Like so many other fans, I recently got caught up in Target’s Jason Wu-mania. I scoured the web for previews of the collection, picking out my favorite options, and because I had been burned before by Target’s designer collaborations (see the Missoni site-crash debacle), I set my alarm for 4 a.m. Arizona time on February 5 to pick up a few of those favorites. Apparently 4 a.m. wasn’t early enough, because intel from Target Style on Facebook and Twitter tipped off super-eager shoppers like me to the early and systematic release of items beginning at about 11 p.m. The whole release was so gamed, I felt like I was calling into the Nintendo hotline in the mid-’80s looking for cheats on how to save the Princess in Super Mario Bros.
So there I was, frantically updating my feeds and refreshing my browser to see what items were available: I see a dress for sale! Now there’s a cat t-shirt! I felt anxious and aggressive — and more than a little silly — as I piled items into my cart for about an hour, until the entire collection was available online. I went all-in and bought everything in my size that looked even remotely cute, reasoning I could just take back the items that didn’t work. It was a pretty smart system, I must say, because the stores were already picked over by the time we got there about noon on Sunday.
I waited a week for my Wu to arrive, during which time my enthusiasm had started to wane. Online chatter that week indicated that sizes ran big; I had gambled the wrong way and ordered up in case it ran small. So I was already pretty sure much of my purchases would not fit, which ended up being the case. I ordered a total of 13 items ranging from dresses to handbags to sweaters, and I ended up with only two: the navy cuffed shorts and navy circle print scarf.
Between the large — freakishly large in some cases — sizing and the strange cut of a few of the items, Jason Wu for Target ended up being a huge bust for me. It wasn’t much of a surprise, as I have had similar experiences with designer discount collaborations in the past, but it was a bit of a disappointment. Designer collaborations are ingenious in their promise to bring high fashion to the masses; Target, in particular, does a fantastic job of getting regular Janes like me to buy into the illusion that we can get something special for the same price as an everyday Mossimo sweater. But as is usually the case, you get what you paid for.
As a lover of fashion, I’m a sucker for big-name designers. I fawn over the beautiful garments that grace the runways at Fashion Week, and I long for the day I might wear one. But I think I’m done trying to emulate that through designer collaborations with discount retailers. For my money, I’d rather stick with mid-range retailers like J. Crew who consistently turn out high-quality fashions at relatively reasonable prices.
That said, I will approach the upcoming Marni for H&M line with cautious optimism. The lookbook is more than promising — especially the geometric blue print and funky metallic pumps below — but I’ve been down this road before. No more setting my alarm. I’ll hedge my bets in stores or online the week of March 8.