Despite my judgement of high fashion (and therefore generally expensive) clothes on my blog, about 80% of my wardrobe is second-hand from Goodwill stores. It's the ultimate balance: cheap but good quality. (I dress better and pay less than if I shopped at normal stores.) Plus, it keeps me away from the vicious lures of trends and guides me to a more classic style. I have to search and sift to achieve a look instead of just having one thrown at me.
On my most recent trip to my local Goodwill, I was pleasantly surprised by three racks labelled with signs stating that those clothes were from the Net-a-Portêr warehouse located nearby. You can only imagine how the heart of a high fashion enthusiast and admirer would leap at this sight. Keep in mind I've been rummaging for clothes at thrift stores and now the clothes I've been gazing at from a computer screen were right in front of me. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, it was, at least at first. In bliss I spent a good fifteen minutes sorting through the racks, picking through every single piece of clothing, giving (I admit reluctantly) special attention to the impressive labels and brands. But what fashion insider who's an outsider to the actual clothes wouldn't? I mean, Isabel Marant, Missoni, Suno, Valentino, and Giambattista Valli were just some among the names. Browsing these labels was like flipping through Vogue.
Once I got past the weight of the labels, I began actually looking at the clothes. Due to the fact that these were the ones that were removed from the warehouse, these clothes were either in unusual sizes (really big or really small!), ripped or damaged in some way, or just too ugly to sell. It was a collection of mistakes really. Every piece I tried on fit into one of these categories; a pair of white jeans from The Row stopped my circulation, I was floating in athletic shorts from Alexander Wang, while I couldn't even fit a Kenzo dress over my shoulders! The only things that actually fit me had some sort of design mistake, for example, a fuchsia eyelet shirt by Oscar de la Renta fit perfectly but it was faded in the shoulders because it was left out in the sun for too long, or a Band of Outsiders sweater that had a hole in it. (I ended up getting that sweater anyway - it was just a tiny hole, I promise!) The most tragic example, in my opinion, was a Suno blazer that was in perfect condition and in my size; it just happened to look a bit... clownish to me.
While I was stuffing myself into a dress that seemed to be made to fit only 10 year olds, my mother (a champion of brand-less comfort and quality) made a point along the lines of why would people bother with expensive clothes like these if a) they aren't comfortable; b) they quality isn't better; and c) you practically need a lady in waiting to get it on? The answer is simple; people won't. Who would pay extra for clothes with those faults when there's perfectly stylish options out there? The logic is showing in the numbers: top high fashion brands like these are constantly losing money in a society of fast fashion. With more money people expect more, and these clothes aren't giving enough.
I realize I'm judging the quality, aesthetic, and business design of high fashion clothes and brands off of the worst of the worst, but those clothes are still carrying the name and have an expectation to live up to it.