Sunday, March 06, 2005

Affordable fashion spells retail business success

The next collection from haute couture designer Karl Lagerfeld is not going to appear in exclusive boutiques, but at the Stockholm-based mass-market retailer H&M. Has Lagerfeld abandoned his traditional high-end clientele in favor of the great unwashed, who will be able to wear his tops, dresses and turtleneck sweaters this fall?
Not at all, says the revered 65-year-old designer with a penchant for ponytails, sunglasses and deep, dark, tropical tans. He's just moving with the tide as he sees it, taking his talent to where the fashion current's flowing.

"Because people who buy Chanel and other expensive things buy there, too," he said in an interview. "For me, this is fashion today. People wear t-shirts and jeans with exceptional things."
Starting in November, Lagerfeld's small line of clothing and accessories he is designing, called "Karl Lagerfeld for H&M," will appear on store racks at the retailer that specializes in serving up a non-stop stream of fashions priced for the comman man.

H&M, which opened its first shop in a Stockholm suburb in 1947, has hit fashion gold with its strategy of providing the latest fashion at inexpensive prices, with store collections that change at dizzying speeds. It has 991 stores in 19 countries. Cheap doesn't necessarily mean low-quality in this day and age.

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