The Problem With That Viral Zara Dress

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 4 months ago | News

Image: via @hot4thespot. Image source.

You’ve probably heard about that Zara dress. So viral has it become over the past few months, that it has been difficult to avoid across the Internet. And while we’re pleased to see people moving away from a fear of outfit repeating, there is an inherent problem with viral items like this: they perpetuate fast fashion.

Armed with big marketing budgets and the big teams to match, fast fashion retailers are uniquely positioned to trick us into buying things. And creating hype around particular products is just one of those tricks.

Usually, when traced back to their source, viral garments like Zara’s white maxi dress with black spots can be linked with particular influencer or social media strategies. As Sarah Owen, a senior editor at trend forecasting company WGSN says, "viral fashion is sometimes less to do with the style or aesthetic and more to do with the catalyst or instigator". In the case of this Zara dress (which retails for £39.99), the instigator was an Instagram account called @hot4thespot, started by fashion stylist Faye Oakenfull in April.

Posting images of two co-workers wearing the dress, Oakenfull quickly gathered crowd-sourced images of other women wearing the dress – and the spark was ignited. Now growing at a rapid rate, the Instagram account continues to fuel the dress’ popularity and has been supported by high-profile press coverage from the likes of Refinery 29, Vice and the New York Times.

"Many people like to be part of the crowd, like to wear or have what other people wear or have," suggests Dr Joan Harvey, a chartered psychologist and senior lecturer at Newcastle University. And Professor Carolyn Mair PhD, consultant at agrees: "We don’t like to feel we’re missing out… The more we see an object, or type of object, the more it becomes the norm.”

Sarah Owen concludes that "social media – especially Instagram – is the reason why designs go viral.” But the problem with this is that these viral trends fuel a fast fashion culture; one where trends rise quickly and then fall just as fast. “At the moment we have a problem that clothing is being seen as very disposable and short term," warns Harvey

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