High-street v. High-end

Do you ever buy cheap clothes? […] you know, cheap is a word from another era.’ Do you like any of the high street brands? ‘Topshop isn’t bad at all. […]. Karl Lagerfeld

Note: below, click on the photo to see which label it is.

Since I have gone “All-Dsquared2” I no longer need to go into town and browse what’s on the racks of the high-street shops. That way I save a good bit of time that I can dedicate to playing music, training in the gym, learning Italian, reading in a café and the likes.

A few days ago however, having missed the screening of Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal animals” by a few minutes, and being on the same wavelength as Woody Allen (as Alvy Singer in Annie Hall) in not being physically able to watch a film that has started even by thirty seconds, I had a few hours to kill before the next screening. Being in the shopping district of my city I ventured – hoping not to be spotted – inside some of the huge stores that sell trendy clothes to the masses at a very affordable price.

I have to say I was gobsmacked by the amazing range and style of what I saw. How a man in this day and age can NOT dress well (like my great friend Alberto*) is beyond me. I will actually discuss the topic in a post to come.

*His real name is Fernando but to preserve his anonymity we will call him Alberto.

It was all there: all cuts of jeans, from skinny to flared, the ubiquitous black jeans with horizontal cuts at the knees, the bomber jacket in every colour you can think of, the very “now” sheepskin (shearling jacket), military boots, chukka boots, wool overcoats, whole racks of dinner jackets, and everything you want in terms of tops, accessories, bags…

Of course I know from my pre-D2 days that the quality is often mediocre (again, like my great friend Fernando), but with such prices it is first of all understandable, and also not so much of an issue as the low cost makes it easier to replacing one’s gear on a regular basis.

I have always known the deal between high-end fashion houses and high-street brands, whereby the latter present their collections during fashion weeks while scouts of the former come back to their employers with all the information needed to mass-copy the luxury items at a much lower cost. It might always have been the case in women’s fashion but I think that it has now reached a new level in menswear. The problem is that nowadays, in the relative darkness of a night club for instance, a total look by Dsquared2, Dolce&Gabanna, Gucci… is virtually undistinguishable from one by H&M, Topman, Zara or River Island.

There is something a little irritating at spending a lot of money in clothes that – while they might last longer due to higher quality – will be believed in the eye of the beholder as being easy to source, un-expensive, and un-original.

In some instances like for the tuxedo jackets, the similarity was simply ridiculous.

Same with leather jackets…

Parkas…

One response to that would be to go the Tom Ford way (him again!) of “See-now-buy-now”. But the Caten twins have been clear about this; it’s a whole new beast they are not prepared to tame. ‘See now, buy now’? Forget it!” they said.

So I guess we’ll have to live with it, and may be something healthy will come out of this: what will make the difference between me and Joe Soap is not the clothes we can afford but what we have to say…

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