Guns for Hire


Robb Young | April 15, 2010

Fashion brands focus on upmarket alliances instead of the high-low combo

After high fashion’s dalliance with mass-market chains, there now seems to be an interest in striking ephemeral design deals within the high end. Hogan, the sister brand of Tod’s, will be designed by none other than Karl Lagerfeld for a one-off capsule collection following the departure of Thakoon Panichgul. In addition to his duties at Chanel, Fendi and his eponymous brand, Lagerfeld has collaborated on several other special projects for upmarket brands like Wolford, Repetto and Swarovski. To quash rumours that he might be retiring, Chanel recently released a statement saying that the German designer’s contract is long term and that, “replacing him is not an issue.”

Lagerfeld’s fellow collaborator with H&M;, Matthew Williamson, has been tapped by Bulgari to create a line of handbags for the Italian brand’s S/S 2011 collection. Contracting out design through such a partnership is the first of its kind for Bulgari. The higher-cost, low-risk strategy of engaging established names is a way for luxury brands to add an element of novelty without gambling on a young designer. If the trend continues, it could prove to tighten the creative net even further, leaving fewer opportunities for up-and-coming names to move up the ladder.

WWD – 18 Mar 10
New York Times – 18 Mar 10
Vogue – 11 Mar 10
Fashionista – 15 Mar 10