Designer-celeb team-ups generate extra buzz

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Designer-celeb team-ups generate extra buzz

Fast fashion retailers are starting to marry their affordable offerings with a touch of designer class.

To capture customers who aspire to luxury brands, fast fashion giants like H&M and Uniqlo are rolling out limited editions collaborations with designer brands including Jimmy Choo, Versace and Jill Sander.

Those items are especially popular among young customers who love luxury brands but can’t afford them.

Collaboration items created a major buzz for the retailers. When H&M offered items made in conjunction with Versace in Korea last year, each customer was only given 10 minutes to shop.

“I got an H&M for Versace scarf for 59,000 won,” [$53] said Hwang Jeong-hyun, a 23-year-old college student. “Given that you have to pay tens of thousands of won to buy an actual Versace scarf, collaborations are a good alternative.”

“H&M, with over 2,000 stores in 35 countries, enjoys lots of publicity and elevates its brand image by forming collaborations with celebrity designers and artists,” said Yeom Min-seon, a researcher at the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “Because collaboration items are sold in limited periods of time, customers feel they have to get them fast. Otherwise they’ll be gone.”

H&M originated the idea with a collaboration with designer Karl Lagerfeld in 2004. In February it released David Beckham Bodywear for H&M and it’s scheduled to release H&M for Marni in collaboration with the Italian high fashion brand in March.

“H&M is continuously coming up with exciting and surprising new fashion ideas,” said Chung Hae-jin, a public relations official at H&M Korea. “Our collaborations with designers and style icons communicate our business concept - fashion and quality at the best price - and clearly show that design doesn’t necessarily mean a high price.”

Uniqlo has sold a +J collection in collaboration with German designer Jill Sander from Oct. 2009 to this month. It is scheduled to launch a new collection, Uniqlo Undercover, in collaboration with Japanese designer Takahashi Jun on March. 16.

“+J Collection generated synergies both for Uniqlo and Jill Sander,” said Kim Tae-woo, a marketing manager at Uniqlo Korea. “While Uniqlo improved its image as being both luxurious and sensible, Jill Sander earned an opportunity to approach mainstream customers. We’ll continue to find collaboration opportunities with fashion designers.”

Industry sources said Zara doesn’t do collaborations.

“Zara has been shying away from celebrity designers because it wants to avoid a potentially catastrophic situation when scandals involving the designers or artists break out and its image is hurt,” said an industry source.

By Kim Mi-ju []

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