Is high-end fashion worth it?


Fact Box

  • Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘high-end’ as “of very good quality and usually expensive,” and “intended for people who want very good quality products and who do not mind how much they cost.” 
  • Statista reports that Louis Vuitton was the most valuable luxury brand in the world in 2022, with a brand value of over $124 billion. 
  • French fashion house, Hermès—founded in 1837— is the oldest luxury brand still in operation.
  • A high-end fashion house can only be labeled ‘haute couture’ by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM), upon the conditions that it “must own an atelier in Paris with a minimum of 15 full-time employees, have 20 full-time technical workers in an atelier somewhere, and show 50 looks, at presentations held twice a year.”

Elliot (Yes)

Undoubtedly, high-end fashion is worth it, as luxury brands are usually quite ethical. Most, if not all, styles from popular high-end brands like Bottega Veneta and Gucci are made entirely in Italy by skilled craftspeople. Not only is the European Union home to some of the best labor laws in the world, but skilled clothing workers in countries like Italy are treated with respect. In contrast, non-luxury brands like Nike and Adidas have been linked to forced-labor factories in China. 

Secondly, designer clothes are superior to 'fast fashion' because they put less strain on the environment. It's better to purchase one quality item a year that you really love rather than going to GAP or Walmart and buying 20 things that you'll probably only wear a few times before throwing away. While high fashion is also struggling with waste and environmental impact, many companies are leading the way toward a more sustainable future. Kering (the parent company of brands like Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga) has announced that it will stop using fur in its designs. Filling your wardrobe with just a few high-value, long-lasting pieces is always a better alternative for the planet. 

Most notably, luxury-brand quality is world-renowned--with high-end fashion houses pushing the limits with exceptional creativity that you don't see anywhere else. Obviously, higher-quality pieces last longer, with some arguing that high-end fashion is ultimately more economical than fast fashion. 

Last but not least, high-end fashion is an investment in yourself. You never know how a solid first impression might help you in your career or personal life. 

Bre (No)

A dress for the price of a car? Hundreds of dollars spent on a simple t-shirt that’s no better than the rest? Costly upkeep and storage? Many are rightfully questioning the outrageous prices of high-end fashion.

Luxury fashion is often eye-catchingly bizarre, making it unsuitable for everyday life and impractical for ordinary people. The bold styles are usually short-lived, worn primarily for self-validation and status flaunting. This can backfire, though, as studies show donning designer brands actually makes people feel inauthentic, lowers confidence, and leaves a negative impression on others. Wearing expensive styles can make people seem less friendly or approachable and even appear less desirable for jobs requiring warmth.

According to research, designer brands are neither of higher quality nor superior production. Additionally, luxury brands are known to outsource for cheap labor and create massive amounts of waste, not unlike the fast fashion industry. Moreover, designer clothes are shown to wear down more quickly than affordable alternatives. Luxury’s allure depends on exclusivity, but high price tags are no longer sufficient, and the glow is swiftly fading. Countless copycats and counterfeits, second-hand sales, and rental platforms all make high-end looks more accessible than ever.

Consumers are rapidly learning that value should be based on worth, not cost. Conscious consumption is on the rise, as evidenced by the increasing emergence of numerous brands and trends focused on craftsmanship, affordability, and ethical, sustainable practices. Insanely marked-up high-end fashion is no longer justified in a market overflowing with more sensible options.

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