Effect 2 from fast fashion to throwaway fashion

While fast fashion addresses the fashion consumer's demand for constant design change, a new spin-off trend called 'Throwaway Fashion' has also emerged. Throwaway fashion is directly linked with the disposable nature of the current consumer society towards products. This consumer attitude characterized by frequent disposing of goods has been transferred to luxury fashion from other product categories like basic consumer goods. Consumers presently have a throwaway attitude towards a wide array of goods due to the rapid rate of innovation in almost all categories of goods. This has made them view every purchased product as a temporarily owned item, to be discarded with the arrival of a new and better design. It has also contributed to increased expectations of consumers. As a result, fashion is now viewed as disposable. Fashion brands are also contributing to this attitude by constantly providing new designs. Since Zara, H&M and several mass premium fashion brands release new designs every few weeks, consumers have learnt to dispose of certain items in order to create room for the new ones. While most consumers can afford to adopt this attitude towards mass fashion products which have lower prices, the story is quite different when it comes to luxury brands.

Luxury goods are different because they are premium priced. Certain luxury products like bags and shoes, which fashion consumers purchase to complement their mass-premium fashion products like apparel, have an even higher price difference with mass fashion products. This means that consumers literally cannot afford to adopt the 'throwaway fashion' attitude towards luxury goods. Nonetheless, several solutions have been devised by innovative companies, to address the consumer need of 'throwaway fashion' in the luxury arena.

The most notable of these solutions is the provision of the temporary ownership of luxury goods to consumers. This service includes borrowing, exchanging or trading luxury goods between companies and consumers or among consumers, in order to allow the consumers to maintain fashion trends. Several independent companies in different parts of the world currently provide such services. They have applied the same concept that luxury brands have used for decades when 'lending' clothes and accessories to celebrities for special red carpet events like the American Oscar Awards. The difference is that in this case, consumers have to pay a fee to 'borrow' the goods. The companies that offer these services have created a platform for one-day borrowing of clothes and accessories to lending products that can be retained for weeks or months. The services also extend to style consultancy and advice. Foremost among the companies offering these services include Seattle-based Bag Borrow or Steal, which operates a designer bag-rental service for a monthly subscription fee, and Albright Inc. which specializes in weekly rentals of products from the top strata of luxury brands. Others are London-based One Night Stand which rents eveningwear, Paris' Quidam de Revel which operates an appointment-only luxury goods rental service, and Australia's Mila and Eddie (Figure 7.1), which operates a bag-loaning business based on private membership.

The second solution that luxury consumers have found to throwaway fashion is the purchase of second-hand and vintage luxury goods. Although this practice has been in existence for several decades, its commercial scope has expanded. Accordingly, speciality stores have sprung up all over the world to cater to customers that want authentic fairly-used luxury goods at low prices that are sometimes up to 80 per cent lower than the original prices. For example, several consignment stores on Rue Guisarde at the St Germain des Près district and others in the Ile Saint Louis district of Paris retail second-hand luxury products in excellent condition.

Also, websites that retail second-hand but authentic luxury goods have

Figure 7.1 Mila and Eddie provides designer bag rental services. This addresses the 'throwaway fashion' attitude of consumers (August 2006)

Figure 7.1 Mila and Eddie provides designer bag rental services. This addresses the 'throwaway fashion' attitude of consumers (August 2006)

emerged, notably portero.com, which trades through the ebay portal. These websites have credibility because they operate on a company platform, rather than on an individual hawking position. The fairly-used luxury product trade is highly successful on the internet because it gives shoppers anonymity.

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