Fendi x Skims: No.
You do not have to blindly enthuse over this collaboration.
If you’ve come within a football field’s distance of a fashion news site in the past month you’ve certainly gotten a whiff of the idea that Kim Kardashian’s Skims shapewear line may have a collaboration with Fendi. Today, the line was confirmed and covered even more breathlessly than its possibility.
But if you are looking at these clothes with the same “I’m on the cover of a business magazine” expressions as Fendi designer Kim Jones and Kardashian herself on the new WSJ., I am here to assure you that you are not alone. I hereby give you permission to read about and behold this line and feel as little as you’ve felt all along. In fact, I give you permission to feel even less.
Press speculation over this partnership was frothed up by fashion writers and editors who have a hard time getting a high click volume on fashion stories, but had a shot at doing that with Kim Kardashian’s name in the headline. For Fendi, becoming a Kardashian barnacle was a way to get lots of people talking about the brand. For Kardashian, “collaborating” with Fendi (the entertaining WSJ. story makes it sound like she was able to just tell them exactly what to do), reinforces her unique ability to have one foot in reality television stardom and another in high fashion legitimacy. That she has been able to enjoy both in tandem ought to be perplexing, perhaps commendable. This is an industry where the Halston brand was infamously more or less annihilated by its partnership with JCPenney in the 1980s; in a case study of how hard it is to be perceived as both mass and high-end, Bergdorf Goodman then dropped the line. But now in 2021, Kim Kardashian can sell us $32 “sculpting bralettes” by day and attend the Met Gala in custom Balenciaga to great fanfare by night.
The Kardashians have a stranglehold on the fashion and tabloid press, which has been breathlessly covering this collaboration. Here’s WWD:
Rumors of a potential Fendi and Skims collaboration surfaced online earlier this year when Kardashian West visited the company’s headquarters at the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana in Rome, leaving fans and tabloids speculating about a potential tie-in.
They were further reinforced in mid-October after Instagram account @connie_personal_shopping, a personal shopper based in the U.K., posted a range of pictures from the collection to her Stories, which were then removed.
“Rumors of a potential Fendi and Skims collaboration” implies a near-rabid hunger somewhere in the universe for this line. That near-rabid hunger does exist for plenty of other fashion stuff. See: the feverish excitement for H&M’s Comme des Garçons collaboration; the line at Topshop’s first U.S. store when it opened in Soho; the online shrines to Old Céline; Marc Jacob’s Louis Vuitton collaboration with Takashi Murakami.
Yet here is the Fendi x Skims line:
Even some of the business’s most brilliant creatives — Steven Meisel photographing, Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele styling, Precious Lee modeling — couldn’t deliver on the the brouhaha with this reveal. This is, to be clear, not their fault given the collection is nothing but a logo plastered across tight stuff in different colors, existing at the center of a Venn diagram of eveningwear, athliesure, and underwear. It is what Gawker dubbed the charisma drought in clothing form.
If Fendi was dying to shrug off its legacy as a furrier for the activist generation, nothing about this line or campaign says “major legacy fur house,” so consider that box checked. (To be clear, Fendi’s website does say exactly that: “In FENDI, fur is the most precious material, manually worked and fashioned by skilled and experienced artisans.”) What this line says is: “Clickbait and genuinely exciting fashion are two very different things.”
Here’s a summation of Skims x Fendi, from WSJ.:
It is a complete ready-to-wear collection, including form-fitting tops and dresses starting at $950, $1,100 leggings and a $2,950 puffer jacket, as well as Fendi x Skims–logo-printed underwear, shapewear and hosiery. There is a range of swimsuits, from a barely-there bikini to sporty one-pieces and surf tops, all in a mash-up print of the labels’ logos. A $4,200 leather dress with wraps crisscrossing the bosom comes in eight muted shades, from beige to earthy brown.
Whereas H&M gave us CDG at prices we could stomach, Fendi is giving us Skims at prices almost no one can afford. Making creative high fashion temporarily more affordable is delicious; making regular clothing temporarily more than ten times as expensive is an empty gesture at high fashion and the brilliant creative minds that could make it great but instead have to take their place in the photo op behind Kim Kardashian.
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