Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The 5th Floor

I apologize for the terrible quality of this image.

The Fifth Floor, of 5F as Bergdorf calls it, has been designated by department stores as the "contemporary" or lower-priced designer collections (an average dress runs from $350-$500, versus an average high-priced designer dress, from $1,500 to $3,000). For the last week, I have received relentless mailings from Barneys, Saks, and Bergdorf's, all parading the same basic goods from the same basic contemporary designers: 3.1 Philip Lim, Theory, Marc by Marc Jacobs, See by Chloe, etc. The appeal is obvious: one obtains relatively affordable designer clothes with the hot designer names, and celebrities have found themselves vacillating between the high high end and the medium high end in fashion to diversify their wardrobe. But beyond the brand name recognition, what does one really get?

While some contemporary designers offer true quality for the price--Philip Lim, Tracy Reese, and Rebecca Taylor come to mind--others offer nothing more than high-end basics that regurgitate trends at a remarkable speed and with zero creativity. Take, for example, the following two photos: the one on the left is a look from Dries Van Noten's Spring 2008 line, and the one on the right is a copycat look from See by Chloe, available at Saks for $445.


Other designers, like Theory, Vince, Splendid, and Juicy offer little more than Banana Republic, Zara, H&M, and Ann Taylor in both style and quality. I find myself increasingly bored with the poor merchandise on these expensive racks, and wonder why fashion fatigue has hit these 5th floor designers. The key to weathering the storm of ennui is to be patient and know that the placement of a designer on a particular floor does not justify the price tag; the design and craftsmanship are what does. I have been dazzled by both an inexpensive dress and an expensive one, and one needs to be critical of each and every possible piece with the exaction of a martinet.

1 comment:

miss cavendish said...

I've ordered both Vince and Theory from Bergdorfs, only to be appalled by the quality for the price. That's such a hazard with online or catalogue shopping: being disappointed with a store (BG) you trust will have the goods.