Fashion: High street vs high-end

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Humanity Hallows Issue 5 Out Now
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By Louis Hall Dunleavy

We are all guilty of dreaming about that pair of Tom Ford shoes or fantasising about that Burberry trench. However, as students on a budget, we usually find ourselves at the mercy of high street giants, who for some reason still can’t seem to mirror the work of the fashion elite.

No matter how hard they try to embroider a pair of jeans and emulate the success of Alessandro Michele’s latest Gucci phenomenon, shoppers can’t help but smell the buyer behind the £29.99 H&M version, trying to squeeze a margin out of the latest trickle-down trend from the catwalks of Milan.

In no way am I brand snob; in fact I’m quite the opposite. I would be lying if I said I don’t have any designer pieces in my wardrobe. I am a fashion student at heart and, true to my nature, I’d love to be able to buy a Saint Laurent shirt. That being said, I do make frequent pilgrimages to a select few high street retailers, the flavour of the month for me at the minute being Zara

Zara: the Spanish super power owned by a  Spanish super power. I used to loathe the fast fashion retailer but, recently, I’m seeing some nice pieces at the store. In fact, within the last two weeks, I have visited twice and, on both occasions, I’ve walked out with a very depleted student loan. Perhaps they have finally realised that, if they mirror the catwalks with style, they also have to mirror the quality! I once returned a coat four times as seams fell apart, the material bobbled and, with a hefty price of £109.99, you wouldn’t expect it. That being said, Zara’s problem with quality seems to have passed as the pieces I picked up later have stayed intact and I actually really like them.

I often ask myself, can you achieve the prestige designer look without paying the prestige designer price? I recently watched a video by the blogger Gallucks where he attempted to take his top designer picks of the week and find a high street alternative. Whilst some of the cheaper alternatives where okay, they just did not compare to the real thing.

So in short no, you can’t. Or, at least, not yet. No matter how hard they try, it’s just impossible for the high street to deliver the same quality, design and fabrics that the French houses can. Sorry Topshop, the Gucci snakes belong to Gucci! However, do not be deterred as, rather than copy the catwalks, I urge retailers to take inspiration but make it their own. I often cringe when I see retailers blatantly plagiarising high end designer looks, with the worst being Zara’s response to Yeezy. But it would be nice to see some originality in the market and even nicer to see a high street retailer build their own aesthetic.

At the end of the day, fashion is all about the person who is wearing it. If you were Rihanna, you’d likely look good in a bin bag. Even if the bin bag is from ALDI!!

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