What the high fashion industry doesn’t want you to know

What the high fashion industry doesn’t want you to know

When I think of the high fashion industry, I can’t help but see images from The Devil Wears Prada. I imagine insanely thin models navigating a world of demanding editors, huge paychecks, and tiny salads. While this may not be entirely true, the inside world of the high fashion industry is loaded with misleading prices and secret practices.

From environmental concerns to reverse photoshopping, there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Here are just a few of the details the fashion industry would rather you not know.

How much sunglasses are marked up

I assume there is a large markup when it comes to high fashion, but never realized sunglasses are the biggest offenders. “Designer sunglasses have the highest markup at retail by far, think 800 percent in some cases. What’s more, almost all designer brands are produced by the same two manufacturers, despite the big difference in price,” Fashion Designer and blogger Mariana Leung told me. “Also, the designer rarely gets involved as this category is usually licensed out to a third party.”

So next time you’re tempted to splurge on the designer sunglasses, take a look at the outlet ones. There may not be a huge difference.

Beware the outlets

You may get similar sunglasses at the outlets, but that’s where the deals stop. Outlets should be places to score out of season or slightly damaged designer clothes at a huge discount. Unfortunately, you’re usually just getting a much less quality garment with the designer’s name on it.

“Designer outlets are run separately. Yes, lesser quality materials, uglier colors, or just old styles are deliberately sold at the outlet malls. They are the stepchild of designer businesses, even if they bring in more money,” explained Leung. “The designer’s best work is sold in their boutiques. Department store buyers often buy the same, safe styles season after season. Then the same buyers charge back the designers if they don’t sell. The one of a kind runway creations are more likely to to be at the boutique where there is little pressure to meet a price point or sales volume.”

If you’ve noticed this trend, then you’re not alone. A group of Congress members wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission about their concerns of deception. “Historically, outlets offered excess inventory and slightly damaged goods that retailers were unable to sell at regular retail stores. Today, however, some analysts estimate that upwards of 85 percent of the merchandise sold in outlet stores was manufactured exclusively for these stores,” they wrote. “Outlet-specific merchandise is often of lower quality than goods sold at non-outlet retail locations. While some retailers use different brand names and labels to distinguish merchandise produced exclusively for outlets, others do not.”

Why your size changes


Ever wonder why your size changes from season to season? Maybe you just assume that you added a few extra holiday pounds, but it could be the clothes themselves. The industry changes the fit and size year to year.

“Always try on clothing. Just because something fit you one season, does not mean the same size will fit you the next,” advised Leung. “Designers and fit models change. The overall aesthetic evolves. Manufacturers are not 100 percent precise for every garment. As a technical designer, I have measured thousands of garments, so I have the numbers to prove this is true. On that note, the ‘size’ on the label means nothing. Every brand has their own sizing, and there is no industry standard. Buy what you like, and what looks good on you.”

So stop giving any of your power to the size in your clothing. It’s bound to change and will look different depending on which store you shop in.

They want you to feel out of fashion

You know that feeling of walking out of the store with the absolute best pair of jeans ever? They feel amazing, and you just can’t wait to wear them. Soon however, they’re just another pair of jeans sitting in your closet. Why do they lose their magic so fast? That’s all part of the plan.

“Once upon a time, there were two fashion seasons: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter,” Sustainable Fashion Designer Shannon Whitehead wrote for the Huffington Post. “Fast forward to 2014, and the fashion industry is churning out 52 ‘micro-seasons’ per year.” The fashion industry depends on you feeling out of style so that you go and buy more.