Fast Fashion. We are all familiar with the term. We are all familiar with many stores that sell fast fashion. H & M. Forever 21. Zara. Primark. Old Navy. Target’s collaborations with many designers fall into the fast fashion genre as well.
Forever 21. THE place where Oona purchased many clothes during her high school, college and just-out-of-college days. I’ve got quite a few items from here as well. Something fun, trendy and very inexpensive can always be found here!
And here’s the thing. A lot of people despise “Fast” fashion. Quite a few high-end designers aren’t fans of fast fashion because it mars their roll-out timeline.
Scour the internet and you will find tons of articles and opinions about how awful this sort of clothing manufacturing is for the environment and for the people who work in the factories–especially in third-world countries.
However, I’m not going there with this post—simply because the working conditions for many employees in America is just as bad. Millions of Americans are underpaid and underinsured and many are at the poverty level because minimum wages haven’t been raised in years—and looks like they will remain stagnant for at least three more years.
But I digress. This is about the clothing. Let’s get that straight.
Fast Fashion does have its place. For younger people starting out in their careers, it offers affordability. And with high rents and student loan debt to pay, it is a welcome change from higher-end items that won’t be within their reach until they climb that corporate ladder.
For women like me–those in the middle, fast fashion comes in to help us put a wardrobe together. We can’t afford the truly higher-end designer items. We’re the ones who shop at J. Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor and the mid-range departments at Nordstroms.
I’m the consumer in the middle–I can’t afford luxury brands but the fast fashion “inspired” looks work for me. My middle-range J. Crew is the brand I’m loyal to!
If we need to change up the look of an outfit, we can get an inexpensive quick fix at Primark or a similar store.
For me, it’s about mixing mid-range and low end. I can’t afford a Louis Vuitton Neverfull bag, but I am fortunate enough to have a few leather Longchamp bags in my possession.
Those beautiful Badgley Mischka shoes I picked up at Nordstrom Rack? I found the perfect sweater to wear with them for Holiday socializing. At $8.00 it was the greatest fast fashion buy. The sweater is on trend, very well-made and if I have it for more than two seasons, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Those beautiful Badgley Mischka’s now have a friend. From Primark. Chippy approves!
This eight-dollar sweater is very well-made for such an inexpensive item…
…and the fit is perfect. Worn with jeans, this’ll be a hit during the Holidays!
This knit beret was two bucks at Primark. It’ll keep my head and wigs warm during the winter. AND Primark was THE only store that had green tights!
For example, I covet the Chanel Lady Jacket. But—it is way out of my price point. Shein, a fast fashion website, has a varied assortment of this type of jacket—and all within the $25 to $30 price range. This one for $29, spoke to me. It may not have the quality and workmanship of Mr. Karl’s workshop, but it fits and looks fine.
This jacket from Shein is adorable. It’s very “Chanel” inspired and at a fraction of the cost. Mr. Karl would approve! Maybe.
The lighting is bad here but this is the cutest long-sleeved tee. With scalloped edges at the hem, neckline and sleeves. At ten dollars, it was a fast fashion winner from Shein!
And how could I resist this Walmart Special? I ran in for butter yesterday and walked out with butter and a white ski jacket for ten bucks! The bubble gum is a diet aid! (Thank you for the gum idea Michelle Tyler)
My defense of fast fashion got me to thinking. Are there any fashion experts who don’t shun this type of quickly manufactured clothing? Then I thought about one of my favorite Instagramers—Old Fashion Guru. Sunny Leigh Sherman. She ran her own clothing line and has the most incredible style. Her ability to mix high and low is swoon-worthy. And she does it so effortlessly. I mean it. You have to go to her IG feed @oldfashionguru and see for yourself. You must subscribe to her feed. It’s freakin’ amazeballs!
The fashion sense of @oldfashionguru
Anyway, I reached out to her about her thoughts on defending fast fashion. Here’s her response. Read it. Everything she writes is so spot on—and check out the photos from her IG feed—it’ll prove that fast fashion can certainly blend in with the high luxury brands!
Sunny’s Thoughts on Fast Fashion!
I’ve been a fashion designer for most of my working life……. that’s over 45 years! My affordable brand could be found in most department stores from coast to coast. In my career, I’ve dressed MILLIONS of women from a size 2 to size 32 and consider myself an expert in fit and how to flatter all shapes and sizes.
One of the things I prided myself about my product was the quality of the make……it looked as good on the inside as it did on the outside. We didn’t skimp on quality because of our lower prices. We just had to sell more! I learned from an early age how garments are made and the tricks to make them look and wear better and longer. Since I owned the company and it was MY name on the label, I could do what I wanted and that was to give our gal the best value at any price!
As an industry leader, I was exposed to fashion at all levels and had the opportunity to buy whatever I wanted for myself from any designer or brand. I came to appreciate that high price and high quality did not go hand in hand. I paired tees and tanks from discount or chain stores under Chanel jackets long before there was such a thing as “high/low” dressing. My criteria was and is: well styled, well made and well fitted garments that feel and look good on.
With the advent of weekly magazines like People and US and then the internet and the democratization of style across the world, trends started spinning faster and faster and new companies sprang up to meet the demands of a consumer who wanted to wear what she saw her favorite celebrity or public figure wearing. Before that, it was the monthly print magazines that mostly showed women what they didn’t know they wanted! It became silly in many minds to spend a fortune for an item that would be out of style before you got it home and for others impossible to afford so many new things. Enter stores that catered to these ever-changing trends with prices that wouldn’t break the bank of the consumer each time she bought something. Voila… Fast Fashion!
I have always been “trendy” in my manner of dress but years ago fashion trends lasted longer than five minutes! The biggest difference in price points in those days was the quality of fabric. You could be pretty much assured of a luxurious “hand” or feel of the garment if you paid a lot of money for it. That’s not true today. There are many “luxury” brands that have cheapened their make and fabrications and there are many chains that give you high quality and high value along with being right on trend. Zara is the first brand that comes to my mind in that latter category.
Zara is a bit pricier than fast fashion giants like Forever 21 or H & M but the quality to price ratio deserves recognition. I’ve purchased real leather boots, sneakers and jackets that fit better than brands costing more than ten times the price! In fact, my ubiquitous black leather moto that appears all over my Instagram is from Zara. It perfectly fits my criteria of being well styled, well made with a great fit that feels and looks good on. I was willing to spend anything on a perfect LBM (little black moto). I was obsessed with finding it!! And Zara won out over all designer brands.
FAST FASHION LETS ME HAVE FUN AND STAY CURRENT WITHOUT COMPROMISING MY VALUES.
I’m still a sucker for a well-made garment but I’m also not above buying a trendy piece that I know will fall apart after a couple of wears ‘cause I also know I probably won’t want to wear it much more than that. I’ve never been a brand snob but I’ve always purchased what I consider the best out there- at any price. My closet is filled with gorgeous designer pieces that I’ve had for years and fast fashion pieces to accompany them. Because my taste has stayed pretty constant over the years and I’ve always been able to spot a trend (if not originate one!), I can re-imagine looks from what I already own by just adding a piece here and there.
I love fast fashion for exactly what it represents: the ability to change a look on a dime (almost literally) and be current with any new fashion trend that catches my eye at a price I don’t have to think about. There’s still a place for designer duds but as I said, if you hold fast fashion to my criteria of style, fit, feel and look you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what’s out there.
And there you have it! Thoughts from a professional and leader in fashion and thoughts from a non-profession and dedicated follower of fashion!
Let’s have a better look at her style. Shall we?
Jacket: Zara. Tee: H & M. Skirt: Chanel. Boots: Prada. Bag: Chanel (I’m so in love with that skirt–but the way the high end is mixed with the fast fashion is life!
Jacket: H & M. Tee: Chaser. Jeans: Current/Elliot. Boots: Gucci. Bag: Hermes.
Jacket: Zara. Tank: Flea Market. Jeans: Frame. Shoes: Dior!
Blouse: L’Agence. Jeans: Zara. Mules: Gucci
Jacket: Zara. Jeans Citizens of Humanity. Boots (L) Zara, (R) Celine. Bag: Chanel
And…..Who does this? Who can make a checked or plaid blazer and matching pants not look clownish? Sunny can! That’s who!!!!!
stJacket: Zara. Pants: Zara. Shirt : L’Agence. Belt: Gucci
I’ll tell you–aren’t those combos of high-end/low-end great? It proves that if you have style and panache, and the eye, you can be successful with fast fashion!
Thanks so much to Sunny Leigh Sherman for contributing her expertise on the subject! And I think that today, I’ll pay homage to her with the Bobby Hebb song. Remember it? “Sunny”!