With H&M dresses selling for £400 and Topshop coats going for over £1,000, it seems the high street is no longer just the place for the latest designs at low prices. The trend towards the ‘premiumisation’ of the high street has been steadily rising in recent years, with designer collaborations (see the recent ‘Balmania’ at H&M, shown above) and premium offshoots (such as Topshop Boutique), reaching its zenith this Autumn/Winter season, with River Island Studios, Warehouse Premium and Jigsaw A-Line being just some examples of high street staples making their foray into the ‘accessible luxury’ market.

So what are the key reasons for this shift?

Mothers & Daughters: The ability of high street stores to translate trends into wearable pieces has attracted consumers of all ages, price brackets and levels of the fashion spectrum. High street stores have capitalised upon the breakdown of the traditional divisions between older and younger fashion-lovers, with more mature, affluent shoppers willing to pay a premium for high quality, considered designs

Blurred Lines: Innovative players such as ASOS and Selfridges have changed the rules of the game, where consumers become accustomed to shopping high and low (in Selfridges’ case, from Primark to Prada), all under one ‘roof’. High-end designers are also ‘trading down’ directly into high street stores, as seen through the growing number of high street collaborations, in which designers and high-street stores alike can satiate the masses’ demands for luxury and relish in the marketing buzz it creates amongst fashion-lovers who may, one day, invest in the real thing

Diffusion illusion: High street brands are moving into the space left by diffusion as high-end brands concentrate their efforts on their core luxury proposition. Those such as Michael by Michael Kors, DKNY, and Marc by Marc Jacobs have recently closed and subsequently stretched their mainline price points even further, giving high street brands a chance to capture the space left by these once ‘affordable luxury’ offerings

Furthermore, the UK has become renowned the world over for its innovative, affordable designs, with key players such as Topshop becoming increasingly confident with bolder designs, using high quality materials such as suede, leather and shearling, and prices to match.

What initially appeared as a few ‘hero products’ has increasingly become a wider part of high street stores’ range and pricing strategy, where high street stores are no longer just copying their designer counterparts, but forging their own paths. It appears this may be a trend which is here to stay.

Rosie Hartman