A Vera Wang dress for under $200?! It is possible. Leading fashion moguls are creating their own fashion lines sold at much lower price tags.

It’s not only high-end designers like Roberto Cavalli and Wang, but stars such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Amanda Bynes and Kate Moss also have pursued their love of fashion by putting on the designer’s hat and trying their hand at providing runway clothing available at prices that most people can afford. These pioneers have teamed up with huge department stores worldwide to provide their clothing to the masses. With the current trend of popular stores such as Forever 21 selling copy-cat images and knockoffs of their runway clothing, high-fashion designers have retaliated.

Wang, known for her sophisticated wedding dresses, has started a “Simply Vera” line, which is sold at Kohl’s. Apparel, accessories, eyeglasses and even home furnishings are available at a $20 to $200 price range, according to Thebudgetfashionista.com. The look is classic Wang, urban chic yet simply feminine, all created under a dark palette of grays and gem-like violets for winter.

Italian designer Cavalli will release his line of affordable clothing in the well known retail store H&M. Following in the footsteps of such stars as Madonna, Kylie Minogue and designer Stella McCartney, Cavalli brings his exotic touch to 20 men’s and 25 women’s pieces set to be released on Nov. 8, according to the official H&M Web site. The line, which mimics his signature style, ranges from bold underwear pieces to breezy animal-print dresses.

Top model Moss has widened her fashion spectrum and has designed her own line for the British store Top Shop. The line is described as, “mixing rock’n’roll chic with bohemian charm,” on its official Web site (katemosstopshop.com). Moss describes her line on the Web site as an “eclectic capsule collection of effortlessly cool, signature pieces” inspired by her very own wardrobe. The line ranges from sheer party dresses to funky tops to classic overcoats and accessories to top it all off. Prices range from $7 to $300. Discounts slash the pricier and classic pieces – such as a leather cropped jacket – into something just about everyone can afford.

Actresses also have joined in on the “fashion for less” crusade. “Sex in the City” star Parker has revolutionized the fashion industry by starting her own line, “Bitten,” which sells everything for $19.98 or less in Steve and Barry’s stores nationwide.

“We’re so ingrained to think that we can’t get quality and have it be affordable. It was a completely new way of thinking,” said Parker in a documentary on “Bitten,”which can be viewed on the Web site. “I loved this philosophy. I loved the idea of quality affordable clothing, for everybody.”

“It is every woman’s inalienable right to have a pulled-together stylish, confident wardrobe with money left over to live. GET BITTEN,” as stated on the line’s manifesto on the Web site.

The “Bitten” line includes nearly 1,000 pieces, including wool and cashmere sweaters, woven and knitted tops, suits, dresses, swim wear, lingerie, and accessories, according to the official website, bittensjp.com. Parker herself models in the line’s advertisements, wearing shirts with the slogan, “Fashion Is Not A Luxury,” emblazoned across the front.

“It’s stuff that I will wear,” said Parker in the documentary.

Teen icon Bynes created her own line, “Dear,” which is also sold at Steve and Barry’s. Targeting her audience at “a younger woman who wants to be stylish on a budget,” all items are $19.98 or less, according to the line’s official Web site (dearbyamanda.com). The clothes include casual, teen pieces, from hoodies to tanktops to jean skirts and beaded necklaces.

“I like the idea that designers are making cheaper lines,” said junior Kelli Chapleski. “Charging thousands of dollars for an item of clothing is ridiculous to begin with and the fact that fashion lovers can find pieces by their favorite designers for affordable prices will not only broaden the fashion world but could significantly increase profit for designers.”

Junior Beth Amodeo tends to agree.

“Personally, I think clothing is overpriced as it is,” Amodeo said. “Why should any of us have to pay $50 to $300 for a strip of cloth that isn’t even thick enough to clean my sink as good as a towel?”

Amodeo does think that some good can come out of these cheaper lines. She believes that customers, as well as high-end fashion designers will eventually profit.

“If fashion designers are making their clothing cheaper to compete with the knockoff companies, then I guess I say all the more power to them,” Amodeo said. “In the end, we are the ones they are competing for, and more competition equals lower prices, which is not only better but more reasonable for us.”

Published in the October 31, 2007 issue of The Metro

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