Is the high street going high-end?

Tuesday, 05 November 2013
The British high street, once the destination for affordable fashion, is changing its ways. Or at least it is changing its range plans. No longer is everything solely cheap for the sake of fast fashion turnover. Retailers such as Zara, Topshop, H&M and Whistles are targeting a new customer, one that perhaps has a disposable income for special items and is not not just spending on disposable fashion.

Take Inditex' Zara chain, arguably the most recognised fashion store on the high street. While its offer of fashion lies predominantly in the affordable price range bracket, it is now testing if it can target a luxury customer by offering a few very special items and very expensive prices.

At Zara a merino coat costs 700 pounds

One such item is a luxurious reversible merino leather coat, which comes with a price tag of nearly 700 pounds. So too at H&M's upmarket brand Cos, a pair of leather trousers are being sold for 290 pounds.

At Whistles a 950 pound shearling coat is currently in its womenswear offer as is a sweater, made up of angora, and costing 350 pounds. H&M, too, is targeting customers with a bigger fashion budget. It's designer collaborations are typically more expensive than its own label product. Take next week's launch of the Isabel Marant range, which will have a much higher price point in comparison to its seasonal lines. A pair of leather trousers will cost 179 pounds, a cropped jacket for 200 pounds and fringed boots for 150 pounds. Hardly the prices of something that you will wear just a few times to end up in the back of your wardrobe. How the quality will be of this collection will remain to be seen.

The success of high street fashion chains has been to offer customers designer-inspired pieces at affordable prices. By introducing a more expensive product they are making them less attainable to the average customer, but perhaps there lies a new customer in its wake. After all, many consumers like to mix their wardrobes with a combination of high-end with high street. Now the high-end can be bought from the same low-end rails.

Image: Zara, H&M Isabel Marant

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