“I did it! I bought the bag!,” my friend Natalie squeaked in excitement when she made her first big purchase after receiving her tax refund. The bag she was referring to was by Chloé, and it cost a hefty $1,825 after taxes, several glasses of champagne, and a few painfully awkward air kisses exchanged between Natalie and the sales associate.
We met to ogle her new, grey “Nile” bag after she bought it at the brand’s SoHo store on Greene Street last year.
“Isn’t she perfect?,” Natalie asked rhetorically. It was much more of a statement than a question.
“She is a beauty,” I agreed. “But why the hell would you invest so much money in a bag that you probably won’t want to wear in three, or even five, years?”
“It’s called Fashion, Cody, look it up,” she snarked.
It certainly was Fashion—with a capital F. It was also very, very cute. And well made. But, for as much as I tried, I could not wrap my brain around my friend’s purchase.
Before I worked in a fashion closet and assisted stylists, I probably would have wholeheartedly supported Natalie’s purchase. I had champagne taste on a beer budget, with a penchant for unnecessarily expensive shit.
After working in a fashion closet, though, my entire shopping ideology changed. When you see hundreds of samples all day, everyday, it makes it a lot harder for something to be “worth the money,” in my opinion. I used to save my pennies and buy $500 Off White jeans, $800 Gucci slides, and $1,500 Saint Laurent jackets. I was a fashion victim. But not anymore.
There are certainly fashion items that I believe are worth the money. A well-constructed pair of leather boots, or a nice, wool coat, are good examples of pieces that can stand the test of time. Even handbags can be great investments, sometimes.
But, fashion’s become so diluted and trendy in the digital age, that it’s hard to find pieces that won’t feel old or tired after a season. Because of the financial need to remain relevant, very few brands still make unique or timeless fashion pieces.
The exponential rise and demand for sportswear, for example, has driven so many brands to produce their own athleisure lines. Balenciaga is one brand that never made or sold much activewear in the past, but now it’s a major part of their business.
Sneakers have naturally become the centerpiece of this whole movement towards comfort. Pre-athleisure, sneakers were considered a fashion abomination by most standards. Now, almost every brand sells them. You can add the historic Parisian brand Chloé to that list as well.
Chloé just launched the “Sonnie”—a $730 high-top sneaker. It also comes in a low-top version, it’s available in a number of colorways, and it’s (unsurprisingly) chic. Despite the fact that it’s not Chloé’s first-ever sneaker, it still seems somewhat “off brand,” in the same way as when Victoria Beckham started wearing sneakers.
Posh Spice once famously said, “I just can’t concentrate in flats.” Her tune has changed since then, and in 2016, the designer said, “I just can’t do heels any more. At least not when I’m working.”
Lo and behold, Beckham currently has a Reebok collaboration in the works. One can’t help but laugh at the inherent irony in the fashion pack mentality.
Surely a sign of the times, this shift towards homogenization is killing off creativity. Fashion designers used to create more freely without the burden of social media, which serves as a near-constant point of comparison to other brands—and not always in a research-based, “referential” way.
Nowadays, designers are so concerned with trying to remain relevant and salable that their work is suffering. Very little feels new or original anymore. A lot of fashion brands are starting to overlap to the point that they just look like copies of one another. Which, to be honest, makes it hard to see the value in a $700+ sneaker that looks like it could be made by Adidas, or found at a local Foot Locker.
Still interested? Shop the new “Sonnie” sneaker, below.