High-street fashion retailers are whipping up runway replicas, faster than ever, with a much more appealing, and affordable price tag. With high fashion designers setting the standards and trends in the fashion world, some could say that it is inevitable that high-street chains will draw inspiration from them, but have fast-fashion retailers taken it too far, and lost all sense originality?
Fashion week is a massive opportunity enabling retailers and insiders of the fashion industry to get inspiration for the season approaching.
Before the rise in technology, fashion week was only accessible to the likes of editors and buyers, but with the mass-use of social media anyone can have access to see the influence behind the clothes they’ll be sporting next season.
In 2016, fast-fashion retailer Zara was in question for copying a range of designer Tuesday Bassen’s illustration designs. The items under scrutiny included a range of patches and badges, with an uncanny likeliness to those that Zara were using on their products.
As well at this, in September last year Primark was criticised for stocking studded heeled shoes, that were almost identical to Valentino’s, but definitely not an identical price tag!
Other high-end designers like Burberry often have their statement pieces of clothing such as the ‘trench coat’ modified into similar, cheaper versions sold in stores like John Lewis.
The rapid translation of catwalk designs in a cheap and quick manner mean that fast-fashion retailers can produce luxury designer replicas, and sell them for a small portion of the original price. This makes them ideal for mass-market production, and in turn makes the high-street sector boom, economically.
The main reason why runway fashion imitation happens is because the consumers of today have come to expect everything to be instant, which stems from society’s need of instant gratification.
Modern consumers no longer want to wait six months for catwalk fashion to be turned around and modified for shop floor. More noticeably, people don’t want to pay luxury prices.
Designer knock-offs that are nearly identical to the originals, weaken luxury brand’s equity, and make their products less desirable, because similar products are so easy to access and purchase.
In 2012 Jewellery designer Pamela Love said:
“Being copied by fast fashion designers really waters everything down. It makes our ideas less special, which ultimately hurts our business and our authenticity”.
Is this imitation culture damaging designer brands? Or does it in fact keep the wheels of the fashion industry turning?
Text: Chloe Humphries
Images: harpersbazaar.com, Business Insider, dazeddigital.com, Instagram, mirror.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk, Net-a-Porter