In Defense of Fast Fashion: Why I'll Always Shop at H&M, Zara, and Forever 21
"What makes this red leather wallet so different from the red leather wallets at Forever 21?" my sister asked, as she turned my new Chloé Faye pouch over in her hands at the dinner table — and I silently prayed she didn't have any remnants of food on her fingers.
"Well, the quality of the leather, for one. And do you see how the chain's not quite silver but not quite gold? It's like a rose gold, and it's not going to tarnish — I'm obsessed!" I explained. She shrugged and handed back the wallet so I could delicately wrap it in the white slip of fabric that it came in — the one I still use to protect my new purchase when I'm carrying it around in my large tote bag.
You see, I appreciate the craftsmanship of a designer piece for all its worth — the logo, embroidery, or hardware that makes the fashion house it came from instantly recognizable. As I've gotten older, I've started to set aside a portion of my salary for luxury goods I really love or classic items I know I'll wear forever. But the truth is, the majority of my wardrobe is from Zara, H&M, and Forever 21. And without my favorite stores, I simply wouldn't be able to survive.
OK, that's a little extreme. I'd still be living and breathing, but I'd be missing out on a whole lot of shopping. And as a fashion girl, shopping is a big part of what makes me happy, gives me confidence, and motivates me to wake up and get dressed every day.
Recently, fashion editors have begun to question the speed of the industry. With Raf Simons, Alexander Wang, and Alber Elbaz departing their fashion houses — Dior, Balenciaga, and Lanvin, respectively — there's question as to why designers and brands have developed relationships that are only "Tinder-match short," as Véronique Hyland refers to them in The Cut.
It all boils down to pressure — to churn out six fresh collections a year, all of which must feel unique but also perfectly fit into a label's DNA. "You have no incubation time for ideas, and incubation time is very important," Raf Simons told The Cut.
Those ideas then trickle down to the quickly changing trends spotted at "fast-fashion" stores — the Targets and H&Ms of the world — where I so readily shop for clothes and where I can expect fresh, new pieces constantly.
I understand why designers are feeling "burnt out," perhaps even grasping for inspiration in a digital age where the rapid pace of social media drives consumerism at unprecedented speeds. Millennials move on to the next best thing before anyone can even identify what was so special about the trend, the cut, the pattern, or the silhouette in the first place.
Though I look forward to designers debuting their new lines each season — and I certainly wouldn't want any of them to "crash" — I'm going to continue to buy lower-priced pieces inspired by the high-fashion looks I love so much, even though I'm pulling my money out of a red-hot Chloé wallet. Read on for six reasons I believe fast fashion is a necessity, even though I will always support luxury designers, too.