Faux Elitism

Fashion is global. Fashion, whether we think we care about it or not, is a significant part of our public identities and in an increasingly socialised world, it is no wonder people are becoming more self-aware about their own presentation.

Despite corporate high street shops existing in slightly smaller numbers (H&M, New Look, Zara are a few that come to mind), it is surprisingly difficult to walk into someone who may be dressed just like you. We live in a capitalist society in which clothes shops and markets dominate our high streets, yet it remains a mystery as to how many pieces of clothing we feel we need to own ourselves.

That’s why Fashion Week is so important to both designers and consumers. In an age where it’s cool to be different, we are constantly seeking easy ways to dress ourselves. Mimi Wade merges naturalistic imagery with kitsch school uniform with her blue cloud dress (see Editor’s Pick in LFW supplement), and Ashley Williams brings an influence of cowboy culture to make sportswear less serious.

Yet for many, fashion is considered an inaccessible industry; designer labels cater to the wealthy. When speaking to someone who is generally ignorant about fashion, GUCCI, Chanel, Louis Vuitton are the very few names that spring to mind. But many fail to believe that fashion is so much more diverse than this. Many designers this year incorporated trends that have been prominent throughout high street fashion. Most importantly, fashion is an industry that allows people to manifest their creativity through clothing. Essentially, it is an art that takes time and patience.

Yet, fashion is still considered elite – not everyone has the time and money to persue their passion after art school. Whilst LFW gives space to both young and older designers, it’s still an industry that many find difficult to integrate into. Researchers show that less than 25 per cent of Fashion graduates do not end up in the industry post-graduation.

Despite this, credit should be given to organisations that help to recognise new talent, bringing them to the forefront of the industry. NEWGEN is a scheme, funded by the British Fashion Council, devised in 1993, that offers emerging designers financial support and mentoring. Fashion East, a pioneering non-profit initiative established by the Old Truman Brewery in 2000, is another organisation that works similarly to NEWGEN, helping emerging young designers through “difficult early stages of their career”.

In addition, Fashion East also receive sponsorship from brands that we buy from.

Topshop, Topman and a pioneering non-profit initiative established by the Old Truman Brewery are two labels that fund sponsorship to Fashion East. Furthermore, £28bn is contributed to the UK economy from the UK fashion economy.

At LFW, 120 designers showcased in the Designer Showrooms at The Store Studios on the Strand. See Fashion is also a company whose mission is “to create a new era of fashion production where designers have the tools to grow and consumers have the power to set the latest trends”.

Behind these showcases lies a large team of make-up artists, models, hair stylists, runners, PR companies, as well as providing jobs to those behind organising the location of presentations, the people who aren’t part of fashion but help run it, the lighting and tech team etc.

Essentially, without designers and Fashion Week, we lose a large part of the consumerism in our society. It’s up to you to decide whether this is a good thing or not. High street labels need Fashion Week to inspire their brands, and most importantly, we need fashion as a continuing way to express ourselves.

Whether that’s investing in high designer labels, or using it to form your own style (see the charity shop shoot), before we undermine fashion, let’s think about what goes behind all of this.

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