Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rodarte does Down Market

News flash. The girls have grabbed the greasy brass ring. Bravo! Target has signed the award winning pair to design a line for the store. Supposedly it is the largest number of styles the store has done with any of it's previous designers to date: 55-60 styles. So the queens of the staples, wires and glue gun have cobbled their way to the big time. The first press pics of it's debut showed up today and they were mind blowing!!!!!
I don't use that description lightly....Mind blowing, trans formative, otherworldly, unrecognizable and totally disconnected to anything you've seen coming from them. Granted , I saw a handful of styles but they had absolutely NO CONNECTION with the aesthetic of anything they've done before. If it didn't say Rodarte, one would be hard pressed to know who designed it. A cute cocktail dress a la de la Renta, a Gap-ish jacket over a layered tulle dress with big, bad, butch boots and then an unappetizing little cocktail, cum slip dress that looked like Stella McCartney on a semi good day, which for me is a misnomer... I'm still waiting for Stella to have a good day.
One must applaud their savvy to hook their raft onto a steam ship while the tide is low. For my money I'd say theyhave run aground , but hey, get it while you can if it's there to get. God knows the food chain is pretty sparse .
My confusion is that the Mulleavy sisters have been so adamantly "Indie", with clothes that are unlike most in the marketplace, staying away from the fray in sunny California and then suddenly going super mainstream with clothes that appear to have little or no relationship to what they are known for. I won't presume that the larger United States are unaware of their presence in popular fashion, but let's face it...they are at best,very"Insidery" and an acquired taste. What is Target thinking to choose such specifically marginal designers. That is not a value judgement but a practical business question. Vera Wang is several steps out on the retail gang plank Kohl's. She's been reasonably successful, having maintained a semblance of her look, such as it is. This Rodarte for Target looks like an exercise in design schizophrenia. Why be such Purists and then turn around and pump derivative clothes? Clothes derived from other company's formulae with a label that barely resonates beyond the fashion centers of this country and those of a handful of others.This is not to say the clothes look bad, they don't. The quality looks good from where I'm sitting.
Nevertheless, I hope it brings them financial rewards and a larger , broader audience. They are hardworking talented designers. The customer at Target is a tough Mistress, even when the price is right. Will a move in this direction make them bigger fish in a smaller pond or will the water just become muddy and murkier for everyone involved?


WendyB said...

Interesting. Certainly in those pictures it doesn't look at all like anything they're known for.

Unknown said...

I applaud Target for following the age old tradition of introducing designers that are on the edge or in the middle of "inside" if fashion. I.M. aside, his platform for introducing his line was the intensity of his involvement, I can't help but wonder how involved the designers are with the design, quality and production of the clothing that bears their names. Ten years from now I suspect some truths will come out in auto-biographies.

I rarely buy anything more than house, health & beauty necessities at Target, things that I consistantly need, use and am brand conscious about because of product quality. Their clothing, regardless of the "designer" on label, always leaves me wanting more, even at "that price" because most of it, regardless of "designer" on the label, mimics what is on the market from brands that are known to issue and re-issue tweaks in styles rather than earth-shattering shifts at similar prices. Also the quality, for me, leaves something to be desired. There's something "not" right about many of their "designer" lines. Perhaps it's my expectation that the quality be higher than the other lines they carry? Even the quality of cheap shoes and accessories leave me wanting to head to Old Navy, Walmart, Pay Half or some other knock-off-for-us-masses chain and buy a brand that isn't attempting to give me "brand/name" but style without apology at "cheap" prices.

chris in sf said...

ahh... another brand joins the fold and embraces the new business model for the trade.
instead of waiting for the big box stores to sell cheap knock-offs of your stuff, join them and sell them yourself. Slap your label on stuff made in a factory in the far East and watch your bank account grow in the hope of being able to keep your high end business afloat. it also gives you exposure to a new clientele...
it's all so logical, no? except, of course, when the high end and low end don't match... and the fact that the new-found customers can't afford your high-end anyway (which doesn't solve that problem) and you end up diluting the value of your brand, cheapening it I say. Why buy one Rodarte smock at a boutique when you can get it's sibling at Target for 75% off along with some crocs, pepto and, a pint of motor oil?

km said...

Definitely something to think about-- but I honestly don't think it will hurt their brand at all. They are finally starting to become trendy among those not explicitly connected to the fashion industry, and this will only increase their recognition.

p.s.-- fluff, i LOVE your blog!!!

Fluff Chance said...

You're one of the few who has taken the high road with optimism and good sense. You're probably absolutely right. I'm quick to judge and you make me stop and think. your kindness does not go unappreciated. thank you.

Anonymous said...

I took a chance on a Rogan for Target dress and it has been my go-to dress this summer. The buttons are not the greatest (intended to change them) and I added my own belt but essentially the cut on this dress is superior to other no-name dresses you'd find at places such as Target.

As long as the sisters hold true to their vision and offer up something more than the homogenous suburban uniforms Target usually stocks it's a good thing. There is a real appeal in the idea of offering up fashion to the masses.

Anyway, t won't make me stop loving their real stuff.

M&B said...

With so many of these young designers being pushed into the market so prematurely in their careers and most being too clueless to know better, they have a shallower and shorter learning curve than, say, Marc, Anna, Issac or Micheal did in their day. Which is certainly why most of what they present looks more like ideas than clothes.

Is it any wonder that, given the opportunity, they can't make a commercial opportunity gel with their "artistic" vision? The question isn't why these perfectly realistic clothes don't resemble their collection. It's why does their collection not offer more clothes that real people might actually want to wear?

Love the blog!

x said...

Maybe its a case of "Sometimes you need to do what you don't like, in order to be able to do what you like!" I think Warren Buffet said that and it aptly describes the situation!

But it hurts to see this collection of theirs especially after getting accustomed to their runway glory!Especially that slip with some satin bow tie ups, they are plain tacky!It just shows how bad the situation is and how desperate designers are getting to stay afloat!We are facing the brunt of relentless consumerism!

P Adhikari.