Friday, August 24, 2007

Fashion Issues: Can Fast Fashion Go The Distance?

Many of us dream of the day we can afford to buy the latest Gucci dress or a Chanel handbag. But these days we only have to walk into Primark to see an almost exact replica hanging in front of us.

The trend for catwalk to high street ‘fast fashion’ has exploded in the UK over the past few years but recently questions have been asked about much longer it will last.

Discount retailers such as Primark and Matalan have expanded rapidly throughout the country and specialise in getting the latest designer looks into their stores within weeks of them hitting the catwalk. This encourages women to update their wardrobes more frequently- with dresses being sold for as little as £8 most have no reason not to.

Celebrity endorsement of these shops, both through advertising and a top name being snapped out and about in a dress from Peacocks only further encourages shoppers as they can now afford to look like their favourite stars. Newsagents are crammed with magazines telling us how we can achieve designer looks on the high street at a fraction of the price.

In 2007 a massive £18.9 billion was spent by the British public in the womenswear sector of the market.

In the past ten years sales of discount clothing have risen dramatically, now making up nearly a quarter of all sales in the clothing sector. BHS, House of Fraser and C&A have been replaced by Primark, TK Maxx and the Peacocks group in the top 10 womenswear retailers.

Although Marks and Spencer, Next and the Arcadia group are still the major players discount retailers are hot on their heels, creating massive competition.

Primark in particular has enjoyed major success and a near to iconic status. They have just opened a huge new flagship store on Oxford Street in London. Their minimal prices and speed at replicating looks means they are now the fourth biggest womenswear retailer in the UK.

Another growing sector is sale of fashionable, affordable clothing in major supermarkets. Tesco PLC and Asda Group Ltd lead the way. Shoppers are encouraged to update their look after buying their groceries at minimum cost.

Popular WAG Colleen McClouglin’s advertising campaign with George at Asda has made the brand even more popular and makes the clothing appear trendy and cool to consumers.

It seems these discount retailers can do no wrong. However, they are facing some serious opposition. There have been investigations into how they can continue to produce clothing sold at such low prices.

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