Remember when Isaac Mizrahi started designing for Target? At the time, the designer had pretty much stopped designing clothes altogether, and this seemed an odd step — coming back into fashion by making cheap clothes for a massive discount retailer? How... bourgeois. Now, of course, it's revitalized his entire brand and inspired a wave of other designers to follow suit. This year, of course, with luxury department stores suffering losses in the tens of millions, more and more designers are going affordable. Now just remember: no one wants a one-class system, so support your local boutiques and, yes, the designers you love are worth paying full-price for. That said, let the search for the most affordable summer outfit begin!
Gap's CFDA collection: Alexander Wang, Vena Cava (June 16)
Lastyear's theme was a crisp white shirt (re-envisioned by the likes of Phillip Lim and Band of Outsiders) and this year, Gap's invited some spectacular talent to try their hands at khaki. Don't panic: I know it sounds lackluster, but it ain't. Alexander Wang's motorcycle jacket and zippered trench were leaked early, followed by Vena Cava's iconic patterns encircling a scoop-neck dress and zippered tank dress. The lines for this one will be around the block.
Matthew Williamson for H&M
Initially launched April 23, the second half of Williamson's two-part capsule at H&M arrived on May 14 with more of his trademark colorful prints, embellishments, and Miami-meets-L.A. breezy sex appeal.
Kate Moss, Biba for Topshop
Much has been made about the supermodel's collaboration, and for good reason: It perfectly embodies Moss's signature blend of luxury, vintage, and short, short skirts. Some of her sequined minidresses may run over $200, but the flirty $100 floral dresses are spot-on for sticky New York summers. Similarly, Barbara Hulanicki (the creative mind behind Biba in the '60s) designed blousy tops, flared animal-print dresses, and shorts — all around $100 or under.
Rachel Comey for Urban Outfitters
Sigh. Rachel Comey, will you marry me? The current lineup of swingy printed dresses, silk tanks, and high-waisted trousers is exactly right, not to mention the vintage-feel laceup footwear and sandals. Good thing she also put together shoes for Urban Outfitters. The "Contributor" collection is three pieces — a lace-up oxford and two sandals (one heeled, one flat) — and these won't last. Trust me.
Shipley & Hamos for UNIQLO
Already in UNIQLO's Soho store since mid-April, this series threatens to get lost amid the other big-name collabs, which is a shame because it's one of the best. S&H's crisp, simple aesthetic lends itself really well to this type of endeavor, resulting in trim zippered tank dresses, jumpsuits, and graphic tanks.
Tracy Feith for Target
Feith has a great sense of contrast, which shows in the varied selection of pieces here, from floral dresses to sporty striped cardigans to cropped motorcycle jackets. And what's great about Target is that they keep their partnerships affordable, in the $50 to $150 range. (Spoiler alert for September: Anna Sui will be Target's next selection for their new designer collaboration series.)