One thing I love about New Yorkers is their sense of style. Every day, I find myself with new items to add to my wishlist. In fact, I love mixing and matching items. But I never expected Mugler and H&M to mix and match.
On my way out of class, I saw a girl carrying a Mugler x H&M bag and I wondered how I hadn’t heard of the collection. Apparently, it had dropped that day, and almost every piece was sold out when I checked. It was pretty successful — probably because of the merging of high-end fashion and affordable pricing.
Mugler is a renowned high-end fashion brand founded by French designer Thierry Mugler in the 1970s. Mugler’s designs have always been celebrated for their avant-garde and daring aesthetic, often characterized by figure-hugging silhouettes, bold cuts, and a strong emphasis on accentuating the female form. The brand has become synonymous with high fashion, pushing boundaries and redefining traditional notions of style.
On the other hand, H&M, short for Hennes & Mauritz, is a global retail giant based in Sweden. H&M is known for its fast-fashion approach, offering trendy and affordable clothing for a wide audience. With an extensive network of stores worldwide, H&M has become a go-to brand for fashion enthusiasts seeking stylish and budget-friendly options.
The collaboration between Mugler and H&M was an intriguing juxtaposition, as the two brands seemed to occupy opposite ends of the fashion spectrum. Mugler, known for its luxury and exclusivity, and H&M, known for its mass-market appeal, came together in a surprising union. The collection showcased Mugler’s signature style, allowing fashion enthusiasts to get a taste of high fashion at a more affordable price point.
I think of Mugler and H&M as two brands lying on the opposite side of the spectrum. Looking at some of the pieces — mesh bodysuits, catsuits and sculptural minidresses — I can see how the collection resembles Mugler’s runway figure-hugging designs more closely than it does H&M. Does it take away from H&M’s touch? Not necessarily.
What is the purpose of fashion collaborations? Is it to rebrand, to prove versatility, to be introduced to new audiences, to take away and give back? This all depends on the context: the collection, the season, the brands and so on. However, one thing for sure is that pursuing a collaboration always proves a brand’s openness; its willingness to explore, discover, share and create. And openness always gets you far.
One person gave me some of the best advice out there: “You can’t be too stubborn. You have to be willing and open to take different routes that lead you to the same end goal.” For instance, even if all you want to do is design for adults, you have to be open to design for children first because that might be what gets you to design for an adult audience later. Collaborations are no longer looked at as a form of identity dilution but rather a form of democratization, as well as a path to new worlds full of aspirational audiences.
The best brand partnerships are a fantastic two-way street where everyone has something to gain. This might happen in a lot of different ways. While the Mugler x H&M merges different styles, the Aston Martin x James Bond franchise links two synonymous brands. Some collaborations make perfect sense, and some others choose to embrace differences. Sometimes, it’s good to choose what fits your brand so well that it feels like you found the missing piece. Other times, it’s good to deviate and try something completely new. Diving into the uncertain can be just as interesting as completing a puzzle.
From fashion style to career trajectory to group work, there is always room for open-mindedness and saying yes instead of a definitive no.