I've had my eye on a couple of this season's designer collaborations -- specifically Thakoon for Designation at Kohl's and Adam Lippes x Target. Both designers make interesting and beautiful clothing that is typically pretty far out of my price range, and even better, neither is the caliber of designer that is likely to create a shopping frenzy and cause people to behave like barbarians. I find that these high-low collaborations really need to be seen in person, so this weekend I had a chance to pop in for a bit of a reconnaissance mission.
Thakoon for Designation at Kohl's
Thakoon for Designation at Kohl's
Kohl's has had a lot of success attracting some really impressive contemporary designers for it's Designation line, including Catherine Malandrino, Peter Som, and Milly. The collections have been a bit hit or miss, but always worth a look. What's always confusing for me is Kohl's pricing strategy. I deal with a bit of sticker shock when I reach for those first few tags, and then remember that there's always a sale, and regular Kohl's shoppers are usually armed with coupons. So if you're interested, remember to do your homework to get the best price.
The good news...
There were a few nice pieces here. Nothing that convinced me to pull the trigger, but nice nonetheless. I didn't see this wool jacket in my store (not going to be a big seller in Florida), but I loved this plaid fabric (used elsewhere in the collection) and this short coat is practical and chic. This floral top is quite pretty. It has sporty style, almost like a crewneck sweatshirt, but the fabric is silky and elegant. It's not something I could see myself wearing a lot, but if money and closet space were no object, I'd snap it up (note: if you can, try this on before buying -- you don't want a baggy fit, but the material doesn't have a ton of stretch so you might want to check a few sizes). I like this black and white dress quite a lot -- the modern plaid print is fun, and this flowy shift style is kind of effortless and cool. Just not something I particularly need in my closet right now. And the same could be said for this pretty blouse. A nice piece for work and play, but somehow not quite special enough to get me to take it home.
I was pretty disappointed in this knit sweater. It looked great online but kind of thick and shapeless in person. I think you'd have to have modelesque proportions to pull it off. I love a great print sweater, but I thought this one was a bit juvenile, almost like a bad piece you'd pick up on vacation. This shapeless blouse didn't work for me -- that ruffle hit me exactly where you do not want a ruffle hanging around. My hoo-ha doesn't need a curtain. And this little twist on a classic oxford was a nice try, but ultimately creates a blouse that seems unflattering and impractical.
Adam Lippes x Target
I'm pretty sure after the Lilly fiasco of earlier this year, I swore "never again" when it came to their designer collaborations, but here we are. I knew this collection would have a much smaller audience and wouldn't require lining up at dawn to throw elbows and I thought the commercials were cute, so I was willing to give it another go.
Unfortunately, this line wasn't a winner for me. This may actually be Target's karmic revenge for so badly handling the Lilly launch. I thought most of the pieces were pretty bad, but there were a few gems. This pretty blouse looks as good in person as it did online, but unfortunately they didn't have my size. Same goes for these windowpane flats (I preferred the flats over the pumps in the same pattern, but both were nice). And this flannel fabric bucket bag ticks a lot of boxes for fall trends (quality seemed slightly better than your average Target bag). I expect a lot of this will end up going to clearance, so I'll keep my eyes out for those happy little red tags.
Honestly, everything else. I wasn't impressed with anything of the other pieces my local store had. You can see where all of the corners were cut -- bad fabrics, unflattering cuts, weird colors. Let's start with this plaid coat. Would you like to look at least twice as big as you actually are? Oh, you wouldn't? This weekend bag is all form, no function. It looks great, but it won't hold much -- I mean, I think you could barely stuff that ugly plaid coat in there. This poncho is...awful. And the fabric in this blouse was odd -- so thin but somehow stiff and crunchy. Do not want.
So, all in all: meh. I have such mixed feelings about these collabs. I still remember the excitement of Isaac Mizrahi's Target line and Stella McCartney's amazing collection for H&M all those years ago. It just made a lot of sense. Why not take those brilliant, high-end designers and match them with retailers who could produce clothes in quantities and at prices that are accessible to the masses? You're not going to get runway caliber looks, but that's cool. I don't have plans to be on a runway (or a red carpet, or the Oscars) anytime soon. These lines should be a win-win-win, but it is kind of amazing how many times they miss the mark. I want to see smart, wearable clothes, not sad ponchos and hoo-ha curtains.
Still, I'm hopeful that the next one, or maybe the one after that, will bring back the fun. See you at UNIQLO later this month?