Fashion Fiesta

Ramp FashionFashion FiestaOne reason why the high street is successful is the because of its sheer speed at ‘translating’ hot fashion trends. The question that strikes one’s mind then is, how quickly does catwalk fashion get to the high street?

Top designers join forces with shops. Cutting edge items are made available immediately after the original has been exhibited. This process gets faster each season, as fast as three weeks. This is partly due to the ready availability of images in magazines and on the Internet.

Although no one admits to direct copying, sneaking into shows for ‘inspiration’ or ‘research’ has been a phenomenon for many decades. This activity has often been cited as a form of spying in order to quickly make mass-produced copies of exclusive designs.

An action group in the United Kingdom called ACID (anti-copying in design), which was set up in 1996, has campaigned on behalf of designers to combat the accelerated trend in plagiarism. Says Dids MacDonald, Chief Executive of ACID, ‘The creativity of UK design talent is being battered by the might of some high street retailers and

multi-nationals taking the fast route to profit.’

ACID has established a voluntary Code of Conduct for retailers to acknowledge and protect the intellectual property rights of designers. This has been met with increasing success. And yet, the United Kingdom is so fond of thrift and the idea of a bargain that this is never going to be quite enough.

People are used to seeing cheaper versions of exclusive designs and they get a thrill from the idea of paying less, even if the quality is inferior. High street fashion stores such as TopShop, Topman, Mango, Zara and Burton provide an affordable solution to wear the latest catwalk trends without blowing an entire month’s wage on it.

Joining them thus, might even appeal to others. Many designers have now decided that if they can’t beat the retailers, they will join them. Some designers like Vivian Westwood and Paul Smith have opened their own boutique shops. Others, like Zandra Rhodes or Antoni and Alison, opt for showcasing limited ranges from their collection within selected department stores or shops.

Zandra Rhodes offers a TopShop range; Julian McDonald, a Boots range of candles and tights, these are just a few examples.

With high profile celebrities such as pop stars, sports personas and actors rivalling designers in their ability to set or influence trends, popularizing cutting-edge fashion labels with cross-over ranges on the high street is less a concession to popular demand and much more about basic survival.

However, this is not the only fashion fiesta that the people of the United Kingdom are indulging in. There are positive and broader prospects if we look at fashion here. It speaks for charity as well. One need not be surprised when one reads about the rubber wristbands, which are available in a variety of colours representing different charities or campaigns.

The trend started with the popular yellow band which is inscribed with ‘livestrong’ and was set up by American cyclist Lance Armstrong in an attempt to raise awareness for cancer.

One of the more popular wristbands in the United Kingdom today, is the white ‘make poverty history’ band worn by UK celebrities like Bono, lead singer of U2, and Elton John. Premier footballers such as Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand wear the black and white ‘stand up speak up’ bands to combat racism. The pink breast cancer campaign bands have seen an increase in sales since Australian pop princess Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with the dreaded disease, and underwent surgery for breast cancer earlier this year. If you want to support the beat bullying campaign you need the blue band which is on sale for £2.50 and is worn by England football captain David Beckham and singer Natasha Bedingfield.

The average price of the wristbands is £1 and all the money goes to the charity. They are seen as trendier than traditional charity pins which is why so many young people are seen wearing them. Many people criticise these bands by arguing that they are worn only because of their trend factor. This could be true but then this is not a bad thing. If it raises money for charity and increases people’s awareness of various health and social issues, then surely it is a good thing.

Thus we can have a glimpse into the arena of fashion in the United Kingdom. From setting trends, to combating social issues, the UK fashion scene surely one worth exploring!

Puja Wattal