Emerging Brands Can’t Afford the Fashion Industry

Red Carpets Free-Outfits Expose a Sick System

Emerging brands can’t afford the cost of the fashion industry. The contemporary fashion industry poses insurmountable challenges for emerging designers, especially regarding the financial burden of celebrity endorsements. This issue was thrust into the spotlight by an Instagram post from 1Granary, which resonated deeply and exposed the harsh reality of an unsustainable system.

We explored this topic in 2021, but the situation remains unchanged, highlighting the persistent struggles new designers face in an industry dominated by high costs and elite influencers.

We have reached a point where celebrities collect numerous outfits from various brands, both famous and emerging. While established brands pay celebrities to wear their clothes, emerging designers often provide garments for free, lured by the promise of gaining visibility. However, this exposure doesn’t pay the rent. More often than not, the provided outfits are never worn and are returned at the designer’s expense, highlighting a glaring lack of respect and consideration.

What’s the point of stars wearing luxury designer clothes on red carpets when it’s common knowledge they don’t pay for these outfits?

Red carpets & free outfits: Exposing a bloated and sick system

Let us express a few considerations:

  • Corporations own luxury brands and have the funds to promote a system that manipulates consumer behaviour.
  • This is marketing! Marketing has always targeted women, traditionally deemed as fragile and easy to influence or manipulate. Unfortunately, women fall into this trap.
  • Historical Context: In the 1980s, Giorgio Armani pioneered the strategy of dressing Hollywood stars to sell to the American middle class. In an era of massive overproduction and a booming economy, perhaps this strategy made sense. Following Armani’s lead, other designers began giving outfits to stars, resulting in the middle class – primarily women – purchasing these outfits.
  • Current Realities: Today, the landscape is starkly different. The middle class has been eroded, and the economic model is collapsing. Amid ecological breakdown, this marketing tactic feels increasingly obsolete and irresponsible. Most importantly, some consumers are tired of being treated as mere tools in a marketing ploy.

Conclusion: How can emerging brands afford this fashion system?

In essence, the fashion industry has flipped the script: celebrities who can easily afford expensive clothes are given outfits for free. And they are even paid to wear them. This reversal means that those who are most able to buy these clothes are not the ones contributing to the industry’s profits. While those who can least afford to bear the costs are manipulated into purchasing overpriced items. This system creates a distorted market. But also inflates retail prices, as the cost of celebrity marketing is passed on to consumers.

Clearly, emerging designers can’t afford the financial burdens imposed by the contemporary fashion industry. This entire system lacks logic and respect, leaving new talents struggling to survive.

Imagine a different approach: What if celebrities purchase their outfits? Luxury designers could donate the proceeds to charity, and emerging designers could support their creative work and pay their rent. This vision promotes a fashion industry that supports creativity and fairness, rather than perpetuating a cycle of exploitation and exclusion.

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On Creative Directors

The Impact of Big Egos on Fashion: What to Expect?

As the fashion industry evolves, reflecting on creative directors and their work seems crucial to understanding its direction. Indeed, the shift from the figure of designers to creative directors brings about some considerations. What should we expect in fashion? Creativity and skills or marketing and big egos?

The Work of Creative Directors

From what we’ve seen so far, creative directors take over a Maison and shape it with their own aesthetic. How do they do it? They can access extensive archives and substantial funds. Corporations produce and flood the market with their products, promoting them across every single media. However, after too much exposure, people get tired. When love ends, sales plummet, and, as a consequence, the creative gets kicked out. Nobody wants to purchase products of the unfortunate brand anymore. Not even off-priced.
While that brand struggles to regain identity and credibility, the creative jumps to the next one, replicating the very same view under a different logo. In this game, brands lose their uniqueness and look all the same. Every reference is NOT a coincidence: Alessandro Michele represents the most striking case. His recent looks for Valentino seemed more like an advertisement for the new Gucci campaign. A hybrid Gvucci or Vucci, as you prefer. However, he is not alone. The havoc John Galliano made on Margiela is another example.

But why don’t these creative directors launch their namesake brands? They avoid it because out of that box, they lose their relevance. Their skills rely on immense archives and huge investments. They excel at styling and marketing, but the creativity of a fashion designer is a different matter. Their ego overpowers.


With perseverance and hard work, designers of the past created a distinctive style, developing a culture around it. The unique idea of fashion they believed in was idiosyncratic, and they worked with determination, committed to spreading that idea.

In fact, the role of the creative director is a marketing necessity for corporations to lure consumers. Unfortunately, the side effect is a flattened fashion industry, where the only focus is profit.

As we witness the rise of creative directors, we need to acknowledge that these figures fail to introduce innovative elements or enrich the discourse within the fashion industry. Instead, they perpetuate a dangerous cycle of overproduction, which they would never attempt to change because they are part of the system. Employees and accomplices.

This, we must take into account.

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Dior in Court Administration & the Case of Luxury Fashion

Is Luxury Fashion Sustainable and Ethical as They Claim?

Dior in court administration highlights the case of luxury fashion, bringing to light a harsh reality. Luxury brands pride themselves on labelling their products and practices as the only sustainable and ethical fashion. But the truth is way far from that high-standard patina. The reality diverges significantly from the beautiful policies displayed on their websites or the public declarations made during panels, events and fashion shows.

Luxury & sustainability: the image of dedication

Let’s take a step back. In 2019, magazines and millennials applauded Maria Grazia Chiuri for explicitly tackling sustainability. “A topic she’s grappled with privately for some time and that’s becoming a growing focus at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the luxury conglomerate that owns Dior,” you can read on WWD.

The same WWD article notes: “The group recently bought a stake in the Stella McCartney brand, known for its green credentials, and appointed photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, founder of the Good Planet foundation, as an advisory board member. LVMH is set to unveil further environmental initiatives at a press conference in Paris on Wednesday.”

The news: Dior in court administration

Now, back to the present day. According to Reuters, “an Italian subsidiary of French luxury giant LVMH that makes Dior-branded handbags was placed under court administration on Monday, after a probe alleged it had subcontracted work to Chinese-owned firms that mistreated workers.”

Italian police conducted inspections at four small suppliers operating in the Milan area. The staff lived and worked “in hygiene and health conditions that are below the minimum required by an ethical approach.” Additionally, the workers had to sleep in the workplace to ensure “manpower available 24 hours a day.” Moreover, safety devices had been removedfrom the machinery to allow faster operation.

The current investigation into labour exploitation within Italy’s fashion supply chains is shattering the immaculate image brands use to describe themselves. Indeed, it exposes the connection between luxury brands and sweatshop conditions.

Specifically, this is the Milan court’s third decision this year regarding pre-emptive measures. In April, they accused Giorgio Armani Operations of inadequate supplier oversight. 

However, Reuters has seen a copy of the latest decision: the court stated that prosecutors alleged the rule violations were not isolated incidents among fashion companies operating in Italy, but rather a systematic issue driven by the pursuit of higher profits.

“It’s not something sporadic that concerns single production lots, but a generalised and consolidated manufacturing method,” the document said.

No comment from LVMH. Armani stated that it has always implemented controls to “minimize abuses in the supply chain.” Fun, isn’t it? Is a 2/3€ per hour pay a minimisation of abuses?

More data on investigations here:

Behind the Seams: Fashion Industry & Forced Labour

And here:

Workers’ Rights in the Fashion Industry

The case of luxury fashion

In conclusion, let’s repeat this concept once again: fast fashion and luxury fashion are two faces of the same coin. For different budgets, but operate through the same exploitative pattern of overproduction.

Is luxury fashion sustainable and ethical, as they claim? Not at all. It’s a marketing manipulation. Mass-produced garments made in sweatshop conditions are neither sustainable nor ethical. High-end brands sell a dream, an illusion of luxe. And, If quality is an illusion crafted by marketing, so is luxury. What once was known as luxury fashion isn’t really luxury anymore.

Indeed, luxury fashion has nothing to do with true luxury.

The absence of moral fabric within the industry is evident, and consumers demonstrate disregard by ignoring this issue despite the wealth of available information.

The point is: does it still make sense to support these brands?

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The Environmental Economic Principles Illustrated by Fast Fashion

Delving into Environmental Economics Related to the Most Polluting Segment of the Fashion Industry

This post examines how environmental economic principles manifest in the practices and consequences of the fast fashion industry.

Fast fashion is known for its rapid turnover of trendy clothing at very low prices and has been incorporated more and more in our day-to-day clothing. However, behind the illusion of trendy and cheap pieces, this pressure to minimise costs and speed up production leads to a complex range of environmental and economic implications.

Some of the reasons fast fashion is becoming a progressively bigger issue for the environment include its use of toxic and heap textile dyes, polluting waterways as well as the amount of landfill waste generated by the industry. According to Ting and Stagner (2023), the life cycle of clothing has been constantly shorter, starting from the 1980s. This means that we are using and disposing of clothes faster and faster. As this analysis explores, most of the unused or unwanted pieces end up in a landfill or burned, contributing to climate change. Otherwise, research shows that about 450,000 tonnes of clothes exported from the United States become part of a second-hand clothing trade. That impacts low and middle-income countries.

Fast fashion’s environmental economic principles (full analysis)

Inefficiency of resource extraction

This concept relates to the long and complex supply chain of the market. Starting from agriculture and petrochemical production (for synthetic fibre production, such as the famous polyester) to manufacturing, logistics and retail. Each step of the production of the garments has an impact on the environment due to chemical, energy, material and water use.
In fact, research shows that approximately 60% of clothing is made from petroleum and 30% from cotton. Thus having a large impact on the environment. Additionally, many of these chemicals used in the production of textiles are harmful to both the factory workers, the environment as well as the end consumers ( Niinimäki et al., 2020).
Even though consumers are now aware of the environmental and personal impact of those chemicals, why do they keep on buying these products?

Fast-fashion marketing

Marketing becomes an even stronger tool when brainwashing consumers with the famous concept of “Green Washing.”Greenwashing explains the behaviour of firms when engaging in misleading marketing strategies/ information about their environmental performance or the environmental benefits of a product (Delmas & Burbano, 2011).

Pollution as a negative externality

A negative externality is the imposition of a cost by one party (in this example, a fast fashion firm) onto another. The process of manufacturing the clothes involved in producing the fast fashion items generates significant pollution. This includes air pollution when producing textiles, water pollution from dyeing fabrics and waste generation from packaging. Additionally, the growth of textile fibres, manufacturing and clothing assembly tends to take place in countries with cheaper labour, such as China and Bangladesh. According to Ting and Stagner (2023), there has been such an enormous increase in fast fashion during the past 10 years that firms had to increase supply, increasing the risk of slavery-like working conditions in those middle/low-income countries.

Waste generated

One of the pillars of the increase in fast fashion is the rise in consumerism in society. A world with a culture of over-consumption and rapid disposal of goods will consequently have problems with excessive waste in landfills. When it comes to the textile industry, it is challenging to recycle or biodegrade due to the complex nature of synthetic fibres which are the base for most fast fashion garments. The business model of fast fashion is designed to be unsustainable and by definition. It is “a fast-response system that encourages disposability” (Ting & Stagner, 2023).


In conclusion, all consumers share responsibility for this waste crisis that the fast fashion industry has created. The rapid pursuit of economies of scale in this industry leads to the expense of sustainability, as mass production and global supply chains also allow fashion brands to keep their unsustainable business model. This practice leads to several environmental economic principles, such as negative externalities, resource extraction and depletion, waste disposal and labour exploitation.

In order to address this issue, there is a need for a multifaceted approach that considers all factors such as social, economic and environmental. For instance, sustainable alternatives, circular economy models, ethical fashion practices, and consumer awareness campaigns are essential to mitigate the negative effects of fast fashion on the environment and the people.


ABC News In-Depth. (2021, August 12). The environmental disaster fuelled by used clothes and fast fashion | Foreign Correspondent. 

Barnosky, A. Matzke, N., … Tomiya, S. (2011). Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived? Nature, (471), 51-57.

CBC News. (2023, October 28). Exposing the secrets of sustainable fashion (Marketplace). 

Niinimäki, K., Peters, G., Dahlbo, H. et al. The environmental price of fast fashion. Nat Rev Earth Environ 1, 189–200 (2020).

Kitson, J. C., & Moller, H. (2008). Looking after your ground: Resource management practice by Rakiura Maori Titi Harvesters. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, 161-176.

The Economist. (2018, November 30). The true cost of fast fashion

Ting, T. Z.-T., & Stagner, J. A. (2023). Fast Fashion – wearing out the planet. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 856–866.

✍️ Credit: Post written by Gabriela Preuhs, a Brazilian scholar pursuing studies in economics and psychology at Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand.

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The Digital Mirage: When Technology Distorts Reality

Navigating the Fine Line Between Innovation and Illusion

Technology is beautiful, but it often distorts reality. In fact, some advancements are gradually pulling us away from reality, increasing our desire for novelties and making us forget what’s truly real and meaningful. For example, consider NFTs, digital fashion, and digital influencers. None of these concepts have a physical presence, yet they’ve spread their influence across our society. 

But, in the era of digital mirage, can we distinguish between innovation and illusion? 

Technology vs reality: NFTs, digital fashion & digital personas

An NFT, or “Non-Fungible Token,” is a digital artwork that can represent a wide range of subjects and sometimes costs millions of dollars. These tokens are bought and sold online, typically using cryptocurrency. Forbes reveals that “Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sold his first ever tweet as an NFT for more than $2.9 million.” This is $2.9 million for the equivalent of a screenshot of a Twitter page. For a while, there was a great buzz around NFTs, but these investments are now hitting a downfall because of the uncertainty of the cryptocurrency market. Maybe we are realising that we don’t need to invest in such non-essential items. 

Digital Fashion
Brands like Nike and Ralph Lauren are experimenting with digital fashion. For example, Ralph Lauren’s virtual store allows you to take tours of the different retail locations. This use of AI is beneficial for visualisation and brand development. During my fall semester at the University of South Carolina, retail students were asked to review an app where they created avatars and could buy digital fashion from brands like Prada. Then, the review asked further questions like: “How likely are you to buy digital fashion?” I answered no, as I could not understand the concept of purchasing digital fashion. We don’t need three-quarters of the physical items we buy, let alone digital ones.

Lil Miquela: digital personas to drive consumerism
Lil Miquela is a famous AI influencer on Instagram with 2.6 Million followers. She posts frequently and can be seen “traveling” to places like Coachella. Not only does she travel, but she discusses politics and collaborates with brands like BMW and Chanel. However, do not be fooled by these digital personas, as they are simply sophisticated marketing tools designed to get society to buy, buy, buy. 

Come back to earth

Despite technology bringing positive innovations, we are facing a digital mirage that distorts reality. Do not get too lost in technology; most of it is propaganda or more marketing schemes. Remember, the main driving force of the world is profit. Everything is for profit, and brands aim to control your lifestyle, turning consumers into mere robots of consumption. So avoid these superficial distractions and come back to reality. Return to the basics and make mindful purchases that align with your genuine needs.

✍️ Credit: Post written by Joelle Elliott, an American scholar pursuing studies in Fashion at Cattolica University in Milan; currently interning with suite123.

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