Twenty years ago, the high street was a very different place. The most important thing for retailers hoping to lure customers back time and time again was quality. And this was easier to achieve because there were only four seasons to cater to, or two if you simply dressed for the warm and cold weather and ignored the transitional seasons. Now, the high street is online, we have 52+ seasons and keeping up with fashion requires a sprint just to stay in place.
The fast fashion retailers like BooHoo and Pretty Little Thing have climbed to the top of the stacks by offering the latest fashion for the lowest price. But have we finally reached peak fast fashion? From the increase in the consumer’s ethical awareness to the rise of independent designers blazing their own fashion trails, the bubble could be set to burst on fast fashion.
The saying goes that you can’t afford to be cheap, and the fashion-conscious are finally waking up to the possibility that their sartorial choices can be fashionable, affordable and high quality. The independent fashion retailers have several advantages over their cumbersome high street counterparts.
By selling online, not only are they going to their audience, who are spending more and more time on mobile devices, but they also avoid the overheads associated with running a bricks and mortar operation. Budget goes into staging elaborate photo shoots, launch parties, marketing and reaching their audience rather than paying excess staff or renting premises.
An important distinction to make when we talk about independent brands is between the boutique owners selling their curated selection of clothing and the actual brands working to establish their own aesthetic. The former offers wholesale tat at a marked up price, while the latter is able to provide a quality product and keep the price mark within reach.
Add in the free promotion from their numerous celebrity friends and you’ve got a recipe for success. And these independent brands aren’t exactly calling in any favours as the relationship is mutually beneficial. In an increasingly visual world, famous faces are looking for new ways to stand out and express their personalities. And what better way to do this than being the unofficial face of an independent fashion retailer?
Independent brands are able to navigate the pressure of being seen as luxury and on-trend by simply dictating their own trends, meaning there’s a niche independent brand for everyone. Whether you’re looking for the latest trends, like the white bomber jacket, or your taste is altogether more traditional and normcore, brands like BOY London and Community Clothing understand their target audience and cater to them perfectly.
This isn’t even taking into consideration the increasing awareness among consumers about the origins of their clothing. As more and more people reject the idea that exploiting cheap labour in order to make cheap clothes is acceptable, the independent labels are able to pick up those people looking for something unique and ethical. And thankfully, ethical clothing these days is a far cry from the hemp threads and ponchos found at festival clothing stalls.