The Wall Street Journal has noticed that, more and more, designers are inking deals to do diffusion lines with places like Target and H&M. But, the ever-inquisitive Journal — now devoid of a fashion department — wonders, can fashion experts tell a Thakoon Target piece from a regular Thakoon piece you might purchase at Barneys? To answer this seemingly obvious question, the paper concocted an experiment — they purchased a $1,145 Thakoon dress and mixed it in with the Thakoon Target stuff, which ranges in price from about $20 to $70, and asked experts to pick out the expensive item (all identifying labels and tags were concealed).
The aim of the Journal’s experiment was to see if experts could tell the difference in quality between what Target and Barneys sell. It seems like a pointless exercise to us, because we stare at the Internet all day and can’t help but memorize which pieces comprise these diffusion lines. Thankfully the Journal’s experts — Simon Collins, dean of fashion at Parsons the New School for Design, and Randi Rahm, a designer based in Manhattan — don’t spend 90 percent of their waking hours with their noses glued to a fashion RSS feed, and don’t have the lines memorized. Rahm ultimately was able to correctly pick the Barneys Thakoon piece out of the lineup. Collins, however, was not. He thought the Target Thakoon trench was the expensive item in the lineup. “[I]t’s clear that high quality can be had in the mass market,” he said, noting that the Target stuff wouldn’t last as long as the Barneys stuff. We’re surprised that he goofed. He’s the dean of Parsons, after all.