Designer Collaborations – Yay or Nay?

Hmmm, tough one this….

Not sure why the recent proliferations of designer collaborations (ew what an awful sentence). Broadening the market in tough economic times? Getting a slice of the enormous growth of the high street?

Diffusion lines are common. Marc Jacobs has Marc by Marc Jacobs, Chloe has See by Chloe – both much cheaper than the main line. But lately designer collaborations in my opinion have diluted the market – H and M has had Karl Lagerfeld, Versace, Matthew Williamson, Jimmy Choo, Victor and Rolf, Stella McCartney, Marni and Isabel Marant, among others. Some of the items were good, others were awful. Quality varied enormously. Other chains have followed suit – New Look, Topshop you name it. But now that so many have entered the market, is it such a good idea anymore? Madonna sportswear and David Beckham undercrackers for H and M just don’t appeal. It feels a bit like Gucci or Pierre Cardin in the 1980s when they put their name on everything and the overfranchising diluted the brand value completely. Celebrity perfumes are another thing entirely – not my thing but Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds and Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely have been best sellers. And Justin Bieber’s name sells 1 bottle of ‘Girlfriend’ a minute. Though that’s another issue entirely. Don’t get me started on One Direction perfumes….

One of my most treasured posessions is a Mulberry Luella Giselle handbag (pictured above and below). Only done for a season – Luella couldn’t afford to produce bags so Mulberry did it for her. The bag was such a success that Luella became a brand of its own. Luella as a brand has closed down now but my Mulberry Luella is a thing of beauty. The quality and workmanship is absolutely fantastic and she understood the Mulberry market – the size, style, quality and workmanship fits 100% into the Mulberry brand. I have been offered a fortune for my one but will never ever part with it.

I can even understand Jonathan Saunders collaborating with Smythsons – his colour blocking works well on their designs and is true Jonathan Saunders. And of course Louis Vuitton has many collaborations. The most sought after are the Stephen Sprouse Graffiti bags.

But Alice Temperley for Filofax? Um, nope doesn’t work for me. On so many levels. The workmanship on the guts of the filofax (the rings) is shoddy. The designs are way overpriced. And the inserts (which are the most important thing in my opinion) are nothing special apart from designery flourishes here and there on the stationery. Last seasons Affair went for almost £400 and as far as I know you cannot get new inserts when your Temperley ones are done. This season’s ones are cheaper but they just don’t say Alice Temperley to me. I have one of her dresses and it has a totally different vibe. These just scream ‘a designer needs a new market and has put her name on something’. The similarity of the new Temperley Violet to the Aspinal Purple Croc is very striking. I like the Violet – in fact I even have one – but for a collaboration I would like something much closer to Filofax’s roots.

Sorry Filofax you need to do better. How about a collaboration with someone in the – here’s a an idea – planner market! Moleskine? Covey?  Even though they are competitors I am sure there is something to be gained by a small overlap as people usually combine one or two of them anyway. What about a design collaboration with a textile designer like Cecilia Birtwell? Or someone like Orla Kiely or Cath Kidston?

Or, best of all, Filofax, let the community at Philofaxy design a planner and inserts for you as part of a competition where the best three go into limited production. Now that I would pay good money for!

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

7 thoughts

  1. I absolutely love your Luella Bag! On a score of 1-10, it is a 15! Hope you are having a great day, Janet.

  2. Are you kidding me? I own this Luella bag in orange! It is beautiful, but heavy. I got it in Atlanta GA, USA. I have a couple other Luella handbags…they are wonderful.

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