By Isabella Aballi
In studying the democratization of fashion, the emergence of high street fashion and "masstige" are current day contributors to it. There is an increasing ability to redefine the meaning and image of luxury. The fashion industry has developed the power to redefine luxury by creating a whole different branch of fashion: “new luxury.” New Luxury is what results from high fashion luxury brands extending their companies to a wider consumer base through different strategies, the most effective one being: brand collaborations (Ginman). Through the examination of H&M’s designer collaborations, it becomes clear how the fashion industry, and specifically H&M as a brand, is attempting and successfully achieving to break from the high street branch of fashion and transcending into the realm of luxury fashion during the circulation of these collections while still maintaining their previous brand image that categorizes them as either high fashion or high street fashion.
While discussing the reproduction of fashion for the masses in the way H&M does, Benjamin offers insight into the destruction of the aura. According to Benjamin once an art work is reproduced for the masses it loses its aura. However, these designer collaborations present much more than an aura to its audience. Through H&M's designer collaborations with designers like Lanvin, Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney, it allows the consumer to access brands that he/she would not normally purchase whether it be foe economic reasons or disinterest and hesitation.
The reason why the designer collaborations are so successful for both H&M and the luxury brand is because the collection only happens once a year available for a limited amount of time and a designer is never repeated. The designer never fully attaches itself to the name H&M and therefore never loses the exclusive brand image that it has developed over the years. The collaboration generate attention to the brand and show its ability to appeal to the greater audience.
There is no doubt however that the major beneficiary of these collaborations is H&M. H&M is a global retailer known for its well priced fashion conscious clothing lines and when it collaborates for an annual collection with a luxury brand, the name of the brand itself is what gives H&M a temporary step up in the fashion world. Suddenly consumer that purchase products from luxury brands are willing to buy at H&M and consumers that buy at H&M on a regular basis can finally associate with luxury fashion.