In the age of see now, buy now, how does one keep up with the speed of fashion?
It’s just too fast, honestly. With the advent of the digital revolution, there’s no sign of it slowing down any time soon. We are now at an age where we find ourselves absent-mindedly swiping up on our feed to see the newest thing— essentially representing the mindset we all inevitably subscribe to asking, “What’s next? Who’s next? What’s the latest thing we should have?”
The current speed of fashion affects high-end designers as much as it affects high street brands. Creativity is consequently compromised as the fast and unending cycle exhausts the designers with their targets to meet. Take Raf Simons for example, during his much talked about exit from the house of Dior he mentioned, “When you do six shows a year, there’s not enough time for the whole process.” In case you’re wondering, that’s haute couture for January, ready-to- wear for March, cruise collection for May, haute couture for July, ready-to-wear for September, and resort for November. It is exhausting to even just think about it, let alone actually produce it on time.
It is vicious; giving designers a short period to work for pre-seasons, couture collections, and everything else in between. This entails that the pieces should look good on social media, appeal to the current aesthetic grounded in street style, and be delivered fast to this increasingly digital market that demands nothing less than instant gratification. This is evident in the current roundup of offerings from Dior to Gucci, to Tommy Hilfiger to Erdem x H&M and the movement of “see now, buy now” where the runway pieces are immediately shoppable. All these are antithetic to the concept of luxury associated with designer houses, grounded by their rich heritage. Is fast fashion destroying tradition as it pushes for wearable trends?
With more and more customers demanding looks that are at once luxe and affordable, more are producing more clothing to deliver what the market wants.
The continuous acceleration of fast fashion is not without grave consequences. Fashion is often cited as one of the top polluting industries, mostly from its raw material production. The low price and the pace has a compounding effect on waste as well, affecting consumers’ perceptions of clothing as an easily disposable good.
However, there are a growing number of apparel companies that are committing to becoming fully sustainable. H&M has long been an advocate of sustainable fashion with their eco-friendly Conscious collection and global garment collection scheme, while Marks & Spencer and Topshop push for transparency as they publish statistics of their sustainability targets online. While undoubtedly, some of the movements are a response to cater to consumers’ sustainable preferences, what’s important is that there is a shift in the status quo.
So what can you do on your part?
Vivienne Westwood, known for her bold statements both in her clothing designs and her personal beliefs, offers a surprising and sage advice, telling us consumers to “don’t buy anything.” A bit extreme, but Westwood has always championed her “buy less, choose better, and make it last” mantra, pointing out that doing so will ultimately lead to designers to make better fashion that isn’t just driven by commerce and marketing.
Better fashion ultimately means sustainability. More than a big word often used by companies to highlight being ethically responsible in their business, sustainability in fashion is a transformative vision that encompasses the production of clothing and our patterns of consumption with careful consideration of the environmental and socio-economic effects.
The more we learn about sustainability, the more we realize how little we know of it. It often seems such an intimidating and exclusive a concept, but in reality, sustainability should simply be something that works for your lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be monumental; just an initiative on our part will go a long way. It may be as small as re-wearing your clothes, being actively conscious when shopping, or looking into local handmade artisans.
Trends come and go, and so will fashion—and consequently our resources— if we don’t keep up with it.