Cat walk to high street
The term ‘High Street Fashion’ refers to designs that have been taken from the catwalk and copied by shops in UK high streets that are accessible to everyone. One reason why the high street is successful is the sheer speed with which it can ‘translate’ hot fashion trends. It makes cutting edge items available very quickly after the original has been shown. This process gets faster each season, as fast as three weeks. This is partly due to the ready availability of images in magazines and on the internet.
Although no one admits to direct copying, sneaking into shows for ‘inspiration’ or ‘research’ has been going on for many decades. This activity has often been cited as a form of spying in order to quickly make mass-produced copies of exclusive designs. Designers have realised that the sheer number of tricks used by retailers is so inventive and varied that it is very difficult to prevent. People have also become quite used to seeing cheaper versions of exclusive designs – and everyone likes the idea of paying less, even if the quality is shoddy or inferior.
If you can‘t beat them
join them Many designers have now decided that if they can’t beat the retailers, they‘ll join them. Some, like Vivian Westwood and Paul Smith open more of their own shops. Others, like Zandra Rhodes or Antoni and Alison, opt for showcasing limited ranges within selected shops and department stores.
Of the 165 brands showing at the recent London Fashion week, 93 had ready-to-wear ranges. High street fashion stores such as TopShop, Topman, Mango and Burton provide an affordable way to wear the latest catwalk trends without blowing an entire months wage.
Zandra Rhodes offers a TopShop range, Julian McDonald, a Boots range of candles and tights, for example. Now high profile individuals such as pop stars, models rival designers in their ability to set or influence trends, cutting-edge fashion is less a concession to popular demand and more about clever marketing and profile raising.