Designers at Debenhams: Haute on the high street

Designers at Debenhams is celebrating 21 years of successful  collaborations with  a special edition  collection, writes Emma Akbareian

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The Independent Online

On today’s high street, where new designer collaborations seem to crop up every week, it’s hard to imagine a time when they didn’t exist. Rewind 21 years though, and luxury labels were accessible only to those who had serious purchasing power. That was until Debenhams department stores stepped in with pioneering collaborations to bring designer fashion to the masses.

As well as democratising fashion for its customers, Debenhams provided a measure of financial stability as well as opening up a whole new market for the smaller brands.

Pivotal to the continued success of the project has been the long-term partnerships it fosters; rather than the blink and you’ll miss them, one-hit wonders that are popular at stores such as H&M, Debenhams has cultivated long-term relationships. Its designer roster numbers 20, with some of the earliest recruits including Jasper Conran, John Rocha and Matthew Williamson still to be found in store today.

 

This year Debenhams is celebrating the 21st anniversary of these collections with a limited edition range of products curated by its designers. The pieces on offer include embroidered jeans by Henry Holland, a metallic evening gown by Julien Macdonald and a top hat by Stephen Jones.

But longevity doesn’t have to mean things have gone stale – in recent years the collections were given a new lease of life thanks to the recruitment of an impressive batch of some of London Fashion Week’s hottest names. Jonathan Saunders, Roksanda Ilinicic, Marios Schwab and Preen have been welcomed into the fold where they are celebrated under the cooler Edition range. And with Fashion Week in London starting later this week, Debenhams will sure to be on the lookout for the next new recruit.

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