Some Marriages Work

Photo: From left: Courtesy of The Gap; Courtesy of Target; Davies + Starr

The coupling of a high-fashion style icon and a mass retail chain can be marvelously beneficial for both. It lets the former look democratic and increase the fan base, while the latter gets some good-taste cred. Of course, sometimes a project goes thud (Madonna’s line for H&M last year). Other times there’s an overpromise-underdeliver issue (Karl Lagerfeld’s H&M designs were based on his own less well-known line, not his Chanel work). Still, the best high-low fashion collaborations—like Proenza Schouler’s spring 2007 line for Target and Viktor & Rolf’s fall 2006 work for H&M—really do deliver a designer’s vision to a yearning, hungry audience. How does the current batch of big-box collaborations rate? Here, three of spring’s hottest hookups.

Launched April 15

680 Fifth Ave., at 54th St.; 212-977-7023
Good: The crisp white shirts ($58 to $98) by 3.1 Phillip Lim, Band of Outsiders, Michael Bastian, and Threeasfour are practical, with interesting details like oversize bows, cowboy patches on the shoulders, and neckties.
Not So Much: Launching a project with so many names is confusing. The uniformly boxy cut makes the shirts feel less special.
Verdict: While it’s brilliant to revamp an article everyone needs, the flip side is that you can never buy one because they sell out so quickly.

Launching May 18

139 Flatbush Ave., at Atlantic Ave., Ft. Greene; 718-290-1109
Good: Rogan stays true to the brand; they’re still for the hipster who isn’t trying to look like one. Linen striped vests ($27), plaid minidresses ($45), and wide-leg jeans ($40) could hang in Rogan’s Tribeca store.
Not So Much: The beachwear. Leopard- and zebra-print swimsuits ($30) and giraffe-print shift dresses ($40) are jarring.
Verdict: Thumbs up. Target again signals that it appreciates style by choosing a smart young name and letting it get creative.

Launching May 30

546 Broadway, nr. Spring St.; 917-237-8800
Good: The muted gray, black, and white collection of mainly dresses ($29 to $50) is simple and clean, and perfectly depicts Wang’s effortless style and Uniqlo’s minimalist vision.
Not So Much: If you’re looking for Wang’s downtown grunge look—ripped baggy shorts, an oversize blazer, and spectators—you’ll probably be disappointed.
Verdict: Commercial enough for the masses, but still a little bland. Creative styling can make them hip enough to wear below 14th Street.

Some Marriages Work