Death To The Fashion Collab

Everyone and their cat is doing a fashion collaboration these days. Enough!

Rocstar/Premiere/CPR/FAMEFLYNET

Kate Bosworth at Coachella in her Topshop line.

Kate Bosworth is doing a “festival” line for Topshop and all it makes me feel is emptiness. And exhaustion. I’ve already analyzed Coachella’s worst trends this week and I’m still exhausted from it, and covering this BosShop line is already wearing me out. Because I just can’t breathlessly enthuse over another one of these collaborations, I just can’t.

Bloggers like me used to get giddy over any and ALL fashion collaborations. Some elite European designer would sign on to do a line for H&M or Target and then everyone on the fashion internet would freak out about how OMG we’ll be able to afford Lanvin and Margiela and Alexander McQueen (or at least, sell it on eBay for some ridiculous markup). Even though we were really just buying slightly specialized H&M or Target clothes, fashion land managed to convince us we were getting the very McQueen or whatever label itself. Even Kate Moss for Topshop was a treat, in the early days of collabs. The line was cool because she’s always been cool and when Opening Ceremony sold it in New York it only became even cooler because everything Opening Ceremony does is cool (*shakes fist at OC’s unerring coolness*).

But that was then — the glorious days of 2008, when there weren’t a million unnecessary collaborations with everyone with some connection to the fashion industry, be it divine talent or just that they wear clothes.

Now we have Kate Bosworth doing music festival clothes for Topshop. I love Topshop. I think Kate Bosworth has great style! She wears the hell out of Jil Sander! I absolutely love looking at her red carpet pics. But this line is downright fraught, because:

1. Kate Bosworth doesn’t need to “design” (read: put her name on to pretend she created) clothes. She’s first and foremost an actress — a fashionable one, but still an actress. And that’s good! She should keep doing that! Because in an industry where people are famous for nothing more than being photographed wearing outfits, it’s refreshing when style icons actually have a profession/talent to back up their fame.

2. 90% of people look terrible at music festivals. This is the point of music festivals. You get to show up looking like a complete wacko because you’re going to spend the day dancing and making duckface and getting drinks spilled on you and sweating and touching other sweaty people. Music festival outfits are throwaway clothes. Use once and destroy. Is that something Bosworth wants to be part of her fashion legacy?

3. Topshop is already one giant music festival line. Believe me, if I want some a tight dress I can’t wear to work with a weird pattern on it that won’t cost a lot of money, I already know to look at Topshop. Ditto: Nasty Gal but Topshop was first and has way more options that are guaranteed to cover one’s crotch, so.

And this isn’t the only unnecessary collaboration of late. Target just launched a line by stylist Kate Young that was really disappointing. And yet: Kate Young is great! Target is great! But Target was not the Will.i.am to Kate Youngs’s Britney Spears. Scream and shout but you don’t have to let it out at all. Forcing a line like that only stands to hurt each collaborater — Target looks like it’s running out of partners and Kate Young looks like she’s so eager to launch a line she can’t bother to find a company that will help her do one that does justice to her talents. She could have Rachel Zoe’d it and put out a line that was all her own, at a higher price point and of better quality that stayed on the sales floor for seasons rather than just a month or so. (Snooki has multiple product lines of her own — Kate Young can definitely do it, too.)

And let’s look at Rihanna’s River Island line: all it did was give the press 12,000 excuses to make fun of Rihanna. (I’d argue that actually worked in the line’s favor since it made it ironically cool, but that was a fluke outcome and I might be the only person who feels that way.) The collab gave Rihanna and River Island a lot of press, but all it did was contribute to the already overcrowded canon of ever disposable, borderline unwearable High Street clothing.

Even the collaborations with legit talented designers are getting harder to get excited about. The few labels who have refrained from doing cheaper one-off lines that would be worth enthusing over would probably never do them anyway (Givenchy or Celine, for instance). But the problem with these designer lines is that everyone who looks at fashion knows where the pieces have come from — it’s almost impossible to wear an item from a designer collaboration and maintain a cool air of mystery about your look. And isn’t it cooler to wear a bunch of things of unrecognizable provenance than a bunch of things everyone who follows fashion can recognize instantly?

So, here’s an idea: no more collaborations. At least for a year. Ideally two. Let us miss them, at least. It’s like when Lady Gaga had to take time off. Don’t we miss her now instead of rolling our eyes at her Terry Richardson photos all the time?

And instead of hiring celebrities to put their names on random collections, just put them in ad campaigns. It will get just as much buzz as any line you might have them “design.” You can make videos of the photo shoots and everything! There’s plenty of internet mileage to get out of a campaign.

Lastly, look at Zara. For all the obviously knocked off stuff they sell, they also have plenty of random generally nice-looking items. And it’s a store that has zero collaborations and always has covetable stuff. It’s one of those few places where you can get something neat for cheap and people will go, “Great jacket! Who’s it by?” and you can gleefully say, “Zara!” taking pride in your thrifty ways.

Topshop, H&M, Target, etc. all have fashion caché at this point. They don’t need random collaborations to maintain it.

Premiere/CPR/Rocstar/FAMEFLYNET

Kate at Coachella again. Is this part of her Topshop line too? Maybe. Does it make you want to buy the line?

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