Fashionable clothes are now more accessible than ever before, as shops like New Look, Zara, H&M and Top Shop carry cheap and cheerful copies inspired by the latest creations from top designers. Here, a few examples from the 1960s onwards show stores being inspired by couture high fashion to retail similar outfits for a fraction of the cost and thus reaching a far greater raft of consumers. For instance, a green, purple and blue printed 1960s silk mini-dress by Wallis imitates a printed design by Emilio Pucci, an orange Marks and Spencer coat echoes the bold bright space-age designs of Andre Courreges, Pakamac has fun flaunting a psychedelic futurist PVC design, Biba produces its own cheap version of the bias-cut lace evening dress, and a company named Smarti mirrors the Chanel suit with its boxy jacket and gold chain decoration.
Before the 1960s, stylish clothing was not so affordable and fashionable dress remained the domain of the well-to-do, who did not usually buy clothing ready-made in shops but hired dressmakers, tailors and professional embroiderers to make them. Looking at the two cheap but entirely avant guarde tops from Top Shop at the end, it is easy to appreciate how much simpler and more egalitarian it is, to be "in fashion" in today's consumer-oriented, shop-aholic society.
Full item descriptions:
"mini dress" [1993.31], Wallis
"coat & raincoat" [1994.61], St Michael, Marks & Spencer
"coat" [1970.183], Pakamac
"trouser suit" [1997.226], Picque
"evening dress" [1984.281], Biba, Hulanicki, Barbara
"dress & pinafore" [1998.113], Laura Ashley
"suit" [1995.165], Smarti, Barnes, Barbara
"top" [2004.102], Top Shop
"top" [2004.104/2], Punkyfish