Zara’s fast fashion ideology vs. vintage clothing becoming a mainstream product

The fast fashion industry is growing incredibly fast and finds new followers every day. Wearing fashionable clothes and always keeping up with the latest runway trends have become as normal as having a cup of coffee in the morning. We experienced this change more intensely than ever in our modern-day society in the past ten years.

Before that time fashion played in important role,too,but nowadays we are absorbing fashion in a different way,giving more meaning and space to it. With fashion and style we express our personality and creativity.

Just take a look at all the fashion events that are taking place day in day out. Fashion week twice a year in the most vibrant metropolises around the globe, New York,Paris,Milan,London and Berlin which make every fashionista’s heart beat faster. While models,celebrities,fashion journalists and all other sorts of people that enrich our world of fashion try to spruce up  and stand out with unconventional designs, fashion bloggers have a hunt on them.

However, it is not all about fashion shows and runway looks. There is another world to be discovered,the world of street styles. In fact, it’s nothing new of course, but yet inspiring enough to be mentioned.

Street styles can go into various directions depending on the environment and the subculture. In many cases,street styles are inspired by the great designers or at least have a slight high fashion touch that is brought to another level.

Summing it up, we have to streams that do not differ that much from each other and at least they have one thing in common. They are both becoming mainstream phenomena.

Zara realizes its full potential in fast fashion and thereby is immensely successful.It is exactly like fast food, it’s easy,cheap and addictive. Zara makes luxurious clothing available for everyone,so that we can feel like wearing real designer clothes and setting trends.

With new items every week, we tend to buy more and more and forget about the previously purchased clothes because there are already new ones and since everybody wants a slice of the action, the community of fast fashion consumers is expanding.

Even celebrities show us how fashionable one can be with clothes from Zara or any other similar retail chain. The American socialite, model and actress Olivia Palermo is often spotted at official events wearing brands like Zara,Asos or Topshop. These creations shade into the designs of Marc Jacobs,Phillip Lim or Rodarte.

So where is this all leading to? What is the next step?

Vintage fashion runs parallel to fast fashion and started more or less at the same time. Initially it was an alternative to mass consumerism and not comparable to fast fashion in any way. Vintage clothes don’t follow the trends that are preset in advance by designers, they are from a different time, not available in droves and therefore a rarity, they usually have a great quality; so all in all it’s just different from anybody else.

Ok, now wait a minute. Vintage clothes are not available in droves! Well, that reminds me of what fast fashion retail chains like Zara preach. Isn’t a scarce supply part of their marketing strategy? Yes, definitely. How quickly we found a similarity?!

The other thing is that there are more and more people that buy vintage clothes and want to live an alternative lifestyle. And where does it all end up? Exactly, in mainstream.

It began with unknown second-hand shops that sold clothes from all decades of the 20th century and only a few people knew where to find those. Over time more consumers got into the spirit of vintage fashion which got more expensive. Prices skyrocketed due to a big demand. Actually one can make good money with it since most of the items are over expensive. That can be easily noticed at the Mauerpark flea market in Berlin that attracts lots of tourists each year and is called a hot spot in every travel guide(Bernauerstraße 63-64). Berlin has developed a large vintage community with shops like Made in Berlin( Neue Schönhauser Straße 19) and Stiefelkombinat( Eberswalder Straße 22).Vintage clothing has become so popular that the American company Urban Outfitters has an own section for it in their stores.

Vintage fashion isn’t one-dimensional, it’s rather well-rounded. Some have an overall vintage lifestyle, so not only the clothes are vintage but also the furniture of their flat and the car.Others prefer to buy one vintage item and to combine it with current trends. Celebrities or models often do that and we can admire and keep track of them in street style and fashion blogs.

The fluffy oversize pullover with beads on it from the 80s or the black-and-white polka dot dress from the 60s can be as vintage as your Pucci purse or your Balenciaga bag from last season. There are no limits. The fashion of today will be vintage in the future.

But how long can we continue like this? What will be the next generation of fashion?

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7 Responses to Zara’s fast fashion ideology vs. vintage clothing becoming a mainstream product

  1. lilmeu says:

    Very interesting blog; especially the linkage between Vintage fashion and the fast fashion strategy! I´ve already heard about the Mauerpark market and I think it would be very inspiring, although I never was there 🙂

  2. Mai says:

    Your blog post is really interesting, thank you! In fact I never realized that vintage clothing was so “trendy” these days until I read your post. You are right, when I go out on the street, especially when I go out in Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg or Kreuzberg, everybody seems to follow this trend of vintage clothing. Why do they like it? As you mentioned in your post, because they want to express themselves, they want to be different. And eventually it is mainstream again. In fact, I believe it’s only a trend and eventually be followed by another trend. That’s the way fashion works 😉
    To give you an answer to your question from my perspective, I kind of agree with you. Fashion does repeat itself all the time. And since we are more and more a consumption population that is influenced by media, this won’t change so quickly. I personally think that fashion is overstated nowadays. In the past there was no fashion but clothing, and that was it. Nowadays fashion is a status symbol, what you wear shows where you are socially. Fashion is involved in Aids campaigns, associated with music etc. To a certain extent it’s fine, but it should not cross the line.

    • mirkalilka says:

      Probably you are right when saying that the trend of mass consumption won’t change in the foreseeable future. Still I think that we need a fundamental change, not only because we could save a lot of money and value our clothes like all the other generations did before but also because it is environmentally friendly. If we continue to live extravagantly ,where will we get in the end? Selling clothes that are made of organic cotton or introducing a “conscious collection” that is supposed to save water and energy in the production process is just another marketing strategy to improve one’s image and a mere drop in the ocean at the same time.

      And yes, fashion is definitely overstated nowadays. Everybody is into fashion. Everybody wants to become a model, go to Fashion Week, create a fashion blog, buy designer clothes… It has become a mainstream phenomenon, but we only see the glamour and not the downside. Models are getting younger…the topic is just huge!
      Maybe it is time for a new era?

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