In Defense of Fast Fashion

Fast Fashion.  We are all familiar with the term. We are all familiar with many stores that sell fast fashion. H & MForever 21ZaraPrimark. 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.


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”!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to In Defense of Fast Fashion

  1. Liz McGarry says:

    Have you tried Everlane for online clothes shopping, Cathe? I’ve been buying from them lately and have been impressed with their quality, fit and prices. They fall into a medium price bracket – certainly not expensive but not cheap either. I love their long sleeve tees and their cashmere sweaters. I just ordered a pair of flats from them…looking forward to getting them.
    I wish you and all your family a very happy Thanksgiving…

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Liz!!! And happy Thanksgiving to you and your family for tomorrow! I’m lucky this year because I don’t have to cook the meal–just the desserts!
      And yes. I’ve heard of Everlane and have never read a negative review about the company. I’m going to have to check out the company’s site and see if perhaps I can treat myself!!! Thanks for reminding me!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  2. Susie says:

    That pretty pink sweater with its nice details really caught my eye. I love to wear pale pink in the winter. It cheers me up. Those are gorgeous shoes, too. Chippy is a good guard dog. My Fuzzy Pomeranian guards all of my shoes, dress up or old gardening. If I leave them out in the way on the floor, and my husband moves them in any way, Fuzzy springs into action to protect them. He doesn’t growl or bite at my husband, but gets huffy and puts himself between the shoes and husband. I think it’s a little odd, but cute.
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Susie. OMG. I think Fuzzy’s protection of your shoes and clothing is great! Chippy guards over my stuff because he thinks I’ll walk away and forget about the items, therefore giving him a snack!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  3. Penny says:

    I’m totally with you on this. There’s a lot of snobbery from posh, well paid journalists on the wonders of slow fashion and incredibly expensive ‘ethical’ clothes – give me a break. Actually some people cannot do anything else other than buy cheap fast fashion. And you’ve got it right – choose clothes for how they look and you know what, these clothes can be found in Primark and similar! Love the attitude of the Sunny Leigh Sherman and I’ll have to look her up on Instagram. I try not to get too sucked into that platform, but she looks like a must! And I absolutely want that fringed skirt! Great post – agree with everything you say!!!!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Penny! I KNEW you would enjoy this post and I’m glad you commented! You’re right–it is snobbery to get all bent out of shape about fast fashion. And ethics? Please–don’t even get me started on the ethics of our politicians here in the States–its far worse! And it’s true–what about the woman on a very fixed income? The one who still wants to look up-to-date in her wardrobe.
      Sunny’s IG feed is amazing–and she has a place in St. Tropez so you will love her St. Trop looks too!!!! We were to meet up last summer, but given the turn of events with my father-in-law, perhaps next year!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  4. Juliet says:

    I am totally with you and Penny above, I get annoyed with the “case against” fast fashion, like Penny says – snobbery. That is someones wage, that is someones kid eating that night, that may be a crappy job but it is incredibly important to someone while they hope and strive for better, some working conditions are heinous – but what is the critic going to do as an alternative – just leave that city? and those employees?. That said, fast fashion DOES an important thing in the western world just like you say – it has democratised fashion so not just the wealthy/slim/elite/ can buy the clothing they like to express themselves and consider themselves fashionable – not all trends/looks are necessarily led by the big expensive fashion names, whether or not Id wear some of these trends is irrelevant – fashion has opened up because of this, that is a good thing. The thing about fast fashion that really seems important to me is not blaming its existence for any of our bad spending habits – yes I buy my H&M tee shirts, they are great and I love Uniqlo and a few others (can’t afford to live in Jigsaw and besides Id look an idiot head to foot in one brand and while I am losing weight…), we should be looking at/considering our side of the transaction – fast fashion does not necessarily mean disposable fashion, some of my cheapest tee shirts are the oldest. I look after ALL my clothing and respect the making of it. It is our response to fast fashion not fast fashion per se that can be the problem.

    And I am off to investigate oldfashionguru – she has some great thoughts on the subject and comes across as a lovely person to respond so thoughtfully

    • Catherine says:

      Hey Juliet! You have said a mouthful!! And you are so correct in all that you commented on! Some of my best-constructed shirts are actually from Uniqlo. I love that store–and I love it because they keep the store’s selection small and not overwhelming. And I also love what you wrote about fast fashion not necessarily being disposable. Great points!
      Yeah–definitely check Sunny’s IG feed. You will love her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  5. LA CONTESSA says:

    I AGREE with everything she says here………..GOOD POST!XO

  6. fiona says:

    I don’t think I can add anything much further. Excellent post, personally I think there is room for both fast fashion and luxe brands. Like Juliet says, fast fashion keeps people in work, the working conditions may be hellish but I’d like to bet that most of those people still need to keep those jobs. Going to check out @oldfashionguru now.
    Happy Thanksgiving…I think it’s tomorrow?

    • Catherine says:

      Hi fiona! Boy–I’m happy that the responses have all been favorable. I was somewhat edgy that friends would be a bit disagreeable with the views in the post. But it’s true. Are those who think FF is horrific going to take the workers into their own homes? Right???? I’ll tell you, Sunny is no fashion snob and that is one of the reasons I admire and appreciate her. She’s transparent and that is a gift these days. You will love her IG feed!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  7. Susan says:

    Excellent article, Catherine! There was a lot of depth and development in your ideas. I like that!

  8. Q.D says:

    I get ranty about minimum wage vs cost of living wage, because in many places they are very different things. We have a couple of SUPER cheap clothing places here in Oz, their stuff is all made in places like Bangladesh, Pakistan, and I have done significant research over the years over who pays their factory workers Cost of Living not Minimum, and it just makes me feel better about myself that I CAN still buy the insanely cheap thing and not feel like I am destroying people’s lives at the same time.

    That said, I wish we had Primark here!

  9. ejsna says:

    Sunny, love it! And I have enjoyed a good post!

  10. J says:

    Hope you had a Thanksgiving full of gratitude and deliciousness. I spot thrift stores, by financial necessity and, after many years of doing that, for the thrill of the chase, too. So fast fashion is has expensive as my budget can go at the moment. BUT I love clothes and style (and your blog) and find that the same “rules” apply. I pair my higher end pieces from thrift stores with items from Old Navy (on sake) and Target (on sale) and I feel fabulous, comfortable, and uniquely myself. If fashion isn’t fun…it isn’t fabulous!

  11. HelloIm50ish says:

    You and I are followers of Sunny but I’m still on the sidelines when it comes to fast fashion. I recently purchased over the knee boots at Target that were so painful to wear and you couldn’t tell which was the right foot or the left foot!
    The saying,”You get what you pay for” is true to Target style, but they have really worked hard at upping their game.I’m impressed with their clothes, (which I haven’t purchased but I see women modeling Target on their IG feed.) but it was a complete fail with the boots.
    I have never shopped at Zara’s but it seems I need to check them out.
    Good post!


    • Catherine says:

      Hi Robin! Well, I’m not one to find any shoes at Target. When it comes to footwear, I’m a bit on the particular side–LOL! Strangely, I never find anything at Target. I know tons of other women who do–my daughter included, but the store’s brands don’t work for me. Zara is set to open here at King of Prussia mall in the near future. I cannot wait!!!!!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  12. Sarah says:

    Excellent post…That pretty pinky pinky sweater with its nice details really caught my eyes. Loved that sweater completely dear. I have never shopped at H & M and forever 21, seems I need to check those outlet stores asap for new clothes. Last year I shopped from Zara, the collection was so good there. My favorite place to hang out with my friends. Thank you so much for sharing this post dear. Best wishes and Regards.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Sarah! Thank you so much! Yeah. I really lucked out with that inexpensive purchase of the sweater from Primark!!! Best wishes to you as well!!! And don’t be a stranger!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  13. shopperfly says:

    Great advice

  14. Ciera Farley says:

    Fast Fashion definitely has its place, especially in terms of trendier items that are bound to go out of style before the end of the season.

  15. Great post 😍😍😍😍

  16. Into The Eco says:

    Hey Catherine, I have just come across your blog! Great to connect with you! I love your detailed and lengthy post, good content is so underrated!
    I agree in parts with the point of this article. It is like oldfashionguru says, if you are buying fast fashion because you love the item you are buying, you can see it is good quality and you think you will wear it for years to come, there is no shame in that, no shame at all. We all have to wear clothes, and we should all feel great in our clothes.
    Unfortunately (and btw I am no snob) Fast fashion, I feel takes advantage of the earth’s resources by rotating stock so quickly, the makers by not paying them enough and by doing that they also take advantage of us. It is a shame because it doesn’t have to be like this. Fashion is now firstly and foremostly a money maker, so we have to make sure we as customers are spending our money wisely, and not be tricked by the false economy of poor quality. Talking about what we desire the fashion industry to be should not be put in the box of snobbery, many people are passionate to just have a fashion industry that reflects the world we want to live in. More compassion for the people within it and the planet 😀 I thank you again for such a thought provoking post! I hope you have a really great day! Look forward to reading more of your content.
    Love Lottie xxx

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Lottie! Thanks so much for commenting on this. It’s so funny because the fast fashion/ethical clothing topic is just so varied and there are so many nuances within the subject! But welcome to this blog and let it be know, that here, we agree to disagree and we all disagree with respect for each other. Nobody gets nasty or defensive so your comment is very much welcomed and appreciated! Hope to hear more from you!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

      • Into The Eco says:

        Hi Catherine, I do agree with many of the points your piece made. You are right there are so many different ways of looking at the topic from different angles. Myself I work in fashion (the fast fashion sector) so I can’t be too critical, I hope to see positive changes so we don’t need to defend it any more. Really nice to see your reply, that is very nice to hear, great to connect with you! xxxxx

  17. mdrnmusing says:

    Hey, I really enjoyed this post. There are things that I do appreciate about fast fashion, but with the increasing popularity of ethical/middleman cutting companies like Everlane practically eradicate any need for me to buy from fast fashion chains. Great post!

  18. I absolutely loved reading this! So many great points for young professionals who are trying to build their wardrobe.

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks Classy!!! It’s true though, what are young professionals to do? I remember how very well Forever 21 served my daughter well when she was in college and had just graduated……XOXOXOXO!!!!

  19. Hi Catherine, yeah actually for me, fast fashion is really difficult to resist 😀 Also, thank you for sharing Sunny’s thought 🙂


    • Catherine says:

      Hi Bella! It is so difficult to resist. For example–I would love a leopard print jacket–but I refuse to spend money on something that I’m not sure will be on point in a few more seasons–what’s wrong with Primark or Zara, etc.? Oh..I was so thrilled to have Sunny give her thoughts. I love her so much!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  20. tomtopang says:

    i very agree with the jacket from Shein! its so cute and high fash!

  21. Such an awesome post! Fast fashion does have its place and I love many of the designers listed because hey, we all can’t afford a wardrobe of Chanel and other designers.

    xx Byrdie

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Byrdi!! So very true. I think many who look down upon fast fashion are those who can afford the designer stuff–not all, but many. And for the masses, there’s nothing bad about wanting to look fashionable I’m with you!!! XOXOXOXO

  22. What a great post, thank you for sharing it with my on FB! I am going to share it as well. Bottom line, everyone should wear whatever they like and makes them happy. There should be something from everyone and you’ve shown here there are many options and putting together your own personal best style doesn’t have to break the bank!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Suzanne! So happy that you enjoyed this post!!!!! We all have our personal styles and the beauty of a personal style is that we can chose what we like–whether high or low end or both!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  23. Pingback: In Defense of Fast Fashion — Atypical 60 – Stylish Universal

  24. I loved this post! You have a lovely sense of style.

Leave a Reply