Fashion, Opinion, Shopping

Reading about Rent the Runway

I’ve noticed a lot of buzz about Rent the Runway recently. They are in the midst of a new marketing campaign promoting their new, lower priced subscription, and, as a result, coverage of the service has been myriad, from sites like Fashionista all the way to AdWeek. For $89 a month, you can rent four pieces per monthly cycle. This is in comparison to their unlimited subscription which costs $139 to have any three pieces at once (which can be traded for another item at any time) instead. Rent the Runway is an interesting concept to me, because you are paying either a monthly fee or a single-time fee for the actual item (depending on how often you think you’ll use the service) to essentially borrow clothes and return them. You spend all of this money and don’t actually keep anything at home.

Rent the Runway was founded in 2009 by two Harvard Business School graduates. The initial concept was to provide occasionwear. You could rent a dress for a formal event like prom, a wedding, a gala, anything. The idea was that instead of spending $200 on a dress that you will wear one time and then banish to the back of your closet, you could spend under that dollar amount to rent a dress and return it afterwards (no questions asked, different than what would happen if you tried to do the same thing to a store). You could also rent a designer style which you may not be able to afford in a regular store like Barneys but you could wear one-time for a manageable price-point. Since then, the service has expanded into all categories of clothing and accessories. They want to be the go-to source for a woman’s everyday wardrobe, not just for the once-a-season event that she may have to attend.

In one of the articles linked below, a representative from Rent the Runway mentioned that under the new subscription plan, each item only costs around $20. The point being made with this figure was that the service was intending to compete with fast-fashion stores in capturing the women’s dollars. Instead of buying a cheap shirt from Zara, rent an expensive one from Rent the Runway. You get the quality you can’t normal afford for a price that you can. However, I wonder how many women would be comfortable with not actually owning their clothes. What if someone compliments your cute sweater and then you can never wear it again? That’s what seems weird to me because I can’t imagine having something I love and then not owning it, then not being able to afford it if I actually did want to add it into my closet.

Currently, Rent the Runway operates across the US with physical stores where you can try on the clothes in a select few cities (New York and Los Angeles included). They also ship all across the US. With the new round of marketing campaigns they are targeting the US in its entirety. They’re putting adverts on national tv. Besides the lower cost subscription, a huge thing that the brand is pushing is the sustainability factor. According to representatives from Rent the Runway, the brand is entirely sustainable as it uses reusable garment bags and 100% ‘green’ dry cleaning practices. Furthermore, because the customers aren’t actually purchasing the clothes and are sending them back after use, clothes that are unwanted are going back to Rent the Runway, not ending up in the landfill.

I think that Rent the Runway is a great concept but I’m not sure how I would feel about having my entire closet “in the cloud”, as they put it. I like to own my pieces and wear them again and again and again. I think that is a pretty sustainable option. I would consider Rent the Runway for an occasion if I needed to rent a gown. However, for everyday use I’m not quite there yet.

Further Reading

“How Rent The Runway’s “Closet In The Cloud” Is Changing The Face Of Sustainability” – Fashionista

“Rent the Runway’s National Campaign Wants You to Convert Your Closet Into Anything You Want” – AdWeek

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Fashion, Shopping

Exposure

 

A months or so ago, Fashionista.com published an article entitled “Free the Nipple: How the NSFW Runway Trend Translates to Retail”, a story about how nipples are prominent on the runway, often exposed through sheer fabrics or implied via the whole no-bra look, and how this movement has now reached fast-fashion stores and mass-acceptance. I’d agree with this. Perhaps it’s just living in New York and attending a very liberal school, but I’d say this is definitely the case. Most people aren’t afraid to go braless anymore, something that was frowned upon just a few years ago, and some people go even further. I remember watching a Seinfeld episode where Elaine buys her friend a bra as a gift because her friend always goes braless and gets so much attention. In turn, her friend then wears just the bra and no shirt to make a point. It was funny and classed as totally scandalous at the time, yet nowadays it is totally normal.

I created a few looks on Polyvore, as shown above, which feature either bras as shirts, bralets, mesh shirts, or lacy sheer bodysuits. I wanted to show the various different ways you could style this look for different occasions. I find myself wearing similar outfits on the regular and not feeling risque in the slightest. It’s funny how quickly things become norms.

The Fashionista article was particularly interesting because it was in the long form, something that they don’t do too often, and featured an interview with a trend forecaster who offered further insight into the matter. I’m always interested in what trend forecasting agencies have to say because they are meant to be the people who know what is happening in fashion before it even happens. At my school, we have access to databases like WGSN where we can see trend forecasts for the upcoming seasons, the same level of access that brands and other organizations can pay for. I find it fascinating to see if they are actually right or not. Often they are.

Read the article that I linked above and let me know what you think about this “trend”, if you can even call women’s body parts a trend (which is a whole other talking point).

Further reading

“Free the Nipple” – information from the organization pioneering the current version of the movement

“Free the Nipple founder Lina Esco on fighting the fight for gender equality” – i-D magazine

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Fashion, Shopping

Shopping Find: Steve Madden vs Marc Jacobs

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These boots from Steve Madden (right) look almost identical to the boots from Marc Jacobs (left). Strikingly so. That’s why I bought them. I’m not a huge fan of the whole copycat economy in fashion, yet I consistently partake in it by buying pieces from brands who profit off of other people’s work. Steve Madden’s entire business is built on this. It’s complicated because if you cannot achieve the original should you have to go without? Honestly, I have mixed feelings. I disagree, strongly, with counterfeits but inspired designs are a different case. That is where these boots land. In that tricky space between a counterfeit and a knockoff. And yes, there is a difference.

The obvious difference between the two is the fabrications. The Marc Jacobs boots are made of real leather versus the Steve Madden ones which are PU. However, what surprised me was the fact that the Marc Jacobs boots also have a seam at the front where the leather is joined. Often in high end boots, the leather is seamless, cut all in one to prevent any extra lines. I guess because Marc Jacobs boots aren’t at a true luxury price point ($500+) they are exempt from this rule, or more so this tendency.

I just love the look of platforms. They remind me of the Spice Girls. I like to feel like I am walking on stilts when I wear them, especially as I’m fairly short so the extra height is fun for me. They also have the ability to make your legs look 6ft long, even if they’re not and make your calves look sculpted. I bought the Steve Madden version on sale for $50 and I’m excited to wear them. I only received them in the mail on the 13th so I can’t personally vouch for their comfort level yet. However, aesthetically they are on point. I would suggest ordering a size up from your regular size as they run small. I had to switch them out the first time I bought them.

SHOP ONLINE

Steve Madden – $50, from $129.95

Marc Jacobs (via Barneys) – $475

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Shopping Find: Alexander Wang x Topshop x Urban Renewal

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I’m not a denim skirt fan. They look weird on me. In my mind, they are for mid-2000s moms. However, they seem to be having a resurgence. I noticed this last summer when pretty much every cool girl stepped out wearing one. I didn’t partake in it last summer and I probably wont next summer. However, I liked this Alexander Wang option because it was a little bit more interesting to me than your standard, straight-across denim skirt. Instead of being his mainline runway collection, it is a piece from his Denim x Alexander Wang line. I haven’t actually purchased any jeans from them yet but I am planning to get a pair of either the skinny style or the slightly wider straight legs. I haven’t yet decided. I came across the two dupes organically. I was just browsing on both Topshop and Urban’s websites when I seen the styles that looked eerily similar.

As this is an older season style, Alexander Wang’s skirt is available on The Outnet (therefore already reduced from regular retail price) and is on sale. Furthermore, the Urban Renewal style is half price. What’s funny to me is that Topshop’s version is current season and still full price (34 GBP). However, out of all three options it is the one I like the best. I think the wash of the denim is the nicest. All of these styles come out to less than 100 GBP in total so really any of them are a relative steal. Maybe you can rock the summer staple with the cut-out twist better than I could?

SHOP ONLINE
Alexander Wang (via The Outnet) – 94 GBP, if you’re in the US you can get it at Barney’s for $69
Topshop – 34 GBP
Urban Renewal (at Urban Outfitters) – 20 GBP

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Shopping Find: Fashion Nova vs Atsuko Kudo

Google “Kim K latex dress” and the Atsuko Kudo website will come up, alongside a pretty hilarious article on Cosmopolitan about what it’s really like to wear the infamous style. A material formerly confined to sex shops, latex is now hot. Weirdly enough, I kind of want to get on board. There’s something intriguing to me about being wrapped in this tight little dress and probably having to take baby steps all evening. At least you know your body looks damn good.

Seeing it on Kim Kardashian didn’t really do too much for me however. Her body is very different from my own so I couldn’t tell how it would look on me, or at least someone with my figure. Along came Nicola Peltz who first wore the black version then later wore the blue version for Halloween this year (dressed as Barbie). Honestly, my favourite colourway is the pink one that Kim wore. If I were to buy one, I’d probably buy that. Black gives slightly too much of a dominatrix vibe to me.

The coolest thing about the Atsuko Kudo dresses is that you can have them custom made to fit you. You send away your measurements and then they make a latex dress to fit your body perfectly. I think that is key when it comes down to wearing this kind of dress. You don’t want any wrinkles or baggy areas. However, if you don’t want to wait for the custom made dress you can order a standard size as well.

barbie vibes 🦄🌟👽💗☄️

A post shared by Nicola Peltz (@nicolaannepeltz) on

Fashion Nova also do a similar dress. The style is almost identical. They both have the moulded cups (which I love) but the biggest difference is the thickness of material. Obviously the Fashion Nova one isn’t made from latex, more a thinner synthetic material, and it is a hell of a lot less expensive. Also the Fashion Nova style has an exposed zip on the back. I don’t think this is a spot-on imitation of the more expensive style but I do think it’s a good way to get the look for less. Let’s be honest, this isn’t a dress that you’re going to wear very many times therefore aren’t you better buying the cheaper version? Unless you’re a celebrity, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t take the Fashion Nova option. Yes, the legit latex dress looks hot (in many ways) but for a wear-once dress maybe the Fashion Nova option is the better one. Either way, your Instagram pictures will be fire.

SHOP ONLINE

Atsuko Kudo – $375 + VAT

Fashion Nova – $32.99

 

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Shopping Find: Balenciaga VS Zara

The Vetements effect is real people, evidenced by the wide array of puffer jackets in stores and the styling of them to look exactly like the Balenciaga offerings that Demna Gvasalia sent down the runway. When you go into Zara on Fifth Avenue you’re actually confronted with a mannequin wearing their version of the coat, zipped up in the same way as the Balenciaga one with the wide lapels and slight triangular shape. I’m not sure how I feel about this jacket (the expensive or inexpensive version).

I generally hate puffer jackets. I don’t like things that add extra bulk to my frame and that’s exactly what a quilted jacket does. However, I do understand that they’re super warm and given the winter that we’re supposedly set to have in New York, perhaps the added bulk would be welcome. Honestly, I’m going to buy a parka and hate my appearance so much in it but at least I’ll be cosy.

On the runway

On the runway

The Balenciaga jacket is extremely expensive, in my opinion, for what it is made of. Its 100% Polyester (lining and outer) and, as far as I can see, there’s no mention of down filling. The Zara jacket is also polyester but with 70% grey duck down, 30% feather filling.

SHOP ONLINE
Balenciaga – $3250 (preorder)
Zara – $149 (there is also a different style in store I think)

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Shopping

One Item, Three Ways – Topshop

I recently bought this wrap dress from Topshop for £46, or £41.60 with student discount, and I think it could be one of the most versatile pieces I currently own. To demonstrate this, I have styled the dress three different ways – weekend, weekday, and night. Click on the images to be redirected to Polyvore where you can shop the items.

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Fashion, Opinion, Shopping

Spend More, Buy Less

Note: This was written at the beginning of July and queued. Since then I have done more research and I have further posts coming up detailing my findings.

The concept of “spend more, buy less” is fairly buzzy at the moment. Fast fashion is the devil whereas ethical fashion is king. I cannot pretend that I don’t shop in fast fashion stores. In fact, I buy clothes from Zara, one of the worst offenders, almost every single month. However, I have noticed myself making more of an effort to buy less and buy better. I have to admit that this is less from an ethical standpoint (I still haven’t seen The True Cost yet, but I do plan to watch it in a couple of weeks) and more from a future-planning stance. I need to buy a wardrobe full of staples and basics that will last me the next few years of college, and the one-season trend pieces can be bought cheaply when the time comes.

Spending smartly is key for me at the moment. I’m going from having a full time job and a decent amount of disposable income to spend on whatever I want to being a student in a country that I cannot legally work in. Pocket money will be less than I’ve gotten used to and I won’t actually have my own income. It seems crazy. In preparation for this I have been upgrading items in my wardrobe to better quality items that will hopefully last me for years. I’m buying good leather, silk, and suede whilst I still can. I’m buying cotton instead of polyester. I’m avoiding the fabric that is labelled as “slinky” on every e-boutique that is usually flattering but clearly a fire hazard. Light a match near me in a two-piece slinky co-ord set and I’ll go up in flames.

Initially I found spending more than £100 on anything terrifying. However, I have realised that although I am spending more than I normally would on the initial output, the cost per wear is probably lower over time than it is with less expensive items I am buying. Cost per wear sounds like a cop-out excuse to justify your spending but I have actually found it an effective measure of if my purchase was worthwhile or not. Take a pair of black leather ankle boots as an example. This winter I bought a pair from Hobbs. They are a classic style made from soft leather and they have a small but manageable heel. From January to April I wore them 5 days a week and since then I’ve worn them at least once. Believe it or not, they look as good as new. All I need to do is polish them literally once a month and the marks are gone. I plan to get them reheeled if they ever need done instead of just buying new boots every year. Before I bought these ones, say from October to December, I actually bought 3 pairs of cheap boots that I thought could tide me over in the meantime. 2 were from Missguided, another from Primark. I probably spent around £65/70 altogether on these boots which were disposable to me. They didn’t last more than a month each and I knew they wouldn’t be a good investment when I bought them. That was stupid spending and it’s the type that I’m trying to stop, or at least limit.

Inside & Other Stories on Broadway, New York

I have now taken to shopping in the stores that are between straight-up fast fashion and designer. Just now I really love & Other Stories, a brand from the H&M group that makes a lot of cool pieces out of great materials. Their stores are an experience in themselves too. I really enjoy going there. I also visited Aritzia when I was in New York last month and liked the selection in there. They had a lot of brands with prices starting around $100 and going way up. I have never heard much about Aritzia which made me wonder why. Is there a reason that this store is not hyped online or am I just missing it? From what I know, they are a Canadian company who have a few stores across North America. They don’t yet ship internationally so that may be a factor. I also really like the Boutique range in Topshop, the more minimalist big sister of the main line. Elevated basics is what I into really. Rather boring but I find it better to buy interesting basics rather than fussy, trend pieces that will look dated very quickly.

The next few items on my list of things to invest in are a good leather backpack (I like the Alexander Wang Prisma range and I also seen a Gucci one that I liked but realistically I’ll be way to broke to save up for either), a heavy coat that will last a few New York winters (hopefully not a parka but maybe it’ll come to that), black leather pumps, and a silk shirt.

I think I’ll probably revisit this topic in a few months after I have watched The True Cost and also done some further research on fast fashion. I understand the basics of why it is bad, from various standpoints (humans, environment, businesses), but I do not have enough knowledge of the ins and outs to discuss it very well. I sometimes feel that the people who condemn fast fashion speak from a point of privilege. Lots of people don’t have enough money spare to shop ethically, which is always more expensive than just going to Primark to pick up some clothes. If you’re struggling to make ends meet or if you’ve got kids who are the priority I feel like you’re less likely to be able to make this change. And really, it may be low on your list of concerns. I don’t know where I stand. I feel it would be far too hypocritical to act as if I thought fast fashion was the worst thing ever because I shop it and I benefit from it in many ways (I used to be employed by a fast fashion company). As I said, I will revisit this topic at a later date when I’ve hopefully formed a more sophisticated opinion that I can articulate a little bit better.

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Shopping Find: Isabel Marant vs Zara

The look that stood out to me from the Fall 2016 Isabel Marant show was the Prince of Wales check dress. To me it was so 80s, a little bit punk, so fun, and so appropriate for every possible situation. I still worked in an office when I seen the show so I thought it was a more interesting twist on what could be a boring work dress, based on the wrap over detail and the extra fabric to add a little flounce. Also, I loved the oversized safety pin detail as it is something that adds a little bit extra cool but could easily be missed if you wanted to hide it. In the collection, there was also a cute skirt in a similar fabric which featured a tied waist; I would settle for this too.

Left - Isabel Marant, Right - Zara

Left – Isabel Marant, Right – Zara

Fortunately, the fast fashion store that everyone loves to hate/hates to love, Zara came along and produced a pretty good copy. Yes, the red stripe is missing from the pattern but apart from that the shape and the overall design are pretty much spot on. I bought this skirt as soon as I saw it and then immediately felt guilty afterwards for two reasons: 1, because I had planned to stop buying less things from fast fashion stores after I began researching it, and 2, because I actually wanted to buy the Isabel Marant dress. It was going to be my one splurge of the year. However, I have since remembered that I’m going to be a student and have no income therefore I should just forget about buying nice things anyway. Also, I had a gift card to spend in Zara so I was going to be buying something inevitably.

I plan to wear this skirt in both summer and winter. For the summer I’m thinking about a silky cami top tucked in and for the winter I’m planning a long sleeved, low back bodysuit. I think the skirt would look really great with some black ankle boots (patent, preferably) and tights.

 

SHOP ONLINE

Isabel Marant – £280

Zara – £29.99

If anybody knows where I can get the dress photographed above please let me know. Currently, Net a Porter don’t carry it.

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