Add to Your Fashion Vocab: What Is “Masstige”?

Masstige is a mash-up between the words “mass” and “prestige.” The term has been used since the early 2000s to refer to the phenomenon of high-end designers collaborating with mass market retailers.

One of the earlier team-ups was between Karl Lagerfeld and H&M in 2004. The collaboration didn’t go well, though, when the retailer frustrated the designer by producing small runs of his designs and carrying them in only a few European stores. However, this less-than-perfect partnership did not prevent the likes of Stella McCartney, Roberto Cavalli, Marni, Balmain and more from signing on with H&M later.

“I find it embarrassing that H&M let down so many people … I don’t think that is very kind …,” Lagerfeld was quoted as saying to the press. (Source: Vogue Daily, Nov. 18, 2004)
The 2011 pairing between Target and Missoni famously crashed the retailer’s website almost immediately after the products went live. Some brick and mortar locations sold out of all Missoni items in minutes.

Why do it? Brands with a more luxury following sometimes agree to a partnership with a lower-end chain in order to keep visibility of their brand high. It also allows them to extend their reach into a more youthful and budget-conscious market, which will one day have higher earning power.

In 2014 Joseph Altuzarra created a collection just for Target customers. Prices on the Altuzarra pieces, which included his signature thigh-high slits, ranged between $18 and $90.

A run at masstige can be dangerous, however, as a designer associated with luxury may confuse or even alienate their more affluent and avid followers. This humorous video sums up the issue well.

Still masstige collaborations show no signs of slowing down. The recent link-up between H&M and Erdem, received tremendous press. More about this highly hyped collaboration here.

Said designer Erdem Moralioglu just before the launch of this year’s collection for H&M: “It was about creating the opposite of fast fashion; it was about creating these pieces that you … desire because they are beautiful.” (Source: Vogue.co.uk, Nov. 1, 2017)