Discount lines by top designers (known as “bridge”, “mass market” or “diffusion” lines) were once a novelty, but in recent months? It’s become a fashion trend all it’s own. While the lines are being created by designers these days as more of an economic survival tactic (in this economy, $600 ostrich skin platform wedges just aren’t moving like they used to), some designers—like our imaginary BFF Isaac Mizrahi—pioneered the movement as a way to get stylish options to the fashion-loving masses.
Whatever the motivation, the consumer (that’s us) reaps the benefits—meaning designer duds at price points that previously relegated us to sub-standard fashion choices. And while not all designer budget lines are worth the cash—some of the GO! International lines at our beloved Target, for example, have been highly forgettable—there are some bridge and diffusion lines that deserve a place in your regular shopping rotation. Our top discount designers are below.
16 Great Discount Designer Lines
Norma Kamali. While we’re almost afraid at this point to mention the “W-M” word, we’re still going to include the Norma Kamali line at said big box retailer (ahem, Walmart ) on our list. Because, quite frankly (and we don’t think anyone’s arguing with this), the line is fab. And this isn’t Kamali’s first venture into budget fashion—she’s previously designed a line for Spiegel. Kamali’s a successful budget designer because a) she puts out pieces that are versatile, mix and match, and exceedingly wearable (the Wal-Mart line is primarily black, white, red, and Animal Print basics), and b) the quality doesn’t suffer just because it’s a “budget” line (which isn’t always the case).
Isaac Mizrahi. Obviously, Mizrahi is generally regarded as a recent pioneer of this particular fashion genre, and he led the charge with his revolutionary partnership with Target five years ago. We have consistently loved Mizrahi for his luxe looking designs (it’s all in the details, which some designers sacrifice when they go “budget”) and his classic party and even bridal offerings on the cheap. Sadly, this season is the last for Mizrahi’s Target partnership (a fact that still makes us break out in a cold sweat in the middle of the night)—but we’re pretty sure there’ll be plenty of Mizrahi for Target offerings in the clearance rotation for a little while longer . . .
Michael Kors. MICHAEL Michael Kors (available at Macy’s) is one of those bridge lines that falls (unlike the Kamali and Mizrahi ventures) just above the true “budget” category ($70 for a casual flutter sleeve top still ain’t cheap, no matter how you spin it). However, the collection is perpetually on sale (which makes us wonder why they bother with the retail price at all, but that’s a whole other post), so we can usually pick up pieces for more than half off, regularly. Kors, of course, knows how to design items for the real woman (read: practical and wearable instead of logo-splashed and gimmicky).