H&M’s latest spring offering, a collection called The New Mix, features pieces that have an uncanny resemblance to industry-favorite looks from Balenciaga, Celine and Kenzo.
As the fast-fashion retailer sales continue to decline, with a brief reprieve in April as the once-thriving clothing retailer struggles to hold on to customers, it seems to have found an answer in high-end designs once again.
One white jersey bustier, retailing for $19.95, looks strangely similar to Balenciaga’s white crop top from the spring 2013 collection – which Kristen Stewart turned heads wearing at last year’s On The Road premiere.
The thermoformed crossover top, made of laser cut-outs, retails at Balenciaga for $1,535.
At Celine, Pheobe Philo sent out a spring 2013 collection, in store now, of stylish, but slovenly elegant pieces in a mostly black and white offering.
One particular dress, the textured Sable dress, was an instant hit with buyers and fashion editors, and H&M seems to have taken note.
The brand’s $24.95 jersey tank top with mesh at the front “for a deep V-neck effect”, is a mirror-image of the Celine dress, which retails for $3,250 in crepe, or $2,900 in silk satin.
And taking Kenzo’s $255 sell-out Tiger motif to similar heights is a gray sweater from H&M featuring a comparable multi-colored, growling tiger – and customers don’t seem troubled that the company appears to be trading in knockoffs.
One commenter on live journal, Fashin, said she believes democratization of high-fashion is a good thing.
“Designer clothes cost tens of thousands of dollars, why pay when you can get the same thing for $40?” she wrote.
“People like you and I and the rest of the middle class world want to look stylish but don’t want to go broke doing it. I get that copying is wrong, though, but it’s almost justified given the outrageous prices designers put on their clothes.”
H&M has never made a secret of its relentless to chase trends and cater to an ever-widening, insistently competitive fast-fashion market.
While the retailer’s fashion-designer collaborations and celebrity collections get a lot of media attention, Beyonce’s H&M swimwear campaign being one recent example, its prices- 60% cheaper than Zara’s but more expensive that Forever 21, have left H&M struggling to position itself.
While customers often bypass 90% of the store’s offerings, stocked heavily with basics such as T-shirts and trousers, many call the remainder – such as look-a-like Balenciaga tops for less than $20, “an incredible buy”.
One woman, referring to the retailer’s frequent turnover of styles that mimic high-end designs, tweeted: “I like how it’s accessible.”
But another commenter, who cherishes the exclusivity of owning a designer piece before it is turned into a reproduced bargain for the mass-market, explained to fellow forum members: “You like the fact that you can get your hands on similar pieces from the runway at a good price.
“However, now that you can afford it, so can everyone else and that makes the pieces less special.”
While a Twitter user, under the name Anon Model, was slightly more blunt: “H&M is the king of knock off stores. Just saw a Celine bag knock off, Balenciaga top… Have they no shame?!”