Spring Fashion Week 2007 Day 4: The Fashion Hierachy

New American designer Hilton Hollis has been getting quite a bit of press lately, so when I received an email from a reader about his collection, I decided to take a peek. From a design perspective, the line doesn’t look like anything new, but from a PR, branding and overall marketing perspective, what’s interesting about Hollis’ line is that he is directly targeting those who purchase in the mid price range-skipping higher end customers all together.

This is an interesting approach because it has the possibility of challenging fashion’s hierarchy. So what’s this hierarchy? According to the wonderful blog, Fashion Incubator (who also reviewed the Hollis line), here’s the basic breakdown of the hierarchy (I added in the mass market category) and my very rough definitions of each category.

The Fashion Hierarchy

* Haute Couture—“High Fashion” (Chanel, Dior, made to wear items from top, usually Parisian designers). A much over-used term.

* Designer RTW (Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, pre-made and sold on the racks)

* Bridge (not quite Chanel, but not quite Jones New York. This term is used a lot and the line between bridge and contemporary seems to be blurred).

* Contemporary (Basically the stuff sold at the department stores and includes designers like Tracey Reese and Nanette Lepore to Ellen Tracy and Dana Buchman)

* Mass Market (Isaac Mizrahi at Target, Lagerfeld at H&M, etc)

Are young designers starting aspire to be more like Isaac Mizrahi (at Target) than Christian Dior?  Are we going to start to see designers start their lines at places like Target or Wal-Mart and then work their way up the fashion hierarchy? Are we seeing this trend because the line has been so blurred between Haute Couture and Mass Market? Why should a shopper pay $30,000 for a Haute Couture dress when they can get the a dress from the designer for $30 at H&M?

For an excellent glossary on fashion terms and terminology, check out the always informative blog Fashion Incubator. The blog is like 2 years of fashion design school online.


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Catherine Brock

As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine, DrLaura.com, Refinery29, Wellness.com and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.

Blog Comments

I believe that the overwhelming swarm of the paparrazi and the NEW channels we have for candid access into the personal lives of celebrities are increasing the demand for “that look”.

Everyone walks down their own red carpet baby!

We need more designers like Hilton Hollis!!

Liz Brouwers

Fashion is supposed to be fun and it’s not much fun to always sit on the side lines! I like the idea of everyone being able to join in the fun and if the price is right for others to be involved, more power to these new designers 🙂

My dear, this is a sorry trend, I must say.  In the circles I travel in (the haute monde of New York City), one would never be caught DEAD in anything that cost less than the down-payment on a six-bedroom apartment in a Very Good Neighborhood.  In fact, in order to educate and enlighten the masses, I am working with a large foundation (sponsored by Bill Gates) on a project called “Haute Cou-Poor,” in which we will bring the finest in fashion to the great unwashed: Chanel, St. Laurent, Prada—but not Valentino or Versace.  One has one’s limits.

You can read more at http://diaryofamadfashionista.blogspot.com/index.html

Hey there!
Thanks for the link love! And darn, my site was down in the middle of the busiest part of the day yesterday.

The thing about the designer lines getting even pricier is that it leaves a hole in the market for new designers to get in. Like Hollis as you so aptly noted.

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