26 January 2013

The High Street Hits Fashion Weeks.

Topshop can no longer call itself the only high street brand that shows at London Fashion Week. Over the past couple of weeks River Island has announced that they’ll be showing their newest collaborative efforts with Rihanna during London Fashion Week in February. Likewise, Whistles have also jumped on the London Fashion Week AW13 schedule and will present their Limited collection to fashion week regulars.

It doesn’t finish there either; this week Swedish high street giant H&M dropped the bombshell that they’ll be sharing their AW13 collection at Paris Fashion Week, in the same location that has previously housed Parisian fashion houses Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior.

H&M aren’t completely juvenile to the high fashion scene though – they’ve released endless collaborations with high fashion designers over the past few years – but I still can’t help but question how appropriate this addition to the schedule, alongside River Island’s and Whistle’s, is during the period which is designated for designers to showcase their creative mastery.

Like H&M, River Island falls into the middle of the high street market. The brand hosting a catwalk show is the last thing the fashion industry would have expected but once you attach a celebrity to the brand and call it collaboration, the catwalk show is suddenly not only acceptable but the most hyped show on the schedule at London Fashion Week this season.

There’s something magical about the fashion weeks in the four sartorial capitals – you can’t ignore the anticipation of each collection in the air at each show, the creative effort and time it must take to prepare each collection, the awe surrounding the beauty of each flawless model who parades the catwalk. It’s not an experience for the masses; only a select few are chosen to experience the designers’ new collections because it’s their job to do so, aside from the A-listers placed on the front row of course, and that’s what separates the fashion flock from the rest for that short period of time - it’s a privilege not everyone deserves but those who work hard to get there.

There’s little that’s special about the high street fashion industry. From the very beginning the high street has created fashion for the masses, for which I am grateful for but there’s nothing enchanting about what is simply churning out products as quickly as possible for the largest profit. The high street predicts trends, producing them at lightening speed, whilst making them accessible to all; it’s an industry built to burn a hole in your pockets from disposable, fleeting fashion. 

Topshop hit London Fashion Week  years ago, endorsing the NEWGEN scheme and hosting the show space each season and there’s no denying that the Unique show is an extremely hot ticket at London Fashion Week, proving the potential success of a high street brand at one of the four major fashion weeks.

Only time will tell how triumphant these newly scheduled shows will be and what the industry’s real reaction to the high street encroaching high fashion’s spotlight is – I for one am certainly not swayed towards the idea, at least for now anyway.
Jessica McCarthy said...


Why do you think this 'High Street to High Fashion' becoming a trend? Do you think its in respeonse to the growing number of shows available to watch online?
Say if H&M know their audiance is two-fold - the professionals, and the clients watching online, they might be more inclined to enter the High Fashion business. Perhaps its also a marketing ploy to attract more views/attention, seeing as the one off collaborations have worked pretty well in the past.

Sorry to bombard you,
Jess x

Millie Cotton said...

I'm no expert but I'll have a go!

I'm not sure that it is really anything to do with the shows available to watch online - designers are having to do that as due to technology now. Because of the internet, we live in a society that expects things instantaneously and there's no way of strictly embargoing their collections - within seconds of a look hitting the catwalk there will be photos tweeted and posted to facebook etc so they might as well stream their shows properly and gain the coverage for themselves.

I think the high street, high fashion merge is a lot to do with money and having to evolve brands to continue to making money. There's obviously a definite marketing ploy - the show has already created a huge buzz around H&M. Their collaborations are also clever marketing ploys; they give consumers a slice of high fashion for for a more accessible price, putting names in their wardrobes that they wouldn't usually be able to afford. It's a win win situation for both the brand and the designer involved as they get a huge amount of coverage from the collections too.

I might not be entirely right but I hope that sort of answers your question!

Tinasylvia said...

I think it's a bit weird that mainstream markets are exhibiting at prestigious events, it's almost stealing their spotlight. I can't think of anyone that thinks of Topshop or River Island when they think about Fashion Week, it's all about the Couture designers, not high street fashion brands.

Eda. said...

I think the reason fashion week has that chic, glamorous vibe is because of the fashion houses that show their collections, and as much as I'm grateful for the highstreet creating on-trend pieces at affordable prices for the normal working girl's bank balance, I don't think they should be showing at fashion weeks - stick to the press days!

Eda x

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