How Celebrities Perpetuate Fast Fashion
3 years ago | Features|
Image: Gigi Hadid. Image source.
One of my favourite Instagram accounts right now is @magazine_fan, which chronicles the last 50 years in fashion publishing, sharing editorial images from 80s issues of Vogue Italia and 90s Helmut Newton photography alike. Interestingly, though, the account’s founder Rossana Tich believes that what her collection shows is just how little clothes have changed over the past half century. “If you look at a photo from 1985 and 2015 the clothes are not that different,” she explains. “It is the styling and photography that makes them so.” Which is an interesting point to make in the context of a fast fashion industry that churns out 52 micro-seasons per year. And it's a perspective that's got me thinking about fast fashion's homogenisation of style – and the role celebrities have to play in this process.
First of all, there is of course the matter of endorsement. Simply put, many celebrities are paid to endorse fast fashion brands. Which is particularly true of celebrities that are popular amongst young women – the likes of Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, for example. And with so many impressionable young girls now wanting to dress exactly like Kendall and Gigi, it is little wonder that their posts in support of ‘accessibly-priced’ fast fashion clothing tend to spur those very same girls to go out and buy their head-to-toe look. The sheer influence of celebrities such as these means that this is a ripple effect with a very wide reach.
When you think about the power of this influence, it leads to a secondary issue that's at play here. And this is the fact that a globalised entertainment industry has essentially narrowed our field of stylistic reference. When you think about fashion throughout the ages – as Tich does, comparing the far more marked gap between 1940s and 1970s fashion than what we see today – style was once much more tethered to place. There is a reason, for instance, that French women have historically been associated with Breton stripes, red lipstick and the colour black. In fact, many French style icons of the 1960s were also associated with these very same style codes. And it is no coincidence that the likes of Brigitte Bardot and Charlotte Rampling upheld such fashions – rather it was likely because of their endorsement that these modes of dress became so popular in the first place.
Today, though, we have lost the limitations of national borders and, in the process, our celebrity influences have also become far narrower. French women no longer want to dress just like the French style icon of the moment, but also like the American ones. And this is a domino effect that's taking place right across the globe. So instead of maintaining multifaceted style codes with roots in a particular geographical location, style today is largely dominated by the very few celebs who possess the largest followings – think the Kim Kardashians and Emily Ratajkowskis of the world. And just as women have always looked to their idols for style inspiration, so do they continue to do so – just on a much larger and far less geographically specific scale. The problem arises, however, when tens of thousands of women want to dress just like Kim Kardashian; resulting in the virtual obliteration of personal style.
This all works perfectly well for fast fashion giants too – many of which are global in scale and can turn over the latest Kim K inspired look in less time than their competitors. But it doesn’t work particularly well for the state of fashion in general, which is slowly losing its creativity all the time. Add to this the fact that most runway models are now considered celebrities in their own right and you only further complicate the problem. Because if major luxury fashion houses are influenced by the size of a model’s Instagram following when casting; then it means they are likely influenced by that individual’s style preferences when designing as well. And once the maisons lose their will to create for creativity’s sake, fast fashion has essentially won the battle to homogenise style.
After all, most people won’t fork out for a luxury price tag if they aren’t also getting the creative genius that should come with it. So, as we scroll through awesome Instagram accounts like @magazine_fan and @oneofakind.archive, it is important to remember that fashion once was (and still should be) considered an art form. And to recognise that fast fashion is attempting to strip it of this title. So rather than blindly following the style of one celebrity or another, we can all make more meaningful purchasing decisions if we simply decide to cultivate our own uniform instead and shop with personal values in mind. This may seem like a big adjustment in the short term, but it will improve both your style and the footprint of your wardrobe in the long run.
If you are interested in fighting the good fight against fast fashion, then you might also like to slow things down with some beautiful, handcrafted pieces just for you:
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