Is Fashion Really Affordable?


After her show at London Fashion Week, Vivienne Westwood implored her fashion followers to ‘buy less ’ clothes. On the surface, a rather contradictory message from a designer, moments after her brand new collection of clothes were paraded down the catwalk. However, I think she might just be on to something. Is it possible to be both an ardent follower of fashion, and a cost-conscious student? Frankly, I can’t see why not.

First off, one simple take on Vivienne’s message, to ‘start building different values, where you engage with the past, with the human race’ is with that magic fashion-forward word, vintage. Admittedly her words here are a touch melodramatic, however, buying second-hand or vintage essentially accounts to being connected with the past world of fashion, clothes with (excuse the cliché) a bit of a story to them, as well as potentially saving you money and ultimately having something re-used and rather unique, not mass-produced and wasteful.

Having said that, I will admit, it’s not easy. Keeping up with fashion could fairly easily take over your life (and cash). Not only that, but vintage can often be nearly as costly as new season garments, and finding a gem in the local charity shop could require countless trips before anything amazing appears. But, as I discovered last week when dreaming after a powder blue Pucci cocoon coat whose price almost made my eyes water, within a few minutes trawling the websites of good-old high street names, I inevitably found a pretty convincing Topshop alternative (with a price that wouldn’t make me have to live off of baked beans until I graduate). Of course, this isn’t anything new, but the point Vivienne is making is perhaps so logical and straight-forward that in reality, no-one ever does think about it, to ‘choose well’ when buying clothes. By all means, pore over Vogue and imagine yourself in those amazing McQueen heels, but then, why not get searching for a high street take on them? You’re bound to find something similar in style, and after all, they say that all the fun is in the chase.

If you’re still not convinced by the diamond-in-the-rough theory of finding low-cost alternatives, Vivienne’s suggestion that, ‘Instead of buying six things, buy one thing that you really like. Don’t keep buying just for the sake of it’ could very well be your mantra. As a general rule to take away from this, though it seems obvious: think before you buy, covet that one top/dress/shirt/pair of shoes you simply must have, it will make it that more special, and you may well be just a tad smug when you next tentatively check your bank balance.

By Thea Bichard

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