Designer Collaborations Are Only A Good Thing When Done Right

JCPenney’s collaboration with designer Charlotte Ronson, I Heart Ronson, just came out, but I’m not going to buy anything from it. In fact, I’m getting a little sick of designers collaborating with big retailers.

When Target first began doing its Go International designer collaborations back in 2006 with Luella Bartley, I was beyond psyched. At the time, I was an assistant at a magazine and wasn’t making anywhere near enough to pay for some of the styles on its page. With Go International, I could at last afford clothes by the new designers everyone was talking about. And because the lines were nicely done and even the people who could afford the pricier stuff wanted pieces from them, there was no shame in buying a dress from Target. Now, just three short years later, the limited-edition designer collaboration is a formula that is getting a little tired. Target still does it, H&M does it, Uniqlo does it, and now JCPenney does it. Designers like partnering with big retailers because it can make them household names, but they need to bring their A game if they want their cheaper lines to be a hit. I Heart Ronson doesn’t look much different from what JCPenney sells on any other day: tank tops, cotton/poly tunics, and skinny jeans. The reason the Target lines have done so well is because those designers create clothes for people who care about fashion — and they sell out. Collaborations don’t work as well when the designer makes pieces with the retailer’s usual customers in mind. These, which will probably include I Heart Ronson, end up on the clearance rack in a month or so.