The Price of Fast Fashion Vs. Designer Clothes

Apr 20, 2015 at 12:59 pm |
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Ever take a day to shop and walk right past the row of designer stores without even taking a glance? Telling yourself they’re too expensive. Then do you walk into a fast fashion brand like H&M or Forever 21 to score a whole outfit for the same price as just one shirt at one of those designer brands? Maybe you feel even a little proud of yourself for scoring such a deal?

But do you know what that “deal” is really costing you? It may be time to reconsider your shopping habits and start stepping into those designer stores.

The Price of Fast Fashion
Fast fashion business models are built to keep consumers coming back, and often. They do this in two ways. First, they continually pump out new designs to make the clothes you just bought look out of fashion after the first time you wear them. Topshop, for example, introduces around 400 new styles every week to their website. H&M and Forever 21 receive new shipments of clothes every day.

Second, they purposely make clothes cheap so they fall apart after a few wears (definitely by the end of the season). The average American throws away about 65 pounds of clothes per year. Not donated, straight to trash. Even if you donate, only about 15% of those textiles are usable, the rest is tossed.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for fast fashion’s ethical habits. Many use low-wage sweat shop labor to churn out the hundreds of new styles every week. Zara has been under fire for many bad choices, including using slave labor more than once. In 2013, one of H&M’s factories in Rana Plaza collapsed and killed over 1,000 people, without much change to their work practices.

This should all be worth considering when you’re striking your “deal” at these lower cost shops.

The Price of Designer
Sure, you’re paying more for designer clothes. But, unlike fast fashion, there’s more of an investment in what you’re purchasing. First, designer brands often make one line for each season. So what’s available in the beginning of summer is exactly what they’re selling at the end of summer (albeit a few items), so you won’t feel out of style after one wear of your clothes.

More so, designer brands are always fashion forward. Fast fashion typically mimics designer brands a year or two later – meaning your designer outfit can often last (trend-wise), a few seasons. Even better, some of the best designer clothes are classic looks that can last years without ever looking dated.

Designer clothes are also made at a much higher quality. This means better fabrics and typically hand-stitched rather than machine stitched. This will guarantee that your garmet won’t fall apart after one wear, and if treated well, can last a long time. (And if you’re spending the extra money, most likely you’re going to treat it well!)

Of course, not all designer clothing is made equal, and it’s still up to the consumer to seek out brands and pieces that have a good price for the quality.

If price is still an issue, consider buying vintage designer clothing. Often, the item is still in good condition because it was well made, and you can find classic pieces that stay fashionable no matter the season.

This may not convince you to completely switch over to designer brands, but perhaps it will allow you to consider what you’re actually paying for when you find those cheap deals. Funnily enough, many of those fast fashion brand’s employees are told to never call their clothes cheap, “call them affordable,” their managers say, “because cheap makes it seem like they’re low quality.” Exactly.

Do you know what those “deals” are really costing you? It may be time to start stepping into those designer stores.