It used to be that designer clothing was either only for the rich and famous or an investment purchase. Thankfully, that is no longer the case.

Since the economic bubble burst in 2008, we have seen designers collaborating with fast fashion stores, specifically Target and followers Kohl’s, H&M and now Macy’s — which recently collaborated with fashion god Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of Chanel — to give us affordable lines that won’t leave us with buyer’s remorse.

It seems that there has been a transition in consumer spending since the recession began. Women, in particular, aren’t spending thousands of dollars on dresses, skirts and jackets, so the fashion industry had to adjust to its new consumer demand. And that’s exactly what it did.

Although many designers are transitioning their business to include affordable clothing lines, they are not sacrificing quality or design — cue to Missoni for Target and Versace for H&M. Collaborations offer design houses the opportunity to expand their label and offer a similar product at a lesser cost. They walk away with a larger customer demographic, and we walk away with affordable designer clothing. It’s a win-win situation.

Since the recession

In 2009, one year after the recession commenced, Target, the Minneapolis-based mass-retailer, was at the forefront of designer partnerships when it announced its collaboration with cutting-edge British designer Alexander McQueen.

With an impressive collection and a happy customer, Target followed in its own footsteps by introducing haute couture French designer John Paul Gaultier to the new “for Target” collaboration line. Gaultier’s collection paid tribute to American women by grabbing inspiration from American pop culture’s past and present. It was just what the country needed.

When Americans faced austerity and financial difficulty, Gaultier offered a collection about American pride. It was a collection that elevated the American spirit.

Other collaborations include Anna Sui, Temperley and Thakoon, a favorite of fashion blog Man Repeller’s.

This summer, Target excited children, college students, 20-somethings and mothers alike when they informed the public they would release a line in partnership with Missoni and its famous zig-zag pattern. The collection was so well-perceived by fashion editors and bloggers that there was sure to be Missoni-histeria.

Unfortunately, Target underestimated its marketing team, because the collection sold out within hours, causing the Target website to crash and leaving potential buyers very disappointed. Many walked away with a zig-zag something or other, but more were left empty-handed. What everyone took away from the Missoni for Target line was that Target set its bar pretty high for future designer collaborations.

Now in 2012, Target has a chance to redeem itself. Jason Wu, who designed Michelle Obama’s white one-shoulder Inaugural dress back in 2009, is Target’s newest high-end collaboration. Jason Wu for Target hit stores Feb. 5. So if you want something from Jason Wu’s luxe-looking 53-piece collection inspired by French New Wave films, you better get to Target soon. Everything is between $19.99 and $59.99. With a price point in that range the collection, which includes women’s clothing and accessories, is predicted to sell out quickly.

“We’ve reinforced that it’s available for a limited time only and only while supplies last,” a Target representative said.

No one knows for sure, but one can only expect Jason Wu for Target to fly off the shelves just as quickly as Missoni for Target did.

Target’s future

Target’s Missoni for Target collection was so successful that Target is transitioning their entire retail strategy. According to Women’s Wear Daily, Target will be discontinuing its Go International line and focus on “extend[ing] to categories such as jewelry, accessories, home furnishings, tabletop and even furniture. The new program will reportedly encompass a variety of different departments across the store, from food to clothing to home to pet food.”

We’ll continue to see innovative collaborative collections by some of the most popular designers that will extend past just womenswear lines. And who wouldn’t want that?