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Fashion Star, Episode 4: Designing for Multiple Markets

Just before I started my third year in college, I bought my first-ever expensive handbag. It was a roomy grey leather tote from Marc by Marc Jacobs and cost roughly $560. (Which was, might I add—worth every penny. It's been about four years since and I still use it at least once a week.) Until that moment, I had never spent so much money on one single item.

The first day I proudly carried it was to my part time job; my co-workers immediately cooed over and complimented my new accessory. One of them asked who made it. When I answered, "Marc Jacobs," she drew back and gave me a look. "Marc Jacobs? Or MARC by Marc Jacobs?"

At the time, I was really annoyed by her need to make the distinction. My new bag was still plenty awesome to me, even without the high-end label. But, as they illustrated in last night's episode of Fashion Star, there is an important difference between main and diffusion lines, as well as the type of customer who buys them.

For instance: I now realize that, even if I had the money for a REAL Marc Jacobs bag back in college, it wouldn't have been a practical purchase. I was a student constantly schlepping around the city—what would I have done with a quilted Stam bag? However, the fact that this judgy girl recognized the difference (and even that I was happy owning any type of Marc Jacobs product) proves that he is not just a designer, but also a bona fide brand. Two brands, actually.

During this week's show, each of the remaining contestants made two garments—one luxury item and a lower-priced interpretation—to send down the runway. Then, the buyers could choose to buy one, both or neither of the items. The most successful products of the week were the ones that were the most clear interpretations of the same idea. One of my favorites was Kara's tuxedo jacket. Her showpiece was a tuxedo jacket with long, dramatic tails. The more marketable version hit neatly at the waist, but utilized the same fabric and colors. Just like the past two weeks, Saks was quick to place an order.

Click through the slideshow below to see the other products purchased and where you can buy them. Pay extra attention to the pieces that are available in both variations and let us know which piece better fits your style. Would you rather wear more conceptual clothing or something toned down?

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Barbara said that these fall in an entirely new category of clothing: the dress/vest or..."dwavest."

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This was swimsuit designer Nikki's first-ever high-end piece and she was pretty stressed about it. Looks like her hard work paid off.

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Sarah, yet again, appealed to H&M with her simple, yet fashion forward, sihouettes. The buyer said, "We believe in you, Sarah."

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The dress is cute, but the highlight of Luciana's presentation was when she and the Saks buyer spoke in Spanish to each other. ("Gracias!" "Bueno, por fin, podemos hablar en español.")

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Surprisingly, Saks choose to produce the longer version of Kara's tuxedo jacket. It's still really amazing, but definitely demands a very specific type of girl.

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