Blog: Leonie BarrieToo cheap to be chic?

Leonie Barrie | 11 September 2006

As if proof were needed that Wal-Mart is serious about taking its clothing ranges into new and trendier markets, how’s this for size? The world’s largest retailer, and a discount one at that, has opened this season’s New York Fall Fashion Week with a catwalk show on top of the Times Square Studios. No celebrity front row, no supermodels, very little fanfare, and probably no egos.

Last year, UK store Topshop became the first high street retailer to stage a catwalk show alongside the designer names, to an avalanche of publicity. And while there was some talk of a kind of sartorial dumbing-down, there is also recognition (or should that be resignation) that retailers like Topshop – and Wal-Mart with its George ME collection from Mark Eisen, an award-winning designer who also produces cashmere garments under the brand name Karoo – have helped finance designers’ more outlandish lines as well as breaking down barriers of label snobbery.

But is this the shape of fashion to come? Not just for the chosen few but broadcast to anyone who just happened to be passing and – somewhat radically for fashion – showing looks that are available now?


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