Wang for H&M Misses Mark

Designer collaborations with fast fashion retailers are
without a doubt huge successes. Target’s collabs always result in massive
sales, insane lines and a few black eyes. During these ‘exclusive’ sales, most
women—and a few men—throw civility and manners out the window. The chance to score a 3.1
Phillip Lim handbag or a shaggy sweater from Isabel Marant is a do-or-die
situation, and animal instincts are in full effect. 

The newest, high-low collab features Alexander Wang for H&M. Considered the wunderkind of the urban
uniform, Wang is sure to break the bank, a few bones and possibly the Internet in this collab with the giant Swedish retailer. Of course, his version of urban is more Upper East Side chic than cornrows and bodegas. 

Most of these high-low partnerships end up with designers
recreating some of their most popular high-end or couture designs, the only
difference being that the new designs are made with cheaper materials and
come with a lower, budget-friendly price tag. 

This typical mode of production
didn’t appeal to Wang’s taste for the edgy and nonconformist, though. All of his
designs for H&M are brand new and have never seen the bright lights of a
catwalk.

When I first heard this news, I was truly excited. I found Wang’s decision to try something original refreshing and appreciated his willingness to put his creative genius to the
task of making fun pieces with a price that I, and many others, could get behind. Unfortunately, the best ideas don’t always produce the best results, and, after watching the runway show and viewing the online lookbook, I found myself terribly disappointed with the entire collection.

Full disclosure: If I were handed a check for 20 grand, I wouldn’t head straight to
an Alexander Wang flagship store or even to his corner in Bergdorf’s or Neiman Marcus.
Alexander Wang does make great clothes, but his style just doesn’t fit my own
personal flair. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t save up for or gladly accept a free handbag—his line of accessories is wonderful and can easily be incorporated into any
wardrobe. 

The line’s lack of accordance with my own style didn’t dampen my excitement for Wang’s H&M debut, though. I had every intention to purchase something—that is, until I got a look at the complete lookbook. To put it
bluntly, Wang’s entire collection is an egotistical joyride with absolutely zero
concern for how stupid most people will look if they decide to purchase his
clothing or, if they take a crazy pill, try to pull off an entire outfit from
his collection.

The majority of his items are emblazoned with “WANG” across the
front, down the back, or on the sides. Mr. Wang’s ego is out and proud—he
must get a jolt of joy every time he forces one of his models to wear a
beanie with his name printed on it in bold, block lettering. Excuse my
immaturity, but I will burst out laughing upon seeing someone walking
around with a beanie sporting “WANG” across the top. Is the fashion industry oblivious to phallically synonymous words plastered across one’s head?

Besides the hats
and other Wang paraphernalia, the collection seems truly oblivious to the
needs of the average consumer. Most of the dresses are impossible to wear with a
bra, and let’s get real: Most women need
to wear a bra. It pretty much takes an A-cup to be appropriately braless and flawless. 

Mr. Wang said that he wanted this collection to be a mixture
of sporty athleticism and urban chic, and he capitalized on sporty design almost to a fault. A
bulk of the collection is filled with leggings and boxy, scuba-style
sweatshirts. While leggings aren’t necessarily a bad thing, I do expect more
than stretchy cotton from a top designer. What’s more, I expect that leggings won’t cost
upward of $50 just because they have “WANG” printed on them. 

Yet another disappointment, the collaboration featured a dismaying lack of handbags and shoes. The bags created are an odd mixture of duffles and backpacks—not something I’m interested
in carrying around full-time. Created from weird materials and shapes, the shoes were not at all sleek or chic and left something to be desired. 

Alexander Wang for H&M is an overall lesson in clashing aesthetics, but at least
my wallet can sleep soundly at night. If you’re still eager to check out the
collection, it hits stores Nov. 6. Get ready
for a battle!  

Chabrina Bruno PO ’15 is a religious studies major with a minor in studio art. She loves to collect vintage clothing and jewelry. 

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