While the lucky few who can afford Armani and Gucci shop in exclusive boutiques, the rest of the world enjoys the less expensive yet just as fashionable trends available in nearby retail stores. However, both the elite and the mass market must handle the similar issue of limitations based on the design styles available.
Consumer choices are confined to what is available on the rack, but who decides what is “in fashion” for the season? What many do not realize is that the ready to wear garments found in Old Navy and even Walmart are dictated by the more famous names in fashion. More often than not, a style that is found to be popular will be redesigned the following season and introduced to the general public as a type of value range. The garments are each store’s version of the original look and made with simpler production techniques and cheaper fabrics.
The industrial revolution, along with readily available technology, innovations and material, made mass production a possibility, and the distribution of fashionable garments for low prices was able to begin. In 1845, the first mass market suits were offered by Brooks Borthers in the United States, and the catering for the public’s fashion then took off. From Levi jeans to the more recent H&M’s Karl Lagerfeld line and designs available in Maurices, producing garments for the general population is something that spread an understanding of trends.
High design names transmit their knowledge and ideas to the wider production world to spread the flow of fashion while also spreading their influence. Starting with ready to wear designer ranges that created value lines that the average consumer could invest in, trendy fashions slowly began to become available. Now, diffusion lines like Mui Mui (a branch of Prada) and imitation and interpretation lines like those seen in popular department and retail stores offer even less expensive options.
Where Does It All Start?
But if mass market fashion is trickled down from the elite, where do the original styles emerge from? Fashion is not all about exploiting consumer interests, but is a guessing game. Designers’ creations are shown on catwalks and at high end fashion shows, but their garments are not always the end product, but a prototype up for debate. The reception of contending styles form a direction for the upcoming season and form the basis as to what will work with general audiences. The less appealing are eliminated and the popular are then pushed through for production, leading to the diffusion of the original to various offshoots that eventually make their way to mass market street availability.
The next time out shopping, stop and consider the process it took to get the dress you are purchasing to the sale’s counter in Pac Sun. The item being bought is not just a product of guesswork by the store, but a cooperative creation brought on by high fashion designers like Michael Kors, Calvin Klein and Allegra Versace. From fashion house to household closets, mass market fashion proves to be a stylish and affordable designer product.