from where i sit: fast fashion

14 Nov

you’ve seen it. a myriad of respectable, well-known designers staking their claim in the mass market world via low-priced retailers. mr. lagerfeld kicked things off eight years ago, and soon an impressive lineup would follow. we had stella mccartney and comme des garçons for h&m (following in lagerfeld’s footsteps), christopher kane for topshop and a slew of notables for target.

sure, these for-the-masses collections seem exciting and fun with their “limited-edition” tags that compel even the most jaded fashion mavericks to urgently buy, but what does it really mean? what does it mean for the industry, for the reputation and prestige of “fashion,” and for society as a whole?

the notion of “fast fashion” is not totally unique. it’s one of many examples of the state of consumerism today. no longer do shoppers – for whatever product: clothing, furniture, appliances, cars – spend considerable amounts of time researching competing qualities of items. no longer do the masses study what goes into making a product and whether the process deems the outcome worthy of our dollars. no longer do we value quality. now the mark of a “good buy” is the lowest pricetag on the sales floor. we have become of society of disposables.

this is a scary concept that has many repercussions – at least as i see it. with the notion of “cheap” we’ve all become intoxicated with – meaning “low priced,” in modern day vernacular – how are we ever supposed to revamp this country’s manufacturing arm? bigger, faster, cheaper is not a goal accomplished here at home.

so while yes, it’s a nice thought that we can bring “designer” fashion to the masses, we have to take a step back and consider what that actually means. fashion was an exclusive industry for a reason. you have to work hard to be able to afford quality clothes. just like you have to work hard to buy a new oven, lease a new car, own a home, etc. but i fear our society has become too lazy for all that. because why would you make the extra effort when essentially the same labels (on the surface, anyway), are readily available at your corner convenience store?

on the flip side, one might argue that there’s no other choice – how are consumers supposed to buy quality items when the divide between price points is so steep? you have a $10 “designer” shirt on one end, and a $250 “designer” t-shirt on the other. doesn’t sound so democratic to me. sounds like another indication of the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots.

and that, i would say, is the real problem here.

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