Thursday, July 20, 2006

The De-Mark-ation of Design


At about this time last year there was a frenzy surrounding Mark Eisen. The former Perry Ellis designer was coming out of semi-retirement to debut Karoo, a luxurious line of knitwear with innovative designs and reasonable price points.

Generous coverage in the New York Times Sunday Style Section, followed by a late summer trunk show at Bergdorf’s, and all the fashion folks were a-talkin’.

I signed on early. His grey cashmere shrug hung around my shoulders from the hot summer nights of July til the wintry ways of January and February.

I bought a wool-blend deep v-neck in September, a ribbed black cashmere turtleneck in January and a thick sleeveless cable-knit mock-turtle in March.

Come to think of it, I haven’t purchased that many pieces from a single collection since I shopped at Abercrombie in ninth grade. I was hooked, and so was everyone else.

So what did Eisen do with his re-discovered success? Parlayed it into the mass-market, of course!

That’s right; a 35-piece collection for Wal-Mart label George ME by Mark Eisen hits the chain of super-duper markets this September.

Expect recycled silhouettes, prone-to-pill fabrics and $17.98 (and falling) prices.

But if you’re the type of person who will wait in line overnight at H&M for the designer diffusion du jour, then perhaps this is for you.

Final Word: What’s next, the $9.99 twin-set at Sam’s Club? I wouldn’t be surprised.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Karl Lagerfeld for H & M? Luella Bartley for Target? These I understand. But Mark who? Please, the only reason designers do mass is because their name/reputations can afford the hit, but to do this after 1 successful season of sweaters? I think that's a bit bold. Eisen may have played the "mass market" card a little too soon.

alex said...

the only reason designers do diffusion lines is to make money!

totally an issue on quantity over quality, and wal-mart has got that concept nailed

eisen will be laughing all the way to the bank

Anonymous said...

obviously it's to make money, but a) it's too soon (in this business timing is everything and b) he's an idiot to put his name on it when he's just starting out like this. plenty of designers do mass market, they're just smart enough to call it something else or do it in japan.

he'll be laughing all right, but once he squanders the wal mart profit away (and he will squander it), no designer dud wearing self-respecting girl will wear something that was in wal mart before it was in vogue. sorry alex.

Eazy-E said...

Since the BB’s last post sparked a bit of reaction from our devoted readers I thought I would comment on all the commenting — for starters I think its great that a big box retailer like WalMart (who usually endorses clothing lines by the likes of pseudo public figures like Kathy Lee Gifford) even has the savvy to find an under the radar name like Mark Eisen, its practically brilliant because they have us talking about it. This sort of thinking is only the beginning too… for H&M’s much anticipated fall designer debut they chose Viktor & Rolf — while many of you are already familiar with Dutch duo, their conceptual designs don’t exactly provide an easy class to mass translation. However, there will still be frenzied line on debut day and the collection will no doubt sell out in the same record-breaking time frame as McCartney’s and Lagerfeld’s collection did.

Then there’s Nine West jumping on the bandwagon with their debut collection of three designer collaborations with the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Thakoon. Westwood’s London punk rock roots are well known through out the world, but Thakoon is more Vogue designer profile than influential fashion icon. More importantly, both are especially abnormal choices for Nine West whose target demographic is more middle American soccer mom than fashionista-in-training.

But all these examples prove that fashion has become a global marketplace for all consumers at all points of entry — not only will this sort of guerilla marketing tactic work in their favor, but it will give them leverage to increase their brand name globally and certainly won’t hurt their image and credibility with their higher priced collections. I say right on Eisen, way to go Thakoon!

BTW- look out for Paul & Joe this fall at your local Target, in stores this August.

DMoney said...

wait....is paul & joe really coming to target?!?! sick

Eazy-E said...

Yes, they really are coming to Target! Look out for cute floral camis, tweed cape jackets, and adorable mini babydoll dresses...

Anonymous said...

I knew that sh-t like last year...

stef rosendo said...

i miss you d! kisses...great blog girls! nicole- you can only shop at 5th ave imix: no soho!! haha

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