By Timia Cobb
Web Content Contributor
Recently a debate sparked on my twitter timeline that has brought attention to just how much the fashion industry runs on reminding lower-class Americans that they can not afford nice-things and should feel guilty because of that.
A $490 dress covered in strawberries from small designer Lirika Matoshi’s online shop is the cause of this conclusion. The dress is beautiful, handmade and has taken over social media.
You can find girls wearing the dress on twitter in over-the-top photo shoots, celebrities wearing it at the Grammys and on various women using Tik Tok. These women on Tik Tok make videos of how thrilled they were to receive it in the mail.
There is nothing wrong with the dress. The price is understandable due to the hype around it; however, what made everything go downhill was when people who could not afford the almost $500 dress started to buy cheaper versions on second-hand and Asia based webshops.
It was said to be disrespectful to the designer –which it is– and that if people wanted the dress, they should save up to buy the authentic version from Lirika Matoshi’s shop.
Here’s the thing, normal lower class people don’t have that much money to spend on a dress. $490 is half or close to the price of someone’s rent, utility bills, car note, etc.
The argument quickly turned into anyone who tried to explain that $490 was too much for a dress, was ridiculed for supporting the stealing of an artist’s work and promoting fast-fashion.
I do agree that buying someone’s designs from a different store for a cheaper price is hindering to the artist, but I also understand that it is a privilege to tell others who can’t afford the dress to simply save up the money to buy the dress and to stop supporting fast fashion.
Most People can’t afford nice things, so they buy what they can. For people who can afford luxury name brand clothes or $490 dresses, to sit on their high-horses and tell lower class shoppers to stop buying fast fashion and buy the original clothing is privileged. It also indirectly says that people who don’t have enough money don’t deserve nice things.
Fast fashion is an industry of clothes making that involves many people, working in horrible conditions for low pay. However, the clothes being made are cheap and make a huge profit because many can afford them. In some cases, fast-fashion is the only affordable thing.
The options tend to either be fast-fashion or buying second-hand clothes from places such as thrift stores or sites like ThredUp, Depop, etc. Although, buying second-hand clothes has become harder.
Buying second-hand clothes used to be something that was seen as a thing only people who couldn’t afford new clothes would do. Shopping at stores like Goodwill wasn’t quirky or cool, but now it is seen as trendy.
Of course, most people do this to save money, but what about the people who shop there because it’s the only place they can afford?
This situation can’t be fixed due to the many good and bad outcomes. For instance shopping, second hand is better for the environment and helps to stop the increase in horrible labor conditions.
Although with more people shopping secondhand, thrifting becomes more expensive resulting in those who used thrifting to buy their everyday clothes having to turn to online shops with cheap prices, those same shops continue to mistreat their workers.
This is why the lower class shouldn’t be ridiculed for buying what they can afford, they do not have a lot of options versus those who have the choice to not buy fast fashion or spend $490 on a dress.
The best we can do is allow lower class people to wear whatever they can afford, or strive to make places that provide cheaper clothing that is reserved solely for them.
Featured image by Timia Cobb.