The idea of making luxury products available in a non-luxury marketplace may seem upsetting, counterproductive, and compromising in a negative manner to traditionally exclusive, luxury brands. And I must admit, I see the just caution and hesitation in mixing luxury with non-luxury. The general public view and sentiments of industry insiders would not be favourable, for example, if Gucci suddenly started collaborating with Kia to produce a "luxury" version of the discount imported automobile. Miley Cyrus might have won more middle-class and lower-than-middle class children when she debuted her clothing line at discount retailer Wal-Mart - but didn't win any glamour points for her at the Academy Awards, no matter how hard she tried.
When luxury companies and high-end designers collaborate with non-traditional entities, they must do so with attention and research. Liberty of London, Alexander McQueen, and Jean Paul Gaultier all recently have produced collections bearing their name and insight with trendy discount retailer Target. The difference: the Target demographic might not necessarily own any of the actual products from these brands, but the consumer base is not only aware of the brands, thanks in part to mainstream luxe-obsessed entertainment like The Devil Wears Prada and Sex and the City, but they lust after the famous creators and promote the story, the romance, and the excitement typically associated with the much more expensive Couture versions.
When you have access to a customer base that knows your products and dreams of one day owning a piece actually inspired, let alone designed by a famous designer or fashion icon, you instantly have success while retaining your corporate identity. It's not to say that the discounted version is going to take the place of the luxury collections. I'd much rather see big designers create a limited edition, heavily publicized, affordable sampling of ready-to-wear clothes, accessories, or homegoods for Target, than to dumb-down, cut corners, or not remain committed to their original design inspiration, aesthetic, or commitment to quality and excellence.
Bringing a luxury powerhouse like McQueen or Gaultier to Target is beneficial to both parties. Target, already known for being trendy and more fashionable than closest competitor Wal-Mart, increases their value and solidifies their place as the number one choice for the customer who prioritizes value, quality, and design. And in turn, these big designers expand their potential customer base, market reach, and brand awareness.
No matter your budget, being fashionable is always en vogue.