Instant fashion: is it a blessing or a curse?

I’ve been noticing quite a bit of discussion lately regarding a phenomenon that I call “McDondald’s Fashion”. McDonalds’ Fashion refers to the range of on-trend fashion items that are produced and sold by chain stores at an alarming rate and for a reduced price. Many of these chain stores look to trend-setting celebrities for inspiration, and can have knock-off versions of designer trends in stores and on the backs of consumers before you can bat an eyelash. McDonald’s fashion is like the fast food of clothing, you know it’s not as high quality as an expensive gourmet meal, but you buy it anyway, because you want a quick fashion snack and you’ve only got a few dollars in your purse. McDonald’s fashion is a hotly debated topic among fashionistas and consumers alike. As someone who happens to have a finger in both of these pies, I thought that I would add my two cents to the table.



There are many reasons that this instant-fashion is a bad thing. For one, it creates a bit of a shopping minefield for consumers. When you’re browsing at your local shopping centre, and you are faced with the prospect of buying a slew of on-trend items without huge financial ramifications, it can be very tempting to stock up on things that you don’t need or that don’t even suit you, simply because it’s cheap. If you aren’t careful, it can be easy to wind up with a wardrobe bursting at the seams with crappy clothes, and not a thing to wear. McDonald’s fashion is perfect for instant gratification, but it can burn a massive hole in your wallet if you indulge too often. If you buy ten $10 tee shirts, you’re still spending $100, even if you do get a whole lot more bang for your buck.



McDonalds’ fashion has to be made cheaply and quickly, in order to get the items into the store while the trend is still hot. For this reason, garments that are sold at discount fashion outlets do tend to be of a lower quality than the original designer garments. The fabrics tend to be thinner, the dyes are wont to run in the wash, zippers are sticky and buttons sometimes fall off within an hour of getting dressed. In the fashion world, it really is true that you get what you pay for. If you want a garment that will last you for years and years, then it’s best to invest in a designer or up-market piece.



Another reason that McDonald’s fashion is touted as a fashion menace is that it is said to undermine the work of designers and fashion houses. Many of these quick-and-easy items are copies of designer items. Who can forget the number of fake Louis Vuitton graffiti bags that were wandering the streets a few years back? This type of blatant imitation does indeed undermine the hard work of the designer, and in a way it devalues the original garment.



However, I don’t think that this instant-fashion is such a terrible thing after all. I have a rather small clothing budget. If I saved my pennies to fill my wardrobe with designer pieces, I would be waiting forever for each garment. While there is something to be said for saving for a dream piece, I don’t want to have to scrimp for every single item in my wardrobe. I tend to invest in items that I know I will wear over and over. When it comes to wardrobe staples, I spend as much as I can to ensure that I will get as much wear as possible out of the garment. However, my style is eclectic and high-rotation. For me, getting dressed in the morning is like playtime. I like to have a range of interesting pieces that I can mix and match to create endless combinations and styles. McDonalds’ Fashion allows me to do this. I can pick up a few items that catch my eye for a pittance, and then combine them with my investment pieces to create an interesting style that is totally unique. Instant-fashion makes fashion more accessible, and gives people with a smaller clothing budget a wider reign to experiment with their own personal style.



Instant-fashion also gives consumers more opportunities to branch out with what they wear. I like to experiment with daring garments and new colour combinations. If I had to spend upwards of $150 on every garment I purchased, I would carefully plan and consider what to buy to make sure that every piece matched and that my wardrobe was totally cohesive. I would never try anything new, and my look would be totally mundane and boring. With instant-fashion, if I see something that I want to try, but I’m not sure how to style it, I can buy a cheaper version and experiment with it more freely. Having chain stores that sell on-trend pieces allows people to mix up their style without making a huge financial commitment every time they buy an item of clothing. Sometimes, I will buy a cheap garment that I’m unsure of, play around with it and then realize that it really suits me and I love wearing it. When it wear out, I save up and replace it with a better quality version that has earned its’ place in my wardrobe.



There is a downside to this approach though. McDonald’s fashion is trend-based, and trends move very quickly. Fashion has an even higher turnover rate with the popularity of the internet, because word spreads faster online than by print. With the internet, people can see pictures of celebrity outfits literally minutes after they walk out the door. This can spark a trend almost instantly, and stores have to hustle to keep up. For this reason, the item that you loved a few months ago might no longer be available by the time you want to replace it with a high-quality version.



I see nothing wrong with making a list of your dream items and investing in staple pieces that you know you will wear over and over. It makes sense to shell out as much cash as possible on items that are going to work hard. However, fashion should be fun as well. Not every purchase you make needs to be an investment. You’re clothes shopping, not buying a house. It’s perfectly fine to make a few cheap, frivolous purchases every now and then without feeling guilty. You just need to keep things in perspective. If you spend your entire clothing budget on cheap knock-offs, you’re going to wind up with so much clothing that you’ll be overwhelmed by it all. You will have to keep replacing the garments you wear most often, and will wind up spending more money in the long run. On the flip-side, if you make a few ‘investment purchases’, but give yourself the freedom to buy a few fast-food-fashion items, you can have some lovely designer pieces and also feel free to mix some new and interesting elements into your wardrobe.



McDonalds’ fashion isn’t quite the fashion demon that some people make it out to be. It is a godsend for people like me who love to mix and match their style, but who don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on clothes. It gives people an opportunity to try new things without making a huge financial faux pas if they buy something that doesn’t really suit them after all. Just remember that, like fast-food, instant fashion must be enjoyed responsibly. If you have it every day, you’ll wind up with a very fat wardrobe and a guilty conscience. However, if you save it for when you want to splash out a little, or when you see something you really want, you will probably find it a lot more satisfying.


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