Fast fashion retailers up prices without forgoing unethical practices

Competition among fast fashion retailers has led stores like Forever 21 and Zara to increase prices without cutting back on their shady, inhumane and downright dirty design and production practices, according to The Fashion Law.

“Additionally, [thanks to] the influx and success of other similarly situated web-based retailers like Nasty Gal, Missguided and Pixie Market, the most longstanding fast fashion retailers, such as H&M, Forever 21 and Zara, are being forced to up the ante in order to attract new customers and to hang on to the ones they already have.”

This has caused fast fashion retailers to stock their shelves, both in-store and online, with higher priced goods. Stores known for their cheaply made and cheaply priced versions (i.e., copies) of runway trends now stock $70 trousers and $60 sweaters, without changing the unethical and harmful methods with which they are produced.

Adding variety to their garments in terms of price, quality and, in some cases, brand, The Fashion Law continues, helps fast fashion retailers keep up with competition. Some even stock certain pieces on Revolve.com and other non-fast fashion e-commerce websites.

Alexa Chung wearing Topshop at Topshop Unique’s Fall/Winter 2015 show [source: Who What Wear]

“Another theory centers on the fact that influencers–whether it be Alexa Chung, who has been a proponent of Topshop for years, Olivia Palermo, who is a fan of Zara or Kendall and Kylie Jenner, who have been spotted in Forever 21 and Nasty Gal garments, and have fronted their own collection for PacSun–have increased demand for street brands, thereby driving up prices,” according to The Fashion Law.

In short, it seems high fashion is not as cool or desirable as it once ways. The more young consumers see social media startlets like Kendall and Kylie Jenner shopping–and designing!–fast fashion, the more likely they are to shop fast fashion themselves. Thanks to Kendall Jenner and co., buying cheap is trendy again, and fast fashion’s accessibility ensures young people will keep consuming it.

“One major factor [in the rise of fast fashion prices] has been this real push globally by some of the fashion industry’s most influential bloggers and fashion editors, who have said to the world, ‘it’s OK to mix and match,’” says Simon Lock, owner and CEO of The Lock Group and the pioneering force behind Mercedes-Benz Australia Fashion Week.

“It’s OK to wear a Chloe top with a pair of Zara or H&M jeans. With that has come a certain amount of prestige that is then associated with these fast fashion brands and as a result, consumers are willing to pay more for it.”

Lock is not alone in believing this theory. In fact, it is an idea he has in common with Anna Wintour, esteemed Editor-in-Chief of Vogue magazine.

Bercu on the cover of Wintour’s first Vogue, November 1988 [source: Vogue]

“[Wintour’s] first-ever Vogue cover, from the November 1988 issue, featured model Michaela Bercu in a Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele-styled look of a haute couture Christian Lacroix jacket and stonewashed Guess jeans,” according to The Fashion Law.

The Christian Lacroix jacket, Wintour revealed in 2012, came with a matching skirt. But, Bercu gained a little weight prior to her photoshoot with Vogue–she had been on vacation at home in Israel–so the skirt did not fit her.

“It was so unlike the studied and elegant close-ups that were typical of Vogue’s covers back then, with tons of makeup and major jewelry. This one broke all the rules. Michaela wasn’t looking at you, and worse, she had her eyes almost closed. Her hair was blowing across her face. It looked easy, casual, a moment that had been snapped on the street, which it had been, and which was the whole point,” Wintour continued, reflecting on the issue on Vogue’s 120th anniversary.

“I had just looked at that picture and sensed the winds of change. And you can’t ask for more from a cover image than that.”

It seems Wintour was ahead of her time.

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