Can fashion be frugal and ethical?

By Nia Decaille

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Every fashionable individual has to ask themselves at one point : Do I want this pricy [insert coveted item] or opt for something cheaper and similar? Sometimes we have to stare our bank statements boldly in the face and make a decision of at what cost are we willing to trade frugality for authenticity.

If you watch television or resign yourself to word of mouth, you know that Americans and the rest of world are experiencing the back lash of an enormous economic ‘boo-boo’. Even if you don’t understand how Obama intends to slap an enormous band aid on the current issue, most of us can sigh and come to terms with the platitude ‘money is tight’. Fashionably speaking, this means holding our budgets by the boot straps and finding alternatives to remain savvy and glamorous.

So what could be wrong about buying that knock off instead of a real Coach purse, besides the fact that knock offs are technically illegal? Fashion labels like Made Her Think are experiencing frustrations with shopper frugality. Instead of splurging on their newest $384 Balmain-esque neck lace(above eft), more women are buying a similar ‘Sparkling Triangle Necklace’ for $14.80 instead (above right).

It’s typically normal for a ‘trickle’ effect to take place in the fashion industry, especially since trends seen on the runway are duplicated, and then are mass-produced. For smaller labels like Made Her Think this is a sour reality that’s sweet for shoppers who can’t afford ‘authentic’ pieces.

This has also happened to designers behind Balmain’s tough chic spin on fall fashion during 2009 and the midriff bearing obsession adopted this past summer by designers who find their looks conveniently hood winked and made cost effective. Now I sympathize with these designers who make their livelihood designing quality garments for women , but I can also rationalize many young fashionable people who find large designer brands as more of an inspirational look book. A diva should never have to look less fabulous because he or she cannot afford Yves Laurent and adorning Dior also shouldn’t place you in the poor house!

On the the other hand, pinching pennies and remaining loyal is also an option. If knock offs and imitations aren’t your thing, then saving and salivating over your latest entreaty may be sweeter then settling for what might be of lower quality.

Some last food for thought to fashionable readers: Should designers suck it up and get with the times, or should shoppers show some sort of allegiance and stick to brands that maybe a bit more pricy?

Nia Decaille can be reached for comment at [email protected]