Whilst H&M announce Isabel Marant as their Latest Collaboration, I remain unmoved

by Katie on June 11, 2013

You may already have heard the news that the majority of the Team Fashion are wetting their dainty knicks about this morning, but I remain a stalwart and unmoved – The high street’s favourite proponent of guest collaborations (H&M) has announced French designer, Isabel Marant, as their next release come November ’13.


So what’s Marant known for? In a few words, laid-back French peasant meets faint rock-chick tinged chic. But, and I say this as a bona fide lover of all things rock and chic(k), the label does little to kindle my enthusiasm. 

I’ve written about this before. It is, however, one of those labels that sends most fashion editors into gibbering idiots over her Ikat jackets and Beckett trainers (above) et al. To be frank, The Blessed Marant seems to deliver a range of ordinary pieces with an element of design that operates like the trendified French version of Whistles (and we know what I think of that now don’t we?). Pieces that allow a modicum of taste to be indulged and explored but pliable enough to dress up with other more known identifiable pieces for those days in the fashion cupboard or travelling to fashion appointments and international catwalk shows. 

Which is all well and good excepting the fact that 99% of the population already have wearable indistinct clothing on tap courtesy of most of the high street stores who aren’t grasping greedily at trend and servicing the general populace of women of a certain age. It’s just that these haven’t the name or the kudos for fashion to get behind. Proffer the idea that that plainly styled Marant intarsia knit sweater can be bought at M&S and fits of the vapours will break out at fashion publications up and down the country. But it’s true. 

A bit like the emperors new clothes, these labels offer a conscious rendering of perceived good taste. Whether that translates to the high street on release is debatable. What may just occur is a transmutation of lines. If anything, Marant and others in her strata highlight exactly what the younger fashion trend chains should be churning out (as opposed to slashed jersey courtesy of Ri-Ri’s line at River Island) courtesy of their own distinct and respectable brand names.

With Isabel Marant, I highly suspect that your ordinary girl in the high street may offer up a ‘who’s that?’ if questioned, unless they’re stapled to their weekly edition of Grazia and have been brainwashed into the cult. It may not be acceptable to remind readers that (whilst this  writer genuinely rates H&M and their collaborations) Maison Martin Margiela tanked in sales compared to other designer links despite the glossy launch and the brilliant ads. Perhaps this may have been a failure in pricing (with Margiela items retailing higher than average re most other collaborations) but it may also have been to down to the fact that the name was, dare I say it, too cultish and avant-garde for most of H&M’s market?

Marant, no doubt, leapt at the chance to advocate her main ready-too-wear range and build her brand name with a global audience whilst H&M had the glory of nailing an ‘acceptable to fashion’ under-the-radar label that was the polar opposite of Margiela. The real news here is that Marant is dipping her toe in the global ocean and expected to design an inaugural range of clothes for men for H&M. No doubt, another marketing and PR opportunity for the Marant label to gauge the success of running their own menswear line?


Like Margiela, Isabel Marant, while being a completely different design ethos, is just as fashion cultish. What may have fashion insiders in a tizz, may just equate to a damp squib come November. We’ll see.

Catwalk images of Isabel Marant’s Fall’13 show by kind courtesy of style.com

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