Designer Fashion vs. High Street Shops: Which Store Should You Set Up?

Setting up your own fashion store, but unsure which is better: designer fashion or high street shops? Pitting them against each other in today’s blog post, let the battle commence…

The battle of designer vs. high street fashion has been around since mainstream fashion hit the shops. You could even say it’s been going on since the Romans wore their royal purple garments; the ultimate showcase of wealth.

However, in today’s modern era, the competition grows ever tighter. With calls for a more sustainable fashion industry, but pricing still getting in the way, has the fashion scene really changed?

Before setting up your very own fashion store, these are the things you need to think about. Even before you start setting up commercial contracts for trade and distribution, the first element is all about target market. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the differences between designer fashion and high street shops, to decide which is best…

Setting Up a Fashion Store: Designer or High Street?

Okay, so you want to set up your own fashion store, but what next? Naturally, if you want to lean on an existing brand, a franchise is the way to go. With this, you have a pool of existing shops to choose from, but it all comes down to your personal preferences as to which you decide on.

Alternatively, if you’re creating your own fashion brand, you will have to make the decision as to what market you’re hitting. Whether you’re looking for popular, cheap, fast, sustainable, or quality, there are so many variables to choose from. So, how can you make this decision?

Well, here, we’ll be discussing the benefits of designer fashion vs. high street shops, so you can gauge the scales to decide which is better. After all, there are always two sides of the coin, and here, you can choose a side…

What is Designer Fashion?

Designer fashion really begins with a name. Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Dior, and Jean Paul Gaultier are just some of the huge names within the designer industry. I bet you’ve heard of every one of them, right?

Then, it all comes down to pricing and quality. Designer fashion is known for its high-end materials, including leather and suede which last for decades, and the production line conditions, which are often well-monitored.

In many cases, designer clothing is hand-made, so it’s bespoke and there are limited numbers of each item; great for a unique look. In general, it’s defined as luxury clothing, with the label of a well-known name sewn into it.

Benefits of Designer Fashion

  • Good quality
  • More sustainable
  • Can be handed down from generation to generation
  • Can make you feel confident, as you’re wearing the name
  • Much more exclusive than high street fashion
  • Fits better
  • You can keep up with current trends

What is High Street Fashion?

Alternatively, high street fashion, otherwise known as fast fashion, is designed for the masses. Made using cheaper materials, with comparatively shoddy working environments, high street clothing comes in at much lower prices than designer.

High street fashion stores constantly update their offerings with the seasons, and even month to month. Using catwalk and designer style as inspiration, high street clothing is all about providing quick solutions to the ever-changing fashion industry.

So, what high street shops are doing well at the moment? Well, a short list of high street fashion shops you might recognise includes Zara, Topshop, Primark, Newlook, Accessorize, Dorothy Perkins, and River Island.

Benefits of High Street Fashion

  • Cheaper
  • More accessible
  • Much more choice
  • Can fit in with your friends, if this is something you want to do
  • Often doesn’t use materials made from animal skins

The History of Designer vs. High Street

Couture and designer clothing has been around for centuries, coming into play mainly during the twentieth century, alongside fashion magazines. It was only when mass manufacturing became popular that high street shops began to emerge.

High street shops past and present have always received backlash. In 2006, the Guardian published an article which declared that high street shops were killing fashion. With the lowering value of clothes, they’ve become dispensable, which diminishes the value of the industry as a whole. The overall message read that “having less of better stuff is a more tasteful, healthy and moral option”.

Even now, the media message remains the same, yet high street fashion is still at the top of the charts for their net worth. In fact, sliding second, third, and fourth place under Burberry is Next, M&S, and ASOS! So, it seems that, with the ever-lowering amount of disposable income per head, high street UK clothing retailers won’t be going out of business any time soon.

The Main Differences Between Designer and High Street Shops: Who’s the Winner?

Now that we’ve seen the benefits of both high street clothing and designer clothing, there are some clear differences between the two. When setting up your own fashion store or franchise, I’m sure you’ll have certain moral codes of your own that you want to stick to. Here, the main differences are made clear, so that your personal beliefs can be honoured:

Environmental Differences

One of the main differences between designer and high street shops, bar pricing and quality, is the durable nature of the clothing. Because of this longwearing nature, they are deemed as much more sustainable.

In fact, environmental activists are encouraging people to head to thrift shops and charity shops to reuse what’s out there already. They are also suggesting if we really want to shop, to go for designer clothes, as they should last for many years to come and can be handed down to someone else later.

Winner: Designer

Original Designs

Another main difference between high street shops and designer fashion is the actual design itself. Designer products are usually the originals, and high street fashion tends to be inspired by designer, forging rip-off versions of them in the process. So, if you’re looking for something original, designer is your best bet.

Winner: Designer

Labouring Conditions

It also comes down to the production line. High street shops, like Primark and Nike, have been blasted in the media for their labour force, who are underpaid and overworked. Some even get away with forcing child labour upon citizens of third-world countries!

However, despite these revelations, little has been done to change this, apart from reductions in child labour and environments becoming a little safer. That said, we still have a long way to go, and the world of designer fashion is definitely ahead of the game here.

Winner: Designer

Animal Cruelty

Recently, a video circulated mass media which showed the live skinning of crocodiles for Louis Vuitton handbags. It’s also no secret that big brands still use fox fur, mink coats, and the like, for their products.

Alternatively, high street shops mainly use synthetic fabrics to achieve similar looks. So, if animal cruelty is something you’re hot against, it’s important that you do your research, and decide on a brand that suits your ethics.

Winner: High Street


Are High Street Shops Going Out of Fashion?

As you can see, designer fashion wins in most cases of benefits vs. drawbacks. Because of this, the question of whether designer clothes are a sustainable alternative to high street fashion cannot be refuted.

That said, we can’t deny that high street fashion is still, and will always be, very much part of daily life for the general public. After all, the average person cannot afford to splash out on designer items, and are able to purchase a lot more for their money on the high street. So, if ethics and morals are not part of your decision, it’s all down to price and quality.

Have you branched out into a franchise or fashion store of your own? I’d love to hear, in the comments below, what sort of decisions you had to make, and how you went about them. I’d also love to know your thoughts on designer vs. high street; who knows, perhaps the dawn of a new fashion era is very much on the horizon…

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