New York Fashion week saw the seasoned presence of Heidi Klum – but not in her conventional role of stalking the runway or sitting on the judging panel. This time the Project Runway and America’s Got Talent star showed off her own sartorial talent with her highly anticipated collaboration with German discount groceries chain Lidl.
As a supermodel, host, and businesswoman, Heidi Klum is used to multitasking in her 19-year career, and she is now adding fully fledged designer to her repertoire. Although strictly still an underwear designer, with her self-titled Heidi Klum Intimates, her Lidl collection is Klum’s premier entire fashion line and it marks the brands first fashion collaboration.
Speaking about the merger of two successful German exports, Liam Casey commercial director for Lidl Ireland said. “Working alongside Heidi Klum, a highly successful and creative designer, we are bringing affordable fashion to the forefront. It’s all about surprising our customers with a trend-led fashion collection at highly competitive prices.”
What do you need to know about the Heidi Klum collection for Lidl? It’s a purse-friendly collection made from decent-enough fabrics. The pieces are basic but playful, with a dusting of designer at bargain-basement prices. Don’t expect silk or cashmeres – but you can expect real leather, as the most covetable piece, as Klum agrees, is the real suede jacket at €59.99 which comes in black and tan.
Be mindful of sizes, with them running a little smaller than usual, so if in doubt go up a size. It’s more fashion-focused than Lidl’s usual Esmara collection and wouldn’t look out of place on the rails of H&M or Penneys.
Other wish-list items from the collection are the petrol blue bomber, perfect for throwing over jeans and actually looks pretty spendy, while the suede cross-body bag with gold hardware looks more luxe than its €22.99 price tag.
Cleverly for Klum, teaming up with an international retailer such as Lidl means she can bring her style perspective to the masses and that’s exactly what attracted her to joining forces with the retailer. “What is so amazing about this collaboration is I can reach so many women, I feel that I can make so many woman happy,” she told The Irish Times in New York.
Creating a line at a lower price level was evidently at the forefront of Lidl and Klum’s ethos, but with volume, naturally a reduced price point is developed, admits Klum. “There are so many designers already that are in the high-end market but only four or five per cent of women in the world that can afford it and a lot of these brands only exist because of their sunglasses, their perfume or their bags. Not a lot of people can buy a head-to-toe from on the biggest designers – it’s impossible. But you can buy head-to-toe from my range for under €70, I can only do it because we are going into over 10,000 stores – can you tell me anyone else who is in 10,000 stores?”
Determined to make a mark at fashion week, she presented the range, entitled “Esmara by Heidi Klum”, with a colourful, tongue-in-cheek supermarket-themed party.
“I’m proud to have a range in the supermarket; I wanted to put it in everyones faces that we are in a supermarket – so I thought it would be fantastic to show us all having fun in a supermarket space.” For the occasion, a lofty-warehouse space was transformed into a fashion bazaar and decorated with giant shelves of diary produce and detergent.
While waiters handed out “Heidi dollars”, complete with the supermodel’s face printed on them, guests could exchange them for a goodie bags with a selection of the collection inside.
“I can’t even tell you how proud I was to show at New York Fashion Week for the very first time, and a lot of people were like – You are showing at New York Fashion Week with your supermarket line? And I was like, You should check it out; you might be surprised.”
Adding in the element of marvel and theatre was evident, even through the execution of the fashion event. During the two-hour presentation, instead of just walking a runway in typical model fashion, Lidl models pursued and posed in the aisles, and took to the giant checkout conveyor-belt catwalk showcasing key looks from the 84-piece collection.
Multitasking again, Klum admits that she moulded into many roles in creating the range. “I also think that I’m a stylist as well as designer, because of all the looks I created. At the presentation, you can see how I styled the girls in many different ways, exchanging all the different pieces so you can see how many different looks you can create.”
Aiming to provide women with a capsule collection, of sorts, among the looks that will be available are a tailored blazer, skinny jeans, lace black dress and ankle boots, sitting alongside more statement pieces, such as leopard-print suit, sequin bomber and pops of cobalt blues.
“With my first collection I tried to make basic pieces that are more fun than just basic. For me, it was about finding those staples and it started with New York – the urban jungle; that’s why I included leopard. Then I was thinking: I’m going on vacation to Paris, what do I need to bring. We all think that when we go traveling – I need a pair of jeans, a blazer, a top, a little black dress – and then I just amped it up for a little for the ones that wanted it.”
But with any designer creating and conniving a collection comes anticipation and doubt, especially when it’s your first collection.
“I have no idea how women will react to the line, because I don’t know who my woman is yet. I hope it is every woman. I would love as much feedback as possible from women if they love the line – what they like, what they don’t like and be better next time. This is what I envisioned for women for the first range to make their life easier, more wow.”
And it’s that convenience and ease that seems to be at the core of the collection for Klum. “Everything about this collection is supposed to be easy because women are already very, very busy. They go to the supermarket – they get their groceries and at the same time they can pick up a blazer for €25.”
Ranging in sizes 8 to 18, and trying to encompass that everywoman, there were certain challenges Klum admits she had to bear in mind when creating a line that was is meant to inclusive.
“I’m talking to so many women out there it would be hard for everyone to wear such fashion-forward pieces. But in terms of cuts, I don’t have anything really unusual, so I tried to go easier on the silhouettes, the fabric and the print.”
Klum admits to injecting so much of her design DNA but when it came to height of heels, she says she had to walk the line.
“When we were designing the heels, I was like, guys we can’t deal with this little heel, it’s impossible, for me it’s like a flip-flop.” she laughs. “But I had to step back a little bit – for the woman who is not used to wear these kind of shoes, I can’t expect anyone to hobble around in shoes that are uncomfortable.”
Injecting a little bit of luxe and keeping the quality in a budget range was paramount for Klum and she says she will continue to push for great fabrics. “The leather jacket is a star to me. It’s also expensive, next to everything else, but there will always be those highlights in the collection.”
Speaking about her star piece, she reveals that it originally started out a little less high-quality. “At the beginning, Lidl were like maybe you can make a faux leather jacket and I was like, how much would it really be if you were to price it out as leather. It came back as €59.99 and I was like, we have to go real on this. I’m going to keep urging Lidl for great fabrics in a way that everyone can enjoy too.”
And it’s not going to be a one-hit wonder collection either, with reports circulating that the German supermodel signed up for a multiple seasons. Klum did, though, delve into the next instalment, which is scheduled to hit stores on December 4th.
“The theme will be all about the holidays and I thought about what we are all doing during that time – baking, wrapping presents, we have Christmas parties, you might have a date. This line will be all about these festivities.”
With the rise in popularity of low-priced fashion retailers and the change in shopping habits, Lidl’s move to establish itself in the style sphere underlines a continuation of fashion becoming more accessible and democratised.
“Fashion should be for everyone, fashion should not just be for people who can afford it, everyone deserves to be part of it.” says Klum.
Lidl, of course, is not the first supermarket chain to provide cut-price clothing along with your food shopping. In the last couple of years select supermarket brands have really upped their design credentials. In Ireland and the UK, F&F at Tesco, George at Asda and Sainsbury's TU offer stylish ranges that can be bagged along with your bread.
With its current push in the US to open 100 stores by summer 2018, Lidl is making forays into the sartorial space alongside Wal-Mart and Target, which sell clothing and frequently feature celebrity fashion collaborations – most notably the Victoria Beckham for Target collection, which launched in spring of this year. With two successful German exports, Lidl and Klum, collaborating and launching at New York Fashion Week, it’s a clever move for the retailer in raising its profile in a crowded US grocery market while also underpinning its value position of quality products at low prices – even fashion.
Ranging from €5.99 to €59.99, the new collection will be available for preview – not purchase – in a Grafton Street pop-up store from September 14th until September 17th. The full 18-piece collection launches in all 153 stores across Ireland on September 18th for a limited period while stocks last. Internationally, the collection will be available in a total of 28 countries in over 10,000 Lidl stores.