Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fast Fashion Terminology

fast fashion, ethics, zara, forever 21, nasty gal, designer imitation, knock off, knock offs, chanel, celine, moschino
Fast fashion is a familiar term for anyone who is even slightly involved in the fashion industry. Forever 21, Zara, and Nasty Gal have come to great fame with their products that look incredibly similar (read: practically identical) to those strutting down the runway each season. Though I plan to one day delve into the ethics and intricacies of fast fashion, I've decided to first confront the terminology tied to the fast fashion industry. In order to understanding the real depths of fast fashion vs designer goods/haute couture one must first understand the basic terms used within the fast fashion community.

For instance, the phrase turn around time. The term"turn around time" means the time in which it takes a brand or company to put a product in stores and on shelves from it's inception. The term itself is used in just about every sect of retail, but what's important is the specific turn around times of fast fashion companies and why they continue to get shorter and shorter. Over the summer, Fashionista.com wrote an article about a fast fashion company that boasted a turn around time of 2 weeks for a particular designer collection. When you think of the advancements of factories and assembly lines plus speedy airmail and priority stocking 2 weeks doesn't sound all that short. But when you compare it to the runway collection it is an almost identical copy of that took months to curate it makes you wonder a little about the inner workings and ethics of fast fashion.

Another example is the term "catwalk to sidewalk." A popular phrase among magazines, it's used to portray a runway styled outfit in a way that is suitable for every day wear. Initially this term can be seen as a catchy title for a feature or article giving you outfit ideas for styling runway pieces into you wardrobe on a regular bases. But look closer... In 95% of these features and articles not a single designer piece is pictured "on the sidewalk." Like I said before, the fast fashion pieces are almost a carbon copy of the designer runway looks so when you see a picture taken from the front row of New York Fashion Week side-by-side a picture of a happy-go-luck 20-something year old model in a Zara skirt and Forever 21 top it's easy to become numb to the fact that the two outfits are very, VERY different. Different in regards to their quality, price, inspiration, detail, labor, and obviously ethics.

Last but not least is the age old debate between inspiration and imitation. I'm not going to pull out an old Webster for this one because I truly believe the term "inspiration" means different things to different people. Some can be "inspired" by an outfit and try to recreate it with the items in their closet; others can be inspired by birds and decide to wear clothes that are free spirited and relaxed. Inspiration manifests in dozens of mediums and there is no way I could try and box them all into one definition. However, we can all agree on the meaning of imitation. Imitation leather, imitation crab, imitation [insert item of your choice that is NOT quite another particular item, but is used as a direct substitution and made to be identical to the original item as much as possible]. I am regularly inspired by runway looks and designer collections, there's no doubt about that. But the importance lies within your understanding of imitation. Is what you're buying truly inspired by said designer or is it imitating it. There are fast fashion pieces that are inspired by designers, but there are also fast fashion pieces that imitate them. Simply put: know what you're buying and what "inspired" it. Informed shopping is THE best way to shop.

Photo from We Heart It