Tuesday morning, At an LGBTQ-affirming Episcopal church in Greenwich Village, like most New York venues this week, there was a fashion show. Brand Mirror Palace made its New York Fashion Week debut, largely thanks to its steadfast commitment to founder Marcelo Gaia. But on a different level — TikTok — Gaia’s work isn’t just popular: it’s the latest target of fight culture.
Dupes, short for duplicate, is the Gen-Z term for knockoffs of clothing — and they’re taking over the online fashion world. While the nature of fashion often involves reinventing popular motifs or motifs, the influence of social media on fast fashion brands has completely changed the way younger generations view clothing consumption. Over the decades, these brands would target big fashion houses like Chanel, Prada, and Coach, using designer runway shows and critical reactions to eventually inspire clothes in off-price stores and budget collections. (Remember when Miranda Priestly helpfully broke that down?) Even as fast fashion began to pick up steam in the early 2000s, it took weeks for brands like Zara to get an affordable runway ready for prime and show. – Clothing market. Now, fast fashion brands have stocks of trends that can be ready to go before the models leave the runway.
People who are active in the online fashion community often follow creators, so influencers get more engagement when they consistently work to wear new and popular styles. This contributes to an ever-increasing trend cycle where clothes that were essential four weeks ago can be stylish today. Fast fashion brands like Shein, H&M and Asos, which defined fashion in the e-commerce space, have managed to turn off dupes while their clothes are still popular – showing a direct link between influencer-based marketing and the acceleration of mass clothing. Production.
One of the most popular fast fashion companies, Chinese brand SHIN has exploded in popularity thanks to its presence on TikTok and Instagram. A post featuring #ShaneHowls — where creators buy giant pallets and try them on for followers — racks up thousands of views and comments on the video. Ten years after a $5 million valuation, Shin is now the third most powerful startup in the world and has a net worth of nearly $100 billion, according to Bloomberg. In the year By 2021 alone, Shane has reportedly received $16 billion in sales, despite the company’s constant criticism of its negative impact on the environment and allegations of labor exploitation.
Current trends on Tik Tok and Instagram, like cottagecore or indie sleaze, are often defined by highly identifiable articles of clothing: think Lyrica Matoshi’s strawberry dress, sun-green hokey midi house or this season’s Birkenstock Boston. When a particular brand or item goes viral rather than a style, the most popular dupes are those that recreate a product as closely as possible for a fraction of the price. It’s no longer an inspiration, but a carbon copy. And influencers have an incentive to post and promote popular dupes: In the Amazon Influencer Program, creators earn a small percentage of sales when people buy items through their links.
As a designer whose brand is popular with the young and internet-forward aesthetic, Gaia is no stranger to virality. In the year In 2021, his Mirror Palace fairy dress was a Tik Tok staple for months, spawning dozens of cheap iterations. “I lost count of the number of knock-offs in that dress,” says Gaia. A rolling stone. With celebrity endorsers like Bella Hadid and Dua Lipa, Gaia’s brand has gone viral. Maria in a lace midi dress was next.
Made from 100 percent wool and embellished with floral cut-out sweaters, Gaia Maria says it reminds him of the timeless pieces of Brazilian cinema and timeless pieces his mother and grandmother kept at home after finding a dying piece of fabric at a wine vendor. Gaia calls the final product an “authentic expression” of its heritage and craftsmanship. “Sometimes when you’re a designer you say, ‘Well, this is for the client.'” says Gaia A rolling stone. And sometimes you say, ‘This is just for me.’
With its natural wearability, designer look, and meaningful connection to real life, the dress is an instant must-have for Summer 2020, but delivered plenty of sticker shock at $625. The dupes quickly followed. An influencer has 1.2 million views and 20,000 saves on a video of her finding a $17 dress on Amazon, with top comments like “Amazon storefronts are the real scourge of our generation” and “We don’t want to baby everything.” And they received hundreds of comments, prompting people to order their own dupes.
Gaya says he considers the younger generation particularly sensitive and kind, which is surprising to him given the widespread support of knockoffs, especially the way fast fashion companies exploit low-wage workers at the bottom.
“I’m a bit unemotional at this point,” says Gaia. A rolling stone When asked about the popularity of dupes. “Of course I’m still angry, but more than that, it makes me angry when I see young people promoting me with sticks. We as a society are so used to easy and fast consumption… and dupes really promote such a toxic culture for that.
Designer Y Serna, who runs the New York-based sustainable and plus-size clothing brand Wray, said at least one of her designs was stolen by the online retailer in 2019. Let her continue to work.
“To be completely honest, it definitely gets to me sometimes,” Serna says. A rolling stone. “I was upset about the situation. But I always think that I can design more things. And in a way, when people knock on your designs it’s like they know you’ve made it big. I think, ‘I’ll do it again,’ and I keep going.”
Sarna added that size inclusion brings another dimension to the fast fashion debate, as larger websites are often the places where plus-size people can find clothes that fit. As for her price point, Sarna says that when customers approach her, one can only find their size at places like Sheen, but she is encouraged when people choose to return.
“We get a lot of praise for extending our sizes, which I don’t think we really deserve, if that’s true for you,” Serna says. “I think every brand should carry every size. It’s not revolutionary to do that,” he said.
Many of the debates surrounding the fast fashion dupe center on the battle for accessibility and accountability. Some counterculture proponents say it’s classist to think people can buy designer clothes or always shop ethically, while detractors focus on sustainability concerns in the fashion community. The same debate resurfaced at Fashion Week after several influencers wore fast fashion to the show. Major brands and fast fashion markets like Revolver and Amazon have even held New York Fashion Week-themed events.
While sustainable or smaller designer brands such as Gaia and Sarnas are more expensive than average clothing options, the affordability debate doesn’t take into account how much influence has changed and accelerated fast fashion, says an author and sustainable fashion expert. Come on, Barber.
Barber remembers that small designers in the fashion world have their designs stolen and popular trends are often out of competition at the expense of underpaid or poorly trained garment workers. The ever-increasing cycle of trends means that the already over-produced fashion industry places unpopular clothes in abundance in the Global South. According to Barber, conflating fast fashion copies with classicism simply ignores the root cause of the issue: overindulgence.
“The fashion industry produces enough clothes to clothe 12 human beings, and the reality is that you have to be privileged enough to buy fashion in a system where it’s seen as a necessity,” Barber says. . “There are a lot of bad faith players in this discussion. The poor didn’t create this mess…and I think it’s time people were really honest with themselves about how they’re contributing to this problem.
With swag culture increasingly infiltrating the way Gen-Z and social media fashion mavens shop for clothes, Gaia says he favors crossover versions that take inspiration from designs without directly stealing them. He especially likes fans who send in inspired outfits they’ve sewn together or saved, saying it’s a “better and healthier way to be involved in fashion.” For those who think the only way to achieve fashion fame is through purchasing power, Gaia also encourages them to consider where their clothes come from and the real human costs of staying on trend.
“I wholeheartedly agree that everyone should be able to enjoy fashion and express themselves however they want,” Gaia said. A rolling stone. “But I don’t think exploiting people who are less fortunate than you is the answer. And as someone who grew up with no disposable income, I filled a closet, and I always looked good.