Last week, Britain’s House of Lords released a report condemning the “fast fashion” mentality of High Street shops such as H&M, Topshop and Primark (think the English versions of Forever 21). Not only does this perceived mindset encourage a society of waste, the report said, but it also reinforces the sweatshop economy of Third World countries such as Bangladesh.
While it’s a strange, maybe even haughty denouncement coming from Parliament, they’ve got a point. Disposable clothing means we lose that ability to value possessions. We’re no longer forced to take care of our clothing, knowing full well that if we tear that shirt or if it falls apart in the wash, if a button falls off or a zipper breaks, we can just toss the whole thing away and buy a new one in the latest color and cut for $20. One story in the Daily Mail even compared cheap clothing to cheap food.
The same story offers a solution—kind of. Not to go out and buy Prada coats, but to take the middle ground. You don’t have to buy a $15 pair of jeans, but you don’t have to buy a $500 pair, either.
Puh. I’m the first to admit that I suffer from a sense of entitlement when it comes to cheap fashion—why the hell should others assess my moral character, after all, if a gal just wants to buy a cheapie $39 dress when she spends $80 per week filling up her tank and still has thousands in student loans to repay?
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Point being: I still hang onto my clothing, whether it’s an Anna Sui blouse or an H&M poly-blend. Cheap pieces don’t always have to be throwaway pieces—and you really shouldn’t be buying that skirt if you don’t like it enough to even repair a small tear. Always use a discerning eye at places like Forever 21—most of the stuff there is, admittedly, crap, but every once in a while, there’s an item that will manage to worm its way into my regular wardrobe. Mix it up with designer pieces, and no one (but you) will know the difference.
Which brings us to Richard Chai, a Korean-American designer who’s the latest to take part in Target’s popular GO International line, which has previously included Luella, Erin Fetherston, Jovovich-Hawk (RIP), and Paul & Joe. Chai has experience with only the best: Dior, Oscar de la Renta, helping to launch Marc by Marc Jacobs. He’s even friends with Philip Lim.
His eponymous clothing line only launched in 2004, but it has already met much acclaim for its modern lines and hushed feminine details. Chai’s GO International line, which ranges from $12.99 to $79.99, arrived this month and will be available through early September.
My picks? All the skirts, the cotton-canvas plaid trench ($44.99), and the purple colorblock tie dress pictured here ($44.99).