Fast fashion is dying, but we need a better “Uniqlo”

If you are a social animal with "everyday management", no matter how fashion reincarnates, you must have basic styles in your wardrobe.

Whether it's a white T-shirt or straight jeans, it's easy to wear, looks good, and is versatile. These are the three elements of a basic style.

▲ Picture from: FAKESHION

Masa Yanai, CEO of Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, observed early on that basics typically account for 30 percent of total sales, and that most consumers mix and match seasonal fashions with basics.

The basic models are free from the curse of "not as good as new". At first glance, they are ordinary, but they have always been in the trend.

It's just that "basic models" are often fast-moving consumer goods that "would be used as pajamas after wearing them a few times", the ones that should be faded, the ones that should be deformed; It makes people shy away.

When new trends are emerging one after another, basic models have become more durable, more comfortable, and more environmentally friendly in a reasonably reasonable price range…

It's hard to be minimal but not simple, but it can always be done.

Designed for better "wearing"

"I asked Issey Miyake to make me some of his black turtlenecks, and he sent me over 100 of them. That's all I wear. I can't wear them all my life."

As with the products Jobs helms, he dresses with a personal touch. For more than a decade, whenever Jobs was seen, it was a black turtleneck and blue jeans.

There are plenty of other celebrities who share Jobs’s love of clothing — Joseph Beuys’ felt hats, fisherman jackets and white shirts, Einstein’s brown Levi’s studded leather jackets, and Picasso’s Breton tops.

The pursuit of simplicity day after day, year after year, is actually another kind of attention to fashion, just like basic models that look very simple, but special tests on tailoring and fabrics.

▲ Picture from: I AND ME

The founder of the minimalist solid-color knitwear brand "Zizhi" told Ai Faner that making a basic style is a bit like an ergonomic design:

Many people say that basic models are the same, but I don’t think so. Basic models are designed. The pattern design is more difficult than the external design. Whether a basic model is comfortable enough, whether the fabric is breathable, and whether it is durable is all design. from.

Therefore, weaving gives different basic designs for different groups of people, different seasons and different scenes.

For example, the north and the south have different wearing habits and climates, so the moisture regain is also different, and the fabrics need to be differentiated in terms of weight and density; different body types can find suitable versions for themselves, such as T-shirts with fitted models. , Three-dimensional shirts, loose shoulders, etc.

▲ Loose shoulders. Picture from: Zhizhi

If it is said that the content design is an addition, in the appearance design, we choose to do subtraction, focusing on black, white and gray, focusing on knitwear such as T-shirts, sweaters, sweatpants, etc. There are no extra colors and no popular printing patterns. "I hope to achieve the ultimate cleanliness, so that more people can experience comfort and freedom."

▲ Picture from: Weaving Knowledge

T-shirts from Zhizhi range in price from 299 yuan to 599 yuan, and the brand says they are not profiteering products:

"Those who understand the fabric, weaving, tailoring, and pattern design of Weishi know that the price of Weishi is very advantageous among similar brands and products, and our repurchase rate can reach more than 70%. Only through the upper body, you will know how well the high-quality fabrics and designs fit the body.”

The Swedish brand COS, known as the high street version of Celine, is another upgrade path for the basic model.

Using high-quality fabrics, COS draws inspiration from the arts of photography, design and architecture, and continues to reinvent classic, timeless pieces to give them a modernity.

▲ Autumn and winter menswear collection inspired by oil paintings. Image from: COS

This innovation may be about new silhouettes and connecting details, or new printing and fabric techniques, but it can always be identified as belonging to COS . Therefore, COS products look basic and fashionable. They are in the trend, but they are not bound by the trend.

The mixed-media works of American designer Richard Tuttle, the tropical modernism of Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, and the paintings of British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye have all inspired COS' designs.

▲ Picture from: COS

From the point of view of everyday items, a white shirt has many styles, from the most basic loose cotton shirt, to waist, silk, oversized, ruffled, gathered puff sleeves…

Ping, a lover of basic styles, likes a slightly slimmer style, because "it looks very spiritual", and the design and tailoring of COS is very suitable for him.

The above fashion brands all uphold their own aesthetics, but what they have in common is that they all start from the basics, focus on fabric, design and tailoring around practicality, functionality, and modernity.

▲ Jill Sander. Image from: WWD

This coincides with the design philosophy of minimalist designer Jill Sander :

I prefer a subtle, non-marking way to arouse interest in clothing, with clean lines and flattering silhouettes that make the wearer instantly recognizable in the crowd. Too many decorations can easily distract the wearer's own charm… Using a modern cut to reflect the value of the person itself, it is very important to fit just right.

Basics that are more particular about fabrics, design and tailoring are where the magic happens. Such basic models are no longer just the basic needs of season throwing, but their own design language——

Designed for better "wearing".

Towards the opposite of fast fashion

The "capsule wardrobe" is a concept that appeared in American publications in the 1940s.

It refers to having clothes suitable for any occasion without having too many clothes. In a way, it foreshadows the direction of the base model upgrade:

Basic models that will not go out of style, have good texture, and are highly wearable are required.

▲ Picture from: wiki

Fast fashion, which runs counter to it, implements the element of "fast" from beginning to end.

On the one hand, consumers can buy trendy clothes at low prices in a very short period of time; on the other hand, because of the business model that emphasizes style and not quality, these clothes will soon be thrown into the trash.

▲ Picture from: BeautyMode

In the final analysis, fast fashion brands hope that consumers will continue to buy new things, which confirms the "Fashion Philosophy" again and again:

The essence of fashion is to produce valid symbols, which soon become invalid. The essence of fashion is to create a constant rate of making one thing superfluous as quickly as possible before moving on to the next new thing. It can be said that the key to running a post-modern business is not to meet the existing needs of consumers, but to create new needs.

We're on a fast-paced fashion cycle, but it's also easier to lose patience and get bored more quickly. As the basics of necessities, it can be slowed down, it can be superfluous without being excessive, and it can be avoided by the trend.

▲ Picture from: I AND ME

During her tenure as a denim buyer, Jessica Gebhart was disappointed with "disposable" fast fashion , so she founded I AND ME, a denim and lifestyle brand in 2016, offering basic items such as T-shirts, jeans, and knitwear .

I AND ME believes in "Buy Less, Buy Better", selects biodegradable natural fibers (including cotton, linen, linen, tencel and wool) to make clothes, and launches new collections at the right time, each time the single product Not much, the promo is comfortable and relaxing.

▲ Picture from: I AND ME

While not defined by seasonal trends, I AND ME is also gender-neutral: "The design process is neutral, and before his or hers, I AND ME is always about fabric and style."

Don't worry about fashion, don't worry about keeping up with the trend, just holding this kind of thought is a relief.

Everlane, regarded as "Uniqlo's rival", also made a clear statement-"We don't pay attention to trends."

▲ Picture from: Everlane

That doesn't mean Everlane has no ambitions. Quite the contrary, Everlane wants you to wear their clothes for years and decades to come.

To this end, Everlane claims to choose the best materials and factories for classic products, and control costs by reducing advertising and intermediate links, and then implement the principle of transparency in selling prices , and disclose raw materials, labor, transportation and other costs, as well as the conditions of cooperative factories . Similar T-shirts sell for $15 at Everlane or $55 at traditional retail.

▲ Principle of price transparency. Image from: Everlane

On the answer sheet of inverse fast fashion, Everlane played a combination of "basic models with high cost performance": ethical production process, guaranteed quality, competitive prices, styles and designs that are not outdated… Such Basic models may not be able to be worn for ten years.

When Vogue editor Rachel Besser recommended her 17 "wardrobe must-haves" in April, she said:

In the post-epidemic era, basic models that put practicality and comfort first are appreciated by more people. We also need mood-boosting clothing and trend-setting outings, but prioritizing practical wardrobe essentials remains a staple.

More or less, we all realize that we don’t actually need so many clothes at the moment. What we need is to find the most suitable one for us. Basic models are like a choice that can’t go wrong.

The basic models of inverse fast fashion should be more in line with this need. It must be durable clothing that lasts for a long time, bringing a longer solution to daily life.

The basics that make you comfortable are a kind of fashion

Fashion is a kind of microcosm of culture, a mirror that reflects social trends.

Fashion designer Rei Kawakubo is good at breaking the rules with "violence" and creating concept clothes that are far ahead of fashion. Her Spring/Summer 1997 "Lump" collection is still talked about in the fashion world. This show has been interpreted with many meanings: to dissolve the harmonious relationship between the human body and clothes, to liberate women from stereotyped sexy images…

▲ 1997 spring and summer. Picture from: nowre

Such a pioneer expression ahead of the times, of course we need it.

But unlike the cutting-edge and boldness of the show, when we turn our attention to daily life, it is the lifestyle that defines fashion itself.

When discussing "what makes a better basic", we focus on design and quality, we focus on utility and function, and we focus on how clothes serve people.

▲ Picture from: allbirds

This kind of self-pleasure, which pays attention to "practical and comfortable", is also a fashion.

Fashion brand Basic Rights also focuses on basics, making it slightly different is co-founder Freddie Cowan, a member of British indie band The Vaccines.

In other words, it was because of his status as a musician that Freddie Cowan took a step forward in the fashion field. From the beginning, he went for "practical and comfortable".

▲ Freddie Cowan. Image via: Forbes/Emli Bendixen

The idea sprouted during the making of the third album. At that time, Freddie Cowan felt that he needed a "uniform without thinking", so he devoted himself to creating.

In his view, this is the original intention of a basic clothing company.

But Freddie Cowan is dissatisfied with fast fashion's neglect of tailoring and fabric quality, and can't afford a brand that sells a T-shirt for $100: "We spent time looking for the perfect white shirt or jeans, and we couldn't find it anywhere."

▲ Picture from: basic rights

Like so many brand stories, Basic Rights is determined to fill the void: using durable and eco-friendly fabrics, creating functional yet simple garments, and charging a reasonable price, around £45 for a two-button work shirt.

In an interview with Forbes , Freddie Cowan said that "born to wear" is Basic Rights' brand aesthetic:

We wanted to make something that looked effortless without overthinking, and that was only wearable. It seems unfashionable to elevate clothing to an ultra-high level of care or importance.

The necessities of life, let it return to the use value itself.

Essentially, the basics are the most "wear for wear" type of fashion, and are everyday clothes that are rooted in life and constantly evolving.

On busy days, when it comes to "what to wear", we want to be really effortless rather than seemingly effortless. It's not laziness, but efficiency for a reason.

What brands can do is to continue to upgrade the basic models, as the founder of Zhizhi said:

"Focusing on the product itself is the key point. All the basic models are worth doing all over again. Consumers are growing and time is passing, so the basic products should be constantly upgraded and adjusted. This is the way of life."

Li Ruoqiuhuang, to exorcise evil. Working email: [email protected]

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