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Kardashian Kollection Has Nothing on French Connection

4 Oct

There are so many celebrity clothing lines out now, including the much-publicized Sofia Vergara collection for Kmart and Jennifer Lopez’s for Kohl’s. Wow, have discount department stores come a long way from Jaclyn Smith (which is still going strong at Kmart). While I haven’t seen the Vergara or Lopez lines in person, they look OK. Some fun pieces; the dresses and jackets seem to be the best. The materials in the Vergara line are lower-quality than those in Lopez’s (like if you wear a dress with a bag, the side you wear your bag on starts to pill or wear easily–cotton knits, cotton blends, acrylics). But the price reflects that, and rightly so. However, J.Lo’s line is way overpriced; by better materials, I don’t mean silk and cashmere. Who is willing to buy pleather shoes for more than $100? If you’ve read previous posts, you know it’s not me–well, maybe if they were from an actual designer.

One celebrity collection I think didn’t get much ink is the line from the Kardashians for Kmart’s larger sibling, Sears, which launched August 25. My theory is that Kim Kardashian’s engagement and wedding to Kris Humphries overshadowed publicity for it. So I figured I’d check it out because I saw some items online that looked great. And they do look great, with many well-fitted dresses and jackets. But I also have a few problems with the line, the first being that it, like J.Lo’s, is overpriced. The other is that none of the dresses (which can be very flattering, especially for curvy women) aren’t lined–you need to wear a Spanx slip or nothing at all under them to prevent unseemly undergarment lines. My last complaint is very specific: There’s a cute romper (above, right) with a sheer back, but cut way too low in the front that you’d either need to wear a camisole under it (which takes some of the sexy out of it) or double-sided tape. However, I especially like this ribbed shift with a mesh plunge cutout in front (left), which was originally priced at $99, but is now $68.99. In fact, everything is 30% off, but much of the collection is still more than $50. Many pieces have great details like grosgrain ribbon or interesting cutouts. I liked two of the shoes, especially the faux-suede Washington wedge (below, right) and
Atlanta heels (below, far right), both reduced from $51.99 to $41.99 (less
than what they cost online).

After looking through that collection, I discovered around the corner that Sears carries French Connection (rather, a version for Sears called UK Style by French Connection). I remember as a teenager it was a very popular–and expensive–brand, with a store on West Broadway we could only browse through at the time. Apparently, according to Sears, it launched earlier this year. So I got a little excited, and even more so when I saw the pieces and prices. To see a strong contemporary brand with more than 1,500 outlets around the world, according to the retailer, in Sears was unbelievable!

The whole collection–even the newest items, which included wide-leg pantsuits, tweed blazers and secretary blouses–was already reduced by either 30% or 50%. And then there was the clearance rack with items ranging from $4.99 for a floral-print tie-waist blouse (left) that was originally $26.90 to a metallic woven bolero (below, right) for $7.99 that was originally $59.90.



That is just a sampling. See some more in the slideshow below.

So, for those of us who can’t get to
the Gilt warehouse sale Saturday (which is already sold out it seems) to get some real designer duds because of Yom Kippur, there are other options, like the UK Style by French Connection line. Plus, there’s even more
to look forward to in the discount store–designer collaboration department.
And two of the chains that I think do it the best are Target (minus the Missoni fiasco) and H&M (I also happen to like the Simply Vera Vera Wang line for Kohl’s, much of which happens to be on sale now). And Target confirmed Monday that Jason Wu (remember Michelle Obama’s white inauguration ball gown?) will be the next designer to collaborate with Target. That line will launch February 5, 2012. And of course the Versace collection for H&M is coming November 19 to select stores. More on the Versace and Jason Wu lines to come, when more details are available.

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