The rise of designer collaborations is one of the best things to happen to your small yet stylish budget in recent years.
These partnerships are sometimes called high-low collaborations, meaning that a high-fashion designer will create a collection for an affordable chain store such as H-and-M.
Here are some high-low collaborations to watch out for and some tips for smart shopping. The best part about the four collections below? You'll rarely see a single item for more than $100.
Derek Lam for Kohl's DesigNation
If you have a working knowledge of the style industry, you're probably familiar with Derek Lam. And if you read celebrity gossip magazines, you may or may not know that there are already starlets running around in Derek Lam's collection for Kohl's that doesn't hit stores until April. According to Lam, the pieces were inspired by a trip to Rio de Janeiro, and there are several looks that are great for wearing to work -- try the sheath dress with a classic heel in almost any office. The collection is filled with neutrals and splashes of bright green and blue.
Duro Olowu for JC Penney
Though he's not as big a name, Nigerian-born, London-based designer Duro Olowu definitely has a following. One thing I love about his current collection for JC Penney is that it mimics his high-end collection pretty closely, with similar shapes and prints. Nothing in the collection costs more than $75, which is great news, especially considering I have my eye on a metallic trench coat.
Prabal Gurung for Target
This collection has been out for a while, and appears to be selling like hotcakes. And with good reason -- it incorporates tons of spring's hottest trends, such as black and white and neon. Prabal has long been a front-runner in the fashion industry and these pieces offer some of that eye on the trends.
Milly for Banana Republic
Milly is all about bright hues and bold prints with a slightly preppy feel, and the industry buzz is that this collection will be along those same lines, making it perfect for Banana Republic. It doesn't drop until May, but there will be pieces for men and women along with jewelry and accessories.
Shopping strategies for choosing the right pieces
1. Seek out a trend you want to try. Pick the most outrageous thing you've seen in a magazine and thought "I LOVE that!" Depending on who you are, it could be floral pants or a bright neon tunic. If it's a hot trend, a designer collaboration will likely be a great way to find it at an affordable price.
2. Always, always try things on. In general, the cheaper the clothes, the less consistent the sizing will be. Also, keep in mind that these designers usually dress models. No offense, but that's probably not you. That doesn't mean you won't find things that look good on you -- it just means you need to do damage control by trying them on.
3. Shop early. The best of these collections sell out fast, so for the best pick of merchandise, get in there right when they launch.
4. Don't give up hope on items you love. For things that sell out extra fast, they may still be available in stores, even if you can't find them online.
5. Check for quality. There is a difference between a high-end item and a more affordable collaboration item, and the same can be true of different labels from the same designer that you would find in a department store. It is possible to make quality garments from less expensive fabrics, and many of these designers do it well, but you should always quality check.
6. Don't buy it just because it has a certain name on it. Remember the Missoni for Target items that were going for hundreds of dollars because they were in such high demand? I thought most of those pieces were kind of ugly, so I didn't buy any. Apply the same standards as you would for any shopping trip.
(E-mail Kristyn Schiavone at Kristyn@simplestyleguide.com, follow her on Twitter at @KKSchiavone or write to her c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave, Ste. 1400, Chicago, IL 60611.)