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Mass market broached by high-end fashion

Published: Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05

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Diana amaro / The Prospector

Two shoppers walk through Sunland Park Mall, where clothing by esteemed designers has now become accessible.

With just enough time to spare between classes, freshman marketing major Alejandra Espino enters Target looking to buy a simple white shirt. As she reaches the women's department, an overhead advertisement for clothes by Zac Posen attracts her attention. With excitement taking over, Espino proceeds to take her size in every piece of the collection.


"Just the fact of owning something from my favorite designer is incentive enough for me to shop," Espino said.

Even before the decline of the economy, many retailers had gone through different measures in order to attract those who had been careful with their money.


Though many major corporations reduced the prices of their merchandise, or changed the quantity that is being manufactured, corporations such as Wal-Mart, Target, H&M, Topshop and JC Penny have taken it upon themselves to introduce diffusion lines from high-scale designers in order to reach the mass market.


In an interview with Women's Wear Daily, designer Anna Sui, who created a specific line for Target, expressed her admiration for these collaborations.

"I have always been a fan of designer partnerships with mass retailers," Sui said. "I think it is a great way to bring fashion to everyone."


The resulting product gives credit to the designer in larger audiences. Isaac Mizrahi, famous for his elegant designs and aesthetic, was relatively unknown to those not involved in the industry. Mizrahi had talent and his peers knew of him, yet this was not enough for him to be successful. It wasn't until Mizrahi was approached by Target, that things started to go differently.


In an interview given to msnbc.com, Marshal Cohen of NPD, a market research group based out of Port Washington, New York, said. "Who knew who Isaac Mizrahi was before he partnered up with Target. Somehow, because of the exposure they get, it legitimizes (the concept) because they're real designers who just happen to be designing for Target."

 

But in translating a high-end fashion line into one accessible by a larger audience, sacrifices must be made, and materials of lower quality are used to lower price.


"I bought a shirt from the Christopher Kane Collection for Topshop line and the material was completely expendable," said Estefania Marquez, freshmen graphic designer major. "I loved it but I guess that in order to keep the low prices they have to use cheap material."

 

Because of the places where these lines are selling, people are unknowingly receiving an education in high-quality fashion.

"Sometimes the fact that people don't dress well isn't because of bad taste, but because of low resources," said Michelle Rodriguez, local designer and fashion merchandising major from NMSU. "If they continue shopping at cheap, fashion-forward stores, these people improve their style."


Designers' names are now being spotted in the most unusual of places. An example of this is the Miley Cyrus line at Wal-Mart, which was designed in collaboration with French fashion designer Max Azria.


"I have had a big lesson in fashion since I started noticing these designers, I don't dress the same than most people because of it." Espino said. "I've learned that you don't have to have all the money in the world in order to be different and feel original."

 

"I've learned that you don't have to have all the money in the world in order to be different and feel original."
- Alejandra Espino,
marketing major

This phenomenon may also be creating a bleak future for many clothing corporations. Once a popular brand in young American culture, Abercrombie and Fitch has seen a large decline in sales. The numbers speak for themselves with a 15.9 percent decrease in sales growth in recent years, according to company financial records.


For now and in the future, many people have opted to shop at what are now being called "fast fashion" stores. These stores offer look-a-like pieces straight from the runway at prices that are attainable.


"I work at Forever 21 and since they copy all the clothes from designers and sell the clothes at really low prices, more people are shopping here and they like it a lot so they start building their wardrobe from there," Rodriguez said.

Stephania Lara may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.



 

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