As a teenager, it is common for us to be self-conscious about the way we look. As it is commonly told, first impressions matter. Many things help our first impressions of other people – appearance, demeanor, and especially fashion. For this reason, clothing brands try their hardest to influence style and help their customers look their best every day. But many people wonder – what drives fashions’ latest trends? The more common brands that are more affordable to the public, or the high-end brands with years of credibility and stature for their works (not to mention, the level of exclusivity on their price points)? As someone who shops from both types of clothing stores, it is imperative to me to find out what types of brands drive my shopping experience for clothing.
Before diving into the question of influence by brands, the difference between a Fast- Fashion and a Luxury Brand should be established. According to Investopedia, Fast fashion is defined as the action of retailers taking trends that are seen on the runways of Fashion Weeks and displaying those trends in their stores. These stores mainly attract sales not specifically through the trends themselves, but the price points they list on their products. Many of these brands are commonly found in New York and many cities where many shopping districts exist. These types of brands include Zara, H&M, Forever 21, and many more popular stores. Examples of which are shown below.
Photo from: Economic Times
Photo From: SecNews24
Photo From: Fortune
Fast fashion brands used to have just two seasons: Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. But according to Shannon Whitehead of the Huffington Post, after recent times, they’ve started to adopt more seasons – as much as 52 seasons. The idea behind this is for the brands to drive their consumers to buy as many products as they can while they are still in that season.
Now, it’s fairly obvious to why Fast Fashion can attract many people and influence their fashion. Fast Fashion brands entice too many because they provide current fashion trends at remarkably discount prices compared to many Luxury retailers. Although this may be an obvious fact, their influence on fashion and trends as a whole can still be seen as questionable. As mentioned by the Seattle Thread Company, because they must keep their attractive price points and be able to satisfy the masses at all times, there is a sacrifice to the quality of materials that is used to make the clothes. As a result, the durability of the items may not be as strong, and with different materials being used in the production of their clothes, it is not as satisfactory. Although someone may be buying and emulating a certain style, they can argue that fast fashion brands do not essentially recreate the look when doing so. These factors take away some of the popularity of a fast fashion brand, but even raises some skeptical thoughts about whether fast fashion brands influence fashion at all, since in many cases, such as shown below, they are only replicating designer brand trends.
Photo from: Rockin Sneaks
This is one example of Fast Fashion brand H&M recreating a pair of trousers originally designed by designer streetwear brand Fear of God. The Fear of God pants retailed for almost $600, while the H&M alternatives retailed for only $24.99
Photo from: Rockin Sneaks
Another example of the replication is the Haider Ackermann oversized sweater as seen on Kanye West (left). H&M recreated this sweater in three different colors and retailed them for $29.99, while the Haider Ackermann sweater definitely retailed for much more than that.
Photo from: W Magazine
These types of recreations help fuel the trends Fast Fashion brands sell to their customers, making the newly formed ‘trends’ more available. There are many more examples of this, as seen on W Magazine’s 7 Most Shameless Designer Knockoffs
Luxury brands, on the other hand, follow a more intricate process to attain their status, and thus doing so have their own mark on fashion influence. Luxury brands must first establish themselves against other already established luxury brands, ultimately competing with them and eventually gaining some sort of recognition as their competitor. According to Pamela L. Danziger from Forbes, there are 10 Values that even make up a Luxury Brand – Superior Performance, Craftsmanship, Exclusivity, Innovation, Place and Time, Sophistication and Aesthetic, Creative Expression, Relevance, Heritage, and Responsibility. These components are seemingly crucial to all fashion brands, but are more heavily focused on in defining Luxury Brands.
This is because the customer basis of these brands is a much more fickle crowd and in therefore cares more about the brands ethic and values at a much higher count than those who typically shop at a Fast Fashion brand. The designs Luxury brands have on their clothing are typically the pioneers of the trends Fast Fashion brands emulate in their merchandise, as they are first showcased on fashion runways. Some examples of this can be seen below. But with the price points being much higher and sometimes even so exclusive to a certain amount/crowd of individuals, does their work really influence fashion as much as one would expect from a Luxury Brand?
Photo from: Nick Verros Blogpost
Photo From: Style Cartel
With fashion being a very subjective topic, many people come from different mediums of perspectives when figuring out what influences fashion. According to Andrew Meta from Inc., many wealthier customers may only look at Luxury Brands because they focus on the details, the relationships the brands build, and the exclusivity of the products. Whereas those who primarily shop at Fast Fashion brands mainly focus on the look of the clothing and the affordable prices. This makes trend a very broad topic, and who influences it more is a very debatable topic. One can argue that without the Luxury Brands, there would be no styles of clothing for the Fast Fashion brands to imitate, thus no outreach to the public. But however, without the Fast Fashion brands, there would be a much smaller note-able scale of influence by the Luxury Brands because the higher price points and lower stock count Luxury Brands carry limits the amount of people that can have that clothing and be involved in the current trends. Fast Fashion brands enable the mass adoption of the trends Luxury Brands preview on the runways of fashion shows and then put in their own stores.
Fashion is backed by the masses, as many people want to be apart of it. Teenagers who want to make a first impression on their friends and others to adults who embody the clothing they wear as a part of who they are all take a part in the representation of the trends brands put out. It is obvious that both Fast Fashion and Luxury Brands both play a very big part in the overall influence of fashion, and thus therefore will forever have no certainty on which of the two is more influential. All that can be determined is that both levels of clothing brands rely on each other whether they recognize that or not.