Thursday, 12 July 2012

THE HIGH STREET FASHION TRAP

Today in H&M, wedged amongst the many, many rails of sale clothes, I got to thinking about throw-away high street fashion.

It's no secret that clothes purchased on the high street lose the majority of their value as soon as they're bought by the customer. It seems like a good idea at the time, in the seductive atmosphere of the shop, because you feel like you really want a peplum top or some harem pants. But a few weeks down the line when everyone hates peplums and harems, you're just left with some over priced garments that are now worth nothing and you won't wear again, ever. The bottom line is...we are obsessed with high street trends that change from month to month, rendering the purchases of months past as worthless.

This is bad for several reasons. Firstly, it's just pure wasteful. Secondly, our drive to have the latest 'on trend' item is turning us in to slaves, literally consuming whatever fad is thrown at us. Thirdly, as well as making us slaves, it's transforming us in to the spitting image of each other, which is dull, to say the least. Finally, it's fuelling cheap foreign labour and has already completely obliterated the British sewing/textile trades.

So to save you from having to fall in to this horrible high street fashion trap, I have concocted some tips, so you won't have to be a slave to the shopping centre ever again (p.s. peplum tops aren't a good idea, even if everyone says they are).

1) DON'T GET SEDUCED
Avoid items that you're unsure about, but you talk yourself in to buying because they're of the moment. 

2) DEVELOP YOUR OWN STYLE
Get to know your own style and tastes. Understand what suits you, and develop it. It may involve making some crappy fashion faux pas, (which may well end up being amazing) but that's part of it. This way you'll know which trends to pursue and which to ignore. 

3) INVEST, DON'T JUST BUY
If you're in to fashion, it's fun to observe what designers are doing and watch how trends develop across the seasons, but the high streets take on these changes is fickle and cheap, so if you really like a trend, invest in an item that will stand the test of time, not necessarily an expensive item, but one that could be interpreted in different ways. To elaborate, take the trend of Navajo (which seems to be going on forever?!) as example. Instead of buying an all over Navajo print dress which is pretty great now, but won't be in a year or two, buy a vest, shorts or accessory featuring Navajo embellishments that will be transformed in to a brand new look when this stubborn trend is finally put to bed.

4) CONSIDER WHICH BRANDS YOU BUY FROM
As an avid Ebayer (both seller and buyer) I have noticed certain brands always do well on Ebay. Two that instantly come to mind are Topshop and Urban Outfitters. In my experience, you can often make a profit on items from these brands if you sell them even second hand on Ebay. So, if you're in to Ebay, it would make sense to consider how sell-able an item will be when you buy it.

5) SIT BACK AND WAIT IT OUT
To be honest, most of these trends come and go so quickly that just turning a blind eye for a bit, when you're really broke, or can't be bothered with all the fussing, could be the solution. Another trend that you'll want to buy in to will be just around the corner anyway.

6) SWEET CHARITY
Charity shops are literally one of the best ideas ever, I think. They provide a place to unload your old high street mistakes and they supply people like me with a weird and wonderful selection of oddities and stuff. If in doubt, just visit a charity shop and find a few cheapo bits to refresh the items you already have. Thus giving money to charity, not fuelling this crazed high street consumer mess, and not spending as much cash.

7) BUY VINTAGE
Generally, clothes from 20 plus years ago are much better made and have stood the test of time. They are also extremely coveted by many. Therefore buying vintage can be seen as an investment. It's like that thing they say about cars and houses. Buying a car sucks your money, because it costs to keep it and it loses money with age. Buying a house is a financial asset, and it maintains/increases it's value over time.
Keep your vintage well, and you could end up making a profit from it when it's day with you is done.

Lastly, and to emphasise the importance of having your own sense of style...

Being inspired and influenced by high street/catwalk/street trends is good, but don't be a fashion puppet. I think it's important to develop your tastes and follow your instincts, without taking it all too seriously. Fashion is, after all, temporary. The beauty of it is it's ever evolving and shifting nature. So be an observer, not a slave. Having a strong sense of personal style is the key.


The End