Stored and Adored

Dedicated to Designer and Pre-Loved Bags

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Is Fast Fashion Bad? And is it Better to Buy Designer "Dupes" or Pre-Loved Bags?

stored and adored bag blog: designer dupes vs pre loved bags
photo by Maria Morri via flickr / CC BY / edited: resized, sharper, brighter

Thanks to the fast fashion industry - championed by companies like Zara, Topshop, H&M and Forever 21 - designer "dupes" are appearing faster than ever in our highstreet stores. One week you'll spot a trend emerge on the runway, and the next you'll be able to buy an affordable version which may seem a little bit more than "inspired by" the original designer creation. Although the practice of designers copying from one another is anything but new, fast fashion has changed the face of our high streets and the expectations of shoppers. Consumers now now expect to be able to buy into designer trends, at highstreet prices and quickly too. Although designer "dupes" are created with the intention of replicating trends, they can also bring with them their own noteworthy creative flair. In so doing, fast fashion can, ironically, work to sustain, and even revive, trends that would otherwise only enjoy half of their current shelf-life. 

Is fast fashion "good" or "bad", and should we be buying these designer "dupes" that highstreet stores churn out each season? Or is it better to invest in pre-loved designer equivalents?

storedandadored bag blog: pre loved bags vs designer dupes
photo by Maria Morri via flickr / CC BY / edited: cropped, resized, sharper, brighter

I recently watched Johanna Blakely's Ted Talk, titled "Lessons from Fashion's Free Culture". In her talk, Blakely outlines some very important points.vBlakely emphasises that fast fashion's designer "dupes" are participating in a long history of fashion designers copying one another, because luxury fashion houses have been "riffing" off one another long before the likes of Zara and H&M started doing it. Indeed, fashion designs cannot actually be copyrighted because they are considered to be "too utilitarian". As long as designer labels aren't replicated then fashion copies generally aren't breaking any laws; this is the important difference between buying a fake and a "dupe" or "knock-off". However, Blakely argues that this lack of copyright encourages fashion innovation. In order to stay ahead of fast fashion copies, luxury fashion designers have to work harder to create new designs that can't be copied at budget highstreet prices. Blakely believes that this leads directly to greater experimentation of design and the use of more innovative materials; with designers looking to elevate their "utilitarian" clothing closer to what we might consider to be art. 

Blakely does acknowledge that fast fashion isn't all good, but her arguments in favour of fast fashion are pretty convincing. Copying isn't a new trend in the fashion industry, and it can actually push fashion design great new heights.

I don't see anything wrong with buying designer dupes, and I admit that I've been won over by fast fashion's promise of great design at affordable prices. However, I am an advocate of pre-loved designer bags over these highstreet "dupe" alternatives and this is because, as the owner of designer handbags, my experiences with designer bag "dupes" have ultimately always been disappointing.

My best personal example comes in the form of Gucci's Soft Stirrup Bag; I first bought a designer dupe from Zara for approximately £80, before investing a little bit more in a real pre-loved version (a total of £145). When I first bought it, I truly adored my Zara dupe, especially as this handbag design had been out of production by Gucci for a few years which meant that it was really difficult to purchase the real designer equivalent. However, the quality of the suede meant it would never wear very well and the slightly oversized design wasn't as practical as I'd hoped. Once I bought my real Gucci Soft Stirrup Bag, I stopped carrying my Zara bag and realised that it had merely been a placeholder until I was able to get my hands on the real thing.

I don't always believe that "you get what you pay for" with designer brands, as they do often trade on the weight of their brand names and charge unbelievable prices. Nevertheless, there is often a huge difference in quality between genuine designer products and fast fashion dupes; with designer items you can expect better materials with more detailed and careful workmanship, often leading to a longer lifespan. I do believe that copies/dupes of designer bags serve a place within our society, and I like that fashion and trends are now more accessible to everyone. I understand that not everyone would want, or could afford, to replace their Zara dupe with its designer counterpart, especially if they're trying to keep up with the fast-paced world of designer trends. Nonetheless, for me personally, when I buy into designer pieces I'm concerned with their re-sale value. Compared to pre-loved designer bags, highstreet dupes have no real re-sale potential, so whilst I might admire them on the shelves I've lost all interest in purchasing them.

When you buy a pre-loved designer piece you are undeniably making an investment, but it's a lot like renting your bag - at the end of your love-affair you can sell-up and get your deposit back, minus the cost of wear and tear. In comparison, when you purchase a designer dupe you've essentially sunk your money into an asset where you can't get much (or any) of your investment back.

stored and adored bag blog: pre loved bags vs designer dupes
photo by La Fanciulle via flickr / CC BY 

So, is fast fashion "bad"? No, I don't think so, not in terms of the relationship between luxury and high street stores, although I do think that there are big problems when it comes to smaller independent designers and artists getting ripped off by big corporations - but that's another blog post in itself! Fast fashion fosters a fashion democracry, where normal people, including myself, who can't spend thousands of pounds on their wardrobe are still able to buy in to designer trends. Indeed, fast fashion can even push these trends to new heights and might well be provoking some of the most innovative and forward-thinking designer fashion.

Should you buy designer bag dupes or pre-loved designer bags? I think that in everyone's wardrobe there is probably a place for both. Designer dupes allow us to experiment with styles and trends, helping us to better understand where we should invest our money. As with fast fashion, designer dupes make fashion more accessible and I don't think that that's a bad thing. However, if you're looking to make smart long-er term investments in your wardrobe then I strongly believe that pre-loved designer bags have more to offer. Pre-loved designer often represent better value for money long-term and come with all the quality benefits of buying a brand-new designer bag.

It's also worth considering the environmental impact of purchasing pre-loved bags over fast fashion equivalents. I've talked more about this topic in my earlier blog post, "Is Pre-Loved Fashion the More Sustainable Choice? #30wears".

What are your thoughts on this complicated topic? 
I'd love to hear from you in the comments!


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