Well it’s not just fast fashion we’re talking about, its every other retailers out there from Ann Taylor Loft to Hollister. Throw in any mall-based retailer, department store or big-box giant and you got cookie-cutter, template based apparel at your finger tips! A fashionista living in Tempe, Arizona is getting the same exact inventory as someone in Atlanta, Newark, Pittsburg or chattanooga, Tennessee. The web has also increased a diva’s chances of running into someone with the same, exact item. 80% of the population has internet connectivity and majority of the apparel manufacturers have an on-line presence, so what isn’t readily available in someone’s state can be bought with a mouse-click. Yeah, even if you live in Johnsonville, South Carolina you still have access to that Zac Posen for Target collection.
Surely, as we all know this has strengthen the used and vintage markets. In a quest to differentiate one look from the masses or to be able to wear a unique item without having to go the designer route (which very few consumers can do and keep their bank accounts in the black) the vintage / used thrift market (or charity shops as they call them in the UK) have exploded. Now I understand the rational behind it all, believe me I do. You can find unique clothing from another era that includes perhaps scoring a vintage designer piece at a very reasonable price and the best part about it – you clearly won’t see anybody else rocking your look! Let me do a sidebar here for a moment. I use to purchase vintage garments myself many years ago before it was popular….. but NOW I just can’t bring myself to purchase clothing that someone else has worn and I don’t know the “history” of that garment. Did this item belong to a dead person? What kind of person owned this item, especially if it’s a true vintage piece. Just bad karma to me to possess the clothing and shoes of another person you don’t know anything about, including what I deem as personal items like jewelry. Hey, but that’s my own hang-up. I’m sure am not the only person who feels like that, so those that do, we hit the mall – knowing the outcome.
So if you purchase the same silk, indigno blue shirtdress you thought was so perfect at Banana Republic, only to see the lady who works in accounting rocking the same dress, how do you make it your own?
We can all take a cue from the Uniform Project. If you are not familiar with this website it’s a grassroots, fundraising efforts by a very ingenious and creative young woman to provide students in India with uniforms and educational supplies who come from impoverished families. She takes a basic tunic dress and re-mixes it for 1 year with vests, camis, half tops and skirts, accessories, tights and funky vintage shoes. I was completely blown away with all of the looks she was able to create in a calendar year through 4 seasons with one dress – now that’s raw talent! She takes redefining a garment to a whole new level and puts all those fashion mag stylist to shame! Not overlooking or minimizing the wonderful cause she was committed to, this website is a great resource for learning how to really personalize and rework a mass produced garment.
If you sew or are handy with a needle & thread. You can always customize your piece with notions such as buttons, ribbons, tassels, crests, etc. or add / rework extra fabric to your store bought piece. Anyone who visits this blog knows I do this on occasion. I really love to rework my clothing and should do it more often. It really makes your garment unique when you add your own personal details to it with a little d.i.y. project. I strongly encourage anyone who doesn’t know how to sew – to learn because it is a valuable skill that is being lost with each passing generation. It can also save you a ton of money if you don’t have to pay an alteration shop to do the work for you, which can get pretty expensive depending on what you want done.
Layering is also a great way to reinvent or restyle a mass produced item so that it more uniquely your own. You do however, have to take into account your body type, weight and height. I personal don’t do this because I’m very short and I don’t like the idea of adding extra layers of clothing because it can overwhelm me quickly and then it looks like the outfit is wearing me and not the other way around. Layering is tricky, my suggestion is to not pile clothings on just to pile them on. Have a really keen eye and stay focused on the look you are trying to achieve. Layering if done right, can add so much personality and style and make your outfit look like no other!
Fast fashion and the way that clothing is currently manufactured and distributed is not going to change, expect to see more retailer get into the game. Those who shop the malls like me but still want to retain some form of uniqueness in a sea of duplication, can incorporate some of the creative options I mentioned above. Using creative techniques to personalize your fashionable goods can also work for shoes and other accessories as well. Etsy.com is a great place to purchase unique items that you can use to enhance your shoes and as well as purchasing hand-made statement pieces like jewelry and belts to make that off-the-rack piece look like one-of-a-kind!
Article written by Budget Chic © All Rights Reserved 2010. Written permission to republish in any form is required from author.
I'm a 50 year old hard working mom (now empty nester) that loves fashion, but my purse strings ain't so flexible! My 24 year old son is college graduate and living his own life, so I got some time on my hands *wink* Now that you got the 5 second rundown; pull up a chair, get that Latte and browse around.
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