Fashion for all
“I GOT ONE I GOT ONE!!” British fashion designer Henry Holland excitedly proclaimed on Twitter. One click reveals a photo of the designer sporting a black bomber jacket with tropical-print sleeves, one of the pieces from H&M’s latest concession, Versace for H&M. Following a string of successful collaborations with designers such as Matthew Williamson, Lanvin and Jimmy Choo, November 2011 sees the Swedish high street chain team up with the formidable Donatella Versace, offering ‘normal’ people another bite at the high fashion pie, without giving our budgets a battering.
The high street/haute couture partnership strikes an odd balance; it retains a certain degree of exclusivity, but without being exclusive. In the world of fashion, the most important thing is to stand out from the crowd, whilst still looking on-trend. In the past, a label-laden wardrobe was the way to achieve this, but Fashion with a capital F is no longer just for the world’s wealthy ‘beautiful people’.
When British Vogue reinstated its popular ‘More Dash Than Cash’ feature in 2009, the message was loud and clear: creativity on a budget was more important than lusting after designer clothes. If fashion bible Vogue was encouraging us to shop on the high street, it must be the way forward, right? Most fashion magazines now have regular ‘street style’ columns, where fashionable passers-by are photographed in whatever they left the house wearing that morning. It’s a refreshing look inside the wardrobes of normal people from all walks of life. The internet too remains a staunch outpost for the celebration of the everyday fashionista, with sites as diverse as The Sartorialist, The Style Scout and the quirky Hel-looks.com providing us with inspiration from the streets of Milan, New York, London, Helsinki, Paris and many more cities across the globe. What do all those photographed have in common? Largely, it’s their love of mixing cheaper clothes with more expensive ones, hand-me-downs with one-off vintage finds. The internet makes it easy for us to take a look at this stylish cross section of the general public. It provides us with inspiration, encourages us to be inventive, and reminds us that fashion is meant to be fun.
H&M’s latest designer offering is yet another reminder of this fact. For a short period at least, anyone can pick up a Versace studded leather dress or tropical-print jacket, but the real fun begins when you start to experiment with how to wear it with the clothes you already own and love. Designer collaborations are breaking down fashion barriers, giving everyone from magazine editors to teenagers shopping at the weekend access to clothes which still carry that special ‘limited edition’ feel, but at a fraction of the price. Spending vast amounts of money is no longer the objective. Today, Fashion is for all, and creativity, not money, is what counts. It’s not simply who you wear, but how you wear it.