The fashion industry is a multi-billion dollar business that celebrates art, creativity and self-expression while providing millions of jobs around the world. However not all fashion is accessible to all people. Runway shows are not where the majority of us order our seasonal wardrobes from. Analysis by taste makers, fashion editors and now even top-tier fashion bloggers dictates what retailers will design for or sell to the masses. It is business and trends are no a coincidence.
Case study: High fashion interpretations of Birkenstocks-like sandals were all over the runways two years ago as seen above at Celine. The classic, comfort, anti-fashion symbol was emerging as a new trend. In fact the trend coined the descriptive fashion term “pretty-ugly”. How could something so disdained by the fashion elite become what every trend conscious lady wanted to wear? (Guilty as charged. You can read more about my relationship with Birkenstocks here.)
When a designer item becomes popularized you will find a version of said trend at the retailer of your choice. It’s not quite the same as seeking out a counterfeit Chanel bag down a dark alley in Chinatown but begs the question, should designers be flattered when their ideas are copied and mass manufactured? It a quandary. The fashion insiders who popularize trends have a unique sense of power. Their reputations and personal motivations will determine what the majority of people will want to wear and what stores will carry. It’s like a secret society that’s not so secret. They have it. People want it.
I consider myself neither a fashion insider nor a fashion victim. I do, however often find myself on the cusp of predicting what’s going to be a trend before it catches on. It’s not always a fun or inexpensive place to be. I may emulate a particularly stylish woman, or hone in on an item from a runway collection that I dream about. The issue is, before a trend item has been entrenched it can be quite difficult to find at a reasonable price.
Case study: The gladiator sandal. I have been coveting a pair of tall, lace-up gladiator sandals since I saw the Chloe Spring/Summer runway show in September of 2014. Truth be told, I wanted the entire collection. But those sandals, I wanted them something bad. Remember my look for less post a few months ago? That’s when the trend started picking up speed and you could find some decent looking tall gladiators that didn’t cost $1200 like the Chloe ones. Now, here we are at the start of summer and lace up gladiators are EVERYWHERE. Banana Republic, Aldo, Macy’s, H&M, Old Navy for heaven’s sake! Pretty much any women’s retailer that carries shoes has a variant. I find that the excitement has been replaced with displeasure that what I wanted is now what everyone and their mother will likely be wearing around town. The appeal has diminished significantly. The feeling of having something special and unique does not last long in the fashion arena. Shopping vintage may be the final frontier for unique pieces. Ironically, vintage pieces are often what inspire designers to create in the first place. Fashion is cyclical after all.
Despite my issues with fashion and apparel industries I really do have a passion for fashion. Super corny because it rhymes but It’s true. I’ve collected fashion magazines since I was in sixth grade and as a young girl I remember thinking that Ines De La Fressange was the epitome of chic. She was my fashion icon. Her style was something I admired. I was enamored by her confidence and flair. I knew owning a Chanel suit before graduating high school was unlikely but still, I took inspiration from her countless editorials and advertisements for Chanel.
Nowadays, I fear that young girls see a celebrity wearing a designer garment and they want to dress exactly like her to gain confidence or to prove something. Individuality seem to be fading away. It’s entirely possible, in fact likely, that a $12,000 dress worn on the red carpet or in a magazine editorial by an influential celebrity will be replicated and for sale at Forever21 for $29.95 in a matter of weeks. Fashion then becomes copying rather that taking inspiration. It reduces an art form to commerce and that disappoints me.
I do not stand in judgement. I wish when I was younger fashion trends were more accessible. However it’s that very attainability that takes away from the creativity and self-expression that comes with dressing oneself. What to do? I recommend a balance when it comes to shopping. Invest in a few quality pieces that are well made and enjoy some trendy goods sprinkled in from season to season. Bring out some oldie but goodies from your past and modernize the styling. Wear what you like and what you can afford and most importantly what makes you feel good. Mix individual elements of interest and combine the unexpected. Both are at the core of self expression.
Chances are, if you are at all interested in fashion you’ll come across an abundance of in-vogue pieces when you shop. Trendy feels safe. Bold and unique choices make you stand out from the crowd. Remember to always let your personality and individuality shine through. No one wants to bump into a friend wearing an identical outfit! Quelle horreur!
Is there anything on your fashion must have list? Do you love trends or do you find the world of fashion entirely tiresome? Does wearing trends make one a “fashion victim”. So much to discuss. Tell me, what do you think of all this?
Thankful for: Design Inspiration. Watching creatives create!
Wanting: To put together outfits this season by mixing my trendy buys with some old reliables, many of which date back to high school. Eeeek!
I’ve leaned: The novelty wears off. I know that just as Gladiator sandals have replaced Birkenstocks as the “must have” footwear this summer a new trend is on the verge for next summer. Hmmm, what will it be? White sneakers, mules? metallic lace up platforms? All real possibilities.