You + Me

When a designer collaborates with a retail giant, good things happen, right? Let’s find out together. It’s a fashion journey. It’s you and me.

Story by Caroline A. Wong, Photos by Breana Powell

Final Ihate Kohl’s. Now, I didn’t always hate Kohl’s. In fact, Kohl’s was pretty decent in my book, thanks to its lines with Vera Wang and Lauren Conrad. But after my experience with its Reed Krakoff designer collaboration, I want to pull my hair out, go hunt down the Kohl’s execs, and pull their hair out too.

I started off quite excited about the announcement that Reed Krakoff would be going the collaboration route. As the former executive creative director of Coach, Krakoff made his name in the business through his attention to detail and his structured styling. He started his eponymous brand in 2010, which boasted distinctive designs like the Boxer and Atlantique models until it shut down last year to revisit investment strategies. With his Kohl’s collaboration, Krakoff reintroduces those iconic styles with nearly identical fashioning, but in faux leather rather than real leather as with its four-figure predecessors.

While some might see it simply as brand suicide to reproduce luxury styles in cheap fabrics, it can also be interpreted as a firm statement by the designer that he will not be returning to the luxury market under his own name. But with the way that Kohl’s is handling his line, Krakoff may want to reconsider working with this particular retail giant for future iterations of his collection, no matter the discount pricing.

caroline1Kohl’s made the REED by Reed Krakoff collection available online a week before it would be available in stores. I purchased a selection and received the shipment shortly afterward, before the collection was set to launch in Kohl’s stores. Kohl’s clothing generally runs large, which I found to be true of REED items. The disappointment, however, came with the pink Boxer style bag. Now, the Boxer bag was my one true love, the one that got away, the bag that still haunts my dreams after its discontinuation. So when I was able to buy the Kohl’s iteration of the style, I thought I would finally get the fashion closure for which I had been longing. Wrong. There was a noticeable black streak on the front of the bag.