By  on August 7, 2007

Can fashion be collected with the fervor of fine art? Judging from the ongoing success of the booming limited edition business, it would seem so.

Shoppers are showing an unabated appetite for rarity — at least the idea of it — as more and more brands, from Levi’s to Martin Margiela, roll out limited edition products.

“It’s exploding today,” said Milan Vukmirovic, the former Jil Sander designer who plans to open a luxury boutique in Miami later this year. “For a shop, it is a great way to offer something different from the competition.”

The phenomenon spans across categories and price points. Hermès, for example, created 10 $25,000 Cape Cod watches for the opening of its Wall Street store in New York. Prada hooked up with Rem Koolhaas on $160 limited edition white T-shirts. Wrangler has limited edition jeans; Puma has limited edition sneakers; J. Crew has limited edition clothes; Ralph Lauren did limited edition shirts for Net-a-Porter to raise funds for breast cancer. Marc Jacobs has limited edition home fragrances; John Galliano did a limited edition candle with Dyptique; Sean “Diddy” Combs did limited edition fragrances, as have others; Samsonite did a limited edition luggage collection with Alexander McQueen, and cheap-chic retailer Topshop even did limited edition $575 dresses by Kate Moss.

“It’s almost comical,” said Sarah Lerfel, who runs the hip Paris store Colette. “When you turn on the TV, you even see advertisements for limited edition cheese. But it still works. It proves people want something different. We have to get them in the store. If they can’t get it online or elsewhere, they will come in.”

And they arrive in droves. Lerfel said recent limited edition phenomena at the store include everything from Anya Hindmarch’s “I’m Not A Plastic Bag” canvas carryall for 12 euros, or $16, to 3,000-euro ($4,100) watches from Bell & Ross. “[Hindmarch’s] bags are incredible,” said Lerfel. “We sold out of 200 in an hour.” (They weren’t the only ones: The bags sold out worldwide and have ended up on eBay selling for up to $300.)

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