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Light on cash? Get designer duds at low prices

The state of the global economy has made affordable and alternative outlets for clothing designers necessary. TODAY style editor Bobbie Thomas explores the ever-growing list of collaborations between high-end producers and mass-market stores.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

When it comes to the future of fashion, the runways are marching into mass retailers. With more designers and mainstream stores seeking to partner, collaborations are the hottest trend. Bobbie Thomas, TODAY style editor and author of the Buzz column for In Touch Weekly, highlights some of spring and summer's most exciting matchups!

Topshop’s boutiqueBritain-based Topshop has earned its reputation as a partnership pioneer for good reason. For more than a decade, it’s launched an impressive list of designer duos, not to mention its uber-successful alliance with supermodel and style icon Kate Moss (a move that has caused frenzy among fashionistas).

The mega-retailer continues to break new ground. Topshop opened its first U.S. store in New York, and expanded its Web site to serve the American market. At the moment, their “boutique” features Jonathan Saunders, Preen and Richard Nicoll.

Topshop isn’t likely to shy away from championing a new generation of talent. “We would love to collaborate and support a couple of new American designers,” explains owner Sir Philip Green.

Matthew Williamson for H&MKnown for his signature use of bright colors and vibrant prints, designer Matthew Williamson will be making a splash this spring and summer at H&M. “I am thrilled that my creations for H&M will be accessible to and hopefully enjoyed by so many people around the world,” says Williamson.

An exclusive first shipment of women’s fashion is set to hit select stores on April 23, with a larger delivery — including his first foray into menswear — scheduled to arrive at remaining retail locations in May. ($25-$350,

Adam Lippes for MangoMango made headlines with MNG, a line designed by style icon Penelope Cruz and her sister, Monica. If one job wasn’t enough, the Oscar-winning actress and her equally gorgeous sibling stepped up to the plate and modeled for their campaign. Now the Spanish chain is adding another talented and eye-catching contemporary designer. Like the Cruz clan, Adam Lippes has the looks to model his own designs.

Launched on March 1, the Adam for Mango capsule collection includes 12 looks for women and another dozen for men (including accessories). The easy, breezy spring line features a color palette centered on gray and bone, along with crisp accents of white, magenta and black. ($49-$259;

Charlotte Ronson for JCPenneyIn an effort to establish a more fashion-forward feel, JCPenney teamed up with designer Charlotte Ronson to produce I HEART Ronson, a cute collaboration aimed at 21- to 35-year-old women. Loved for her quirky, girly fashions, Ronson is lending her young, hip aesthetic to the affordably priced department store with pieces ranging from floral skirts and frilly dresses to sporty cardigans and a slew of denim. Available in-store and online now, the diffusion line is part of a long-term deal between Ronson and the retailer, so this is just the beginning! ($15-$65;

Steven Alan for UniqloJapan-based Uniqlo made a big splash in the U.S. partially thanks to the launch of its Designers Invitation Project, which began in 2006, and included such names as Alexander Wang and Phillip Lim.

Three years later, Uniqlo is still making waves — and partnerships. Designer Steven Alan — best known for his trademark button-down shirts and unisex appeal — brandishes an urban-chic sensibility that pairs perfectly with Uniqlo’s Designers Invitation Project 2009.

In addition, the project also features up-and-coming brands Opening Ceremony, Shipley & Halmos and Gilded Age, each offering a fresh take on modern basics for women and men. ($39-$59, or 917-237-8800)

Alexander McQueen, Loomstate and Erickson Beamon for TargetIn addition to its wildly successful GO International initiative, Target is introducing a new way for consumers to get a sampling of designer styles. The store’s latest limited-time-only accessory collection offers standout statement jewelry by Erickson Beamon from Feb. 15 through June 26. The celeb-favorite design duo has re-crafted beautiful baubles we can actually afford, rather than dream and drool over! ($15-$60)

March 1 marked the beginning of the retailer’s new Designer Collaborations program. Alexander McQueen’s McQ collection was inspired by British rock band The Duck Spirit, and in true McQueen fashion, incorporates edgy elements such as studs and tattoo-prints ($20-$130). Finally, just in time for Earth Day, Target will launch an eco-friendly fashion collection with Loomstate. ($15-$45,