Clothing Design Trends: High Fashion for the Lowest Common Denominator

by Sarah Clark
Fashion School Review Columnist

December 11, 2006

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What's one of the latest and most pronounced trends in clothing design? Upscale designers with respected, established careers in fashion are creating clothes for the masses. All the big low-cost retailers are doing it, including Target and Wal-Mart.

Target may have been the first to set this trend. They started expressing an interest in design several years ago, when they began to feature design-conscious housewares crafted by interior designer and architect Michael Graves.

Careers in Fashion that Cast a Wide Net
Then Target got into trendier clothing designs, with designers like Isaac Mizrahi designing everything from blazers and skirts to sheets and duvet covers.

In the spring of 2006, Wal-Mart made its first foray into more stylish clothing. They launched their George ME line by sportswear clothing designer Mark Eisen, which boasts classically-styled clothing with a modern spin. The company says it has a long-term plan to hang even more fashionable clothes on their racks. The retail giant has launched a New York office to track fashion trends more closely.

K-Mart has also participated in this seemingly nation-wide effort to cater to consumers' growing appetite for more stylishly-designed goods. They have featured Martha Stewart brand housewares and decorative accessories for several years. For the 2006 holiday season, they sold an assortment of holiday-themed bling to adorn Christmas trees. Martha Stewart even decorated one of Target's in-store Christmas trees.

Fashion School and Designing for Mass Markets
What does all this mean for the fashion school design student? Wherever the public takes its appreciation for good design, aspiring designers will follow. High style is no longer the exclusive domain of a select few designers who design for an elite, wealthy group of consumers. And besides, what clothing designer with a career in fashion wouldn't rather design a more sophisticated look than a boxy, oversized t-shirt?

Make sure the fashion school you check into offers courses on designing for large-scale markets. Regardless of the type of career in fashion you pursue, you'll very likely be asked at some point in your career to design something for the mass market, even if it's just a handbag or silk scarf.


About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer specializing in career development and postsecondary education.

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