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Let’s face it: we all love fashion. All of us, no matter whether we’re sporty, a little goth, preppy or retro, want to look our absolute best and put our most stylish foot forward. For many of us, we only pretend not to care about fashion because we worry we can’t afford it, or because we feel it doesn’t often fit into a sustainable lifestyle.
Photo Credit: Francesco Paggiaro
But the truth is, in recent years, the world of fashion has come leaps and bounds when it comes to accessibility, sustainability, and best of all, affordability. No longer are fashion brands unobtainable choices only available to the wealthy and elite. Nowadays, it’s much easier even for those of us on a budget to find gorgeous, stylish, and on-trend pieces from the designers we love.
Below, we’ve listed a few creative ways that designers and fashion lovers alike are working to bridge the gap between high-end fashion and affordability. With just a little creativity and style, you’ll be able to put your best fashion foot forward.
Designer Brands = Affordable Lines
It used to be that designer brands seemed to travel in their own orbit, never acknowledging or even noticing the entire groups of potential customers that would like to buy their products but simply couldn’t afford to. In fact, the sheer unavailability of most fashion brands was the main selling point. That’s marketing 101 – make something scarce, and it increases demand. Long waiting lists for designer purses, astronomically high price tags, and highly sought after labels were the main selling point for designer fashion for many, many years.
But all of that began to change when consumers realized they could take fashion into their own hands. Enterprising and creative folks began to scour thrift shops, secondhand stores, and flea markets to find amazing, gently used, and discarded pieces from major fashion labels, vintage brands, and highly-sought-after designers, scoring these great pieces for insanely affordable prices.
They found they could pair these great finds with lesser-known and more affordable clothing pieces to create truly unique looks that merged high-end fashion with everyday looks to create an entirely new kind of style, and it worked. As this trend took off, more and more secondhand and consignment shops began to open up, “clothing trades” became popular and many apps and sites even joined the fray, like ThredUP and more. Eventually, designers began to take notice.
Now, we’re seeing an influx of high-end designers and brands offering affordable, accessible styles for all. Some examples include Marc Jacobs for Target, Vera Wang for Kohls, and Versace for H&M, but these are just a few examples – there are dozens more.
Finally, designers realized that if their potential consumers couldn’t afford their brand new looks and lines, they’d find them elsewhere, creating fun ways to merge looks with old standbys. Designers wanted a piece of that creative pie, and so they’ve worked to create designs that are affordable to all. And that’s a beautiful thing!
An added bonus to this new affordability in fashion is that accessories are following suit. Just a few short years ago, buying a high-end purse, scarf, or pair of shoes would cost you big bucks, and often there would be waiting lists for items created by highly sought after designers.
These days, designers and accessories brands are following the lead of other reputable clothing brands and offering lines of accessible and affordable accessories in various retail outlets and online. Many celebrity designers are even jumping into the fray and offering up their own accessories lines; Drew Barrymore, Gwen Stefani, and Heidi Klum, to name a few.
The prescription glasses and sunglasses market is also jumping on the bandwagon, offering many high-end glasses lines from big-name designers and celebrities for low prices. Glasses wearers won’t have to suffer from boring frames or mundane designs any longer; there are some truly great looking styles out there from high-end designers that won’t break the bank.
Purses, belts, scarves, wallets, shoes, glasses, and jewelry – whatever accessory you’re in need of, you can find a great, stylish choice on the cheap.
Nowadays, there’s a subscription box for literally everything. From niche foodie boxes and meal kits to shaving boxes, fragrances and cosmetics, and even smoking themed boxes, you can find a subscription box for literally any interest.
People love these because they contain an element of surprise – like you’re getting a present every month – you can discover new brands and products you hadn’t thought to try, and they are often quite affordable (and have the option of unsubscribing at any time which is appealing to those of us who have a budget).
It’s no surprise to any fashion lover that clothing and accessories’ designers and brands were among the first to jump on the box bandwagon. It’s a no-brainer.
In just a couple of years, we’ve seen an influx of fashion and accessories boxes and subscription services for any style, size and preference – from Stitch Fix, who sends you a box of clothing based on your specific styles and sizes every month (and you send back anything you don’t like; what you don’t keep you don’t pay for); to ThredUP, a clothing service for those who loved to buy gently used clothing; Fabletics for the yoga and athletic wear enthusiast, Splendies for the under-wear and panty addict; Rent the Runway which allows you to rent high-end fashion brands and return them… there are so many options to choose from that you could join a new club/subscription every month and still not be done in a few years’ time. There are plenty of clothing box subscriptions and services for men, children, and any type of clothing or accessory you could imagine!
They’re very on-trend right now, which means you should definitely take advantage of a couple of these subscription boxes. Often, they’re a great way to try new brands and clothes/accessories that you might not otherwise be able to afford.
Many offer the “only pay for what you like” option, which is great for those of us who can’t justify paying for things we don’t absolutely love. And the ability to opt-out at any time makes it very low risk. What do you have to lose?
Getting Crafty with Upcycling
Many clothing enthusiasts who also happen to be crafty have learned that they can upcycle their old and used clothing and make some truly innovative looks with stuff they just have laying around the house.
Take a few old pieces, some great brands, and maybe a clothing pattern or two (bonus points if it’s vintage) and create something truly unique and fashion-forward. All you need is a sewing machine!
Upcycled and refurbished clothing is huge right now, with many crafty young designers offering their cool and unique wares everywhere from Etsy to the Facebook Marketplace. Using unique and often sustainable items like safety pins, ribbons, patches, and old fabrics, you’ll not only have something that’s super hot and trendy but something that you feel good about wearing.
And best of all: you’ll save hundreds of dollars a year when you upcycle fashion instead of buying off the rack. Plus, every piece you wear is unique: nobody’s going to be wearing the same thing!
These are just a few ways that enterprising, thrifty young fashionistas are finding affordable ways to look chic and stylish every day of the week. What’s your favorite?