I L-O-V-E Zara. Big time. In my first year at university, crying down the phone to my mum, it was quickly established that I was scanning the rails in the high street chain, student loan in hand. The bright lit space holds the promise of a new purchase and a short lived high. But after being called out for counterfeiting on several occasions, in 'filtering' down the latest collections has the high street become all just one big knock off that's detrimental to both creativity and the planet?
The originality and integrity of young designers and creatives has undeniably become a major topic of conversation over recent years, heralded by the brilliant commentary of infamous duo @dietprada, who playfully call out brands for crossing the line from inspired to rip off. High street stores unsurprisingly crop up, including Zara who faced a counterfeiting lawsuit in 2015. So, where does the consumer stand?
Barbara Grispini asserts that the general consumer doesn’t care about innovation, but who’s wearing what, a depressing thought for the future of quality and originality in ready-to-wear fashion. The consumer exacerbates the fast fashion machine by buying more new rather than keeping the old. The high street feeds this appetite whilst producing clothes made with cheap materials, such as polyester dyed with chemicals toxic to the planet, having a detrimental environmental impact. It's more, more, more. Now. VICE reported that '...the average person now buys 60 percent more items of clothing every year and keeps them for about half as long as they did 15 years ago.' Our relationship with the high street is not a healthy one.
Last week I made a half reluctant purchase into a current 'trend' piece, the millenial pink suit. I went for a fifty quid version from Zara, in lieu of one I saw whilst window shopping on Net-A-Porter. It's a lovely thing but nothing to be precious about. The pastel pink linen trousers I picked up alongside a mismatching dusty rose jacket exemplify the high street doing it's job perfectly. Not taking anyone's designs too literally, but interpreting the two pieces seen at Gucci SS18 or Dior Homme SS19. A Rejina Pyo ‘Greta’ dress is where I would consider taking the plunge money wise, a design iconic of the young brand, and with puffy milk maid sleeves and intricate stitching on a panelled waist, knocking it off is playing into a losing game. Rarely do high street pieces last for life, and the designs you find on a rail of viscose t-shirts and acrylic jumpers on the ground floor of H&M will have likely been 'inspired' by someone else. That being in the silhouette or colour, from Gucci to a largely powerless unknown creative.
So where does my relationship with Zara stand? I'm trying to have more patience in the way I shop, waiting to find and invest in quality. If money was no object or I could abstain from blindly throwing money at my wardrobe, I would like to think I could end it all and walk away. I've closed three different webpages and over two hundred tabs, and in a recent clear out, I took four bin bags of unwanted clothes to the charity shop. I felt wasteful and spoilt, and have vowed to only buy pieces I really do L-O-V-E, mixing old and new, high and fast fashion more efficiently.