Walking into a Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent or Chanel store can feel like walking into a museum. Sure, it’s still shopping, but that sequined evening dress with a waist-line frill just acquired a price tag comparable to an oil painting you’d see hung up in an art exhibit.
This summer I had experience working with some of the leaders of the clothing industry at a fashion magazine in Philadelphia. Being immersed in this world of designer style meant that I became acquainted with the ways of thinking that have sustained our society’s continued fascination in fashion houses while still abhorring their price tag.
Of course, everyone has a different relationship with clothing. Some of us have wardrobes that are mostly full of second-hand, sustainable style while others have a more run of the mill mall rat aesthetic. Some of us have wardrobes that are so new that you’re already wearing this fall’s latest trends and some are so vintage that bell-bottoms and flower power vests are still the go-to. Some of us don’t think too much about fashion at all.
Clothing is one of the most common ways people express and present themselves, and designer brands present an arguably more artistic and authentic way of expression
For example, designers like Hermès and Versace are set apart from fast fashion boutiques like Forever 21 and H&M because designer brands have a constant message they embody through their clothing while fast fashion brands seek to profit off of fleeting trends.
GRAPHIC BY CAROLINE POLICH
There is much more artistic merit and tradition that goes into creating designer brands. Experts are meticulously working to craft silhouettes and patterns that don’t echo today’s fashion trends but rather set the style of tomorrow. These designs are nuanced and help to reinvent the brand while not straying from the message that makes the style unique.
My one bit of advice for investing in a designer brand: pick your power piece wisely.
With any clothing brand, there are pieces that are worth the money and those that are not. Stick to your guns and really think about the brand you’re investing in. Even within brands, pick pieces that represent the artistic voice of a designer house and not just showcase their logo on a belt or pair of flip flops (I’m looking at you Gucci). Stick with a jacket, a pair of pants or a pair of durable shoes that not only speak to you but are also representative of the elegance or eccentricity of a brand.
Next time you go clothes shopping, think better about the pieces you’re buying. Obviously not everybody has the money to be buying a one thousand dollar shirt, but everyone can think of the clothing they buy as an investment. Explore brands. See what speaks to you. Put your money into products you believe in whether it’s a pattern, a company’s ethical production or a clothing line’s vegan composition.
Andrew is a sophomore English major.