity designers like Proenza Schuler share space with lesser-known designers like U.K.'s Alice Temperley -- in stores that also sell Hanes T-shirts and Hefty trash bags.


Recently, Hollywood jewelry designer Dominique Cohen debuted an entry-level line featured in full-page ads in the New York Times. Her signature long rope chains and semiprecious stones were replaced with bronze hand-cut cameos of exotic shell on lace-covered bead necklaces.


"The beauty of jewelry is that even us fat girls can shop with pride," says Laura. It's also a win-win for Target and the designers, as the retailer pays a hefty flat fee to the designer, who in turn gets a national media campaign and retail presence.


The name may make a girl shake in her Louboutins, but Payless Shoe Source, owned by Collective Brands (PSS), has made an aggressive attempt to improve its top-tier business, adding "guest designers" in hopes of luring high-price shoppers.


"The key is not being seen while slinking through the door," whispers Laura. Collective Brands' latest designer, Alice + Olivia's Stacey Bendet, launches her inaugural line for the chain in February 2008. The designer joins a growing list of collaborators that includes Laura Poretzky and Lela Rose who create luxury lines of handbags, heels and flats that retail for around $30 to $35.


Kohl's (KSS) recently enlisted fashion heavyweight Vera Wang to create a sensible yet stylish collection known as Simply Vera.
The ambitious collection features long, textured coats with edgy short sleeves, a black nylon car coat with baby-doll pockets and a pleated chiffon skirt with elastic hem. Not known for cutting-edge fashion, Kohl's currently offers brands like Haggar and Chaps that cater to the relaxed aesthetic of its mainstream shopper.


Whether the Wang name will resonate with Kohl's shoppers has yet to be seen, but as of this writing most of the collection is 20% off at Kohls.com.


Hoping to get in on the designer trend, high-end department store Lord & Taylor recently enlisted Tuleh designer Bryan Bradley to create an exclusive line to debut in its newly renovated stores nationwide.


Laura recently snagged a peek at the collection that featured "chiffon-trimmed cardigan and dress ensembles, skirt and jacket combinations and A-line sequin party dresses that range in price from $200 upwards." Pricier than the usual designer spin-off collection, it's a gamble that shoppers are willing to shell out more for high style. Brooks Brothers reaches out to an even higher level of luxury with its new Black Fleece.


Laura claims it's the "best designer collection of any of the chains." The new high-end gear attempts to attract a younger, more fashion-forward clientele and has enlisted the services of Thom Browne as guest designer.


Browne's fall/winter 2007 debut collection is an elegant and unique line with high-end cashmeres and meticulously tailored jackets. It is geared more toward urbanites, with women's sizes running from 0 to 10.


Prices, which are about 40% higher than for traditional Brooks Brothers clothing, range from $180 dress shirts and $600 cashmeres for men to $1,900 herringbone-lined trenches and decadent $10,000 fur-trimmed capes for women.


If you think the Italians are immune to the cheap-chic trend, then you're wrong. For fall/winter 07, Roberto Cavalli debuted one of the season's most anticipated collections at discount retailer H&M. The one-time-only collection includes 20 men's pieces and 25 women's items, highlighting the designer's love affair with glitz and glamour just in time for holiday shopping.


Cavalli faithful, and even Cavalli himself, lined up for the Nov. 8 launch that sold out within 30 minutes at H&M's New York stores, and in two hours in London and Hong Kong. Judging from the response, the Cavalli collection could end up even more successful than Laura's ballyhooed H&M collection from Karl Lagerfeld.


How Laura will look in chiffon tiger prints and leopard stretch pants might be another story, but hopefully she arrived in time to find her true size.

If you like this post you might also like Green Fashion, Fashion Brings the Hills Enemies Together and Armani’s Trendy Hotel.

 

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