It’s Isabel Marant For H&M Day

I would be lying to you if I said I had not been stalking the Isabel Marant pour H&M line since it was first announced – every press release, every lookbook leak – I was there and I was bookmarking and copy pasting.  November 14th has been marked on my calendar since June and last night nothing could have deterred me from waiting in that line, not subzero temperatures, not an early morning alarm, not even the fact that I would be waiting for five hours for a chance at fifteen minutes within the store.

However, once inside, something changed.  As I stood there clutching my four items as if my life depended on it, I realized that I didn’t know if I actually wanted any of the things I’d be hankering for, for the last few months. I held out the stunning beaded jacket that I thought would change my life and realized for the $400 dollar price tag I could probably find the original jacket that this one was inspired by from her Spring 2012 line somewhere on the internet for a similar price. And though this piece was clearly artful, it didn’t meet the shiny, high-resolution expectations that the internet had created for it.

This mid-shopping crisis ignited a whole outpouring of thoughts on collaborations. Where collaborations win is in the bridging-the-gap between high and low-market fashion. For the designers it spreads brand awareness to a much larger audience and in the case of Isabel Marant, a deluge of press. For the consumer, it’s a chance at owning something from a designer that one could usually not afford. There is a luxury in being able to buy a pair of fringed booties, some leather pants, a jacket and an oversized sweater all for the price of just the high-fashion pair of boots. There is more wiggle room in the way of commitment thanks to the lower fiscal sacrifice. One can change their mind on about an item without feeling the guilt of having spent the cost of rent on it, and that choice alone is freeing.

This said, as I stood there holding Isabel Marant’s knock-off of her own jacket, I couldn’t help but feel unsatisfied by the copy. I wanted the real thing. Even if it meant having to save up for longer (yes, much longer.) Having seen the “real one,” to which this was a very astute nod, there was something unsettling about buying one that was mass-produced at a lesser quality. Had I not of seen the real one, known the fit and feel of the fabric, maybe I wouldn’t have cared, but I had and I did.

Similar to Phillip Lim’s collection for Target, where almost every piece was inspired by an exact piece from the designer’s previous runway collections, the Isabel Marant collaboration was chock full of pieces that I could name the exact runway show I had first seen the garment in. Rather than creating original pieces, true to their vision and aesthetic, it seems that designers are very much taking inspiration from their own previous designs for the lower-markets.

I don’t know how I would feel if I had saved up to buy Marant’s original fringe booties or Lim’s ‘boom’ sweatshirt just to have it be available the next year at H&M or Target.  In some ways I would hope that should I make the decision to buy the high-fashion runway piece, make that financial sacrifice, that it would stay exclusively at the high end of the spectrum and that future collaborations would offer original, new pieces.

But, even as I write this I have to admit that I am simultaneously on H&M’s website, yes, scrolling again through the collection and strategically planning when today I can make it back to the store to try again. Maybe I won’t be spending the $400 on the beaded jacket or the $300 on the booties but I don’t think I would ever be able to forgive myself should I not get that black blazer and that oversized men’s sweater. It’s still Isabel Hearts-Aflutter Marant.

So clearly, I am confused.

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