The High Street Hits Fashion Weeks.

Topshop can no longer call itself the only high street brand that shows at London Fashion Week. Over the past couple of weeks River Island has announced that they’ll be showing their newest collaborative efforts with Rihanna during London Fashion Week in February. Likewise, Whistles have also jumped on the London Fashion Week AW13 schedule and will present their Limited collection to fashion week regulars.

It doesn’t finish there either; this week Swedish high street giant H&M dropped the bombshell that they’ll be sharing their AW13 collection at Paris Fashion Week, in the same location that has previously housed Parisian fashion houses Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior.

H&M aren’t completely juvenile to the high fashion scene though – they’ve released endless collaborations with high fashion designers over the past few years – but I still can’t help but question how appropriate this addition to the schedule, alongside River Island’s and Whistle’s, is during the period which is designated for designers to showcase their creative mastery.

Like H&M, River Island falls into the middle of the high street market. The brand hosting a catwalk show is the last thing the fashion industry would have expected but once you attach a celebrity to the brand and call it collaboration, the catwalk show is suddenly not only acceptable but the most hyped show on the schedule at London Fashion Week this season.

There’s something magical about the fashion weeks in the four sartorial capitals – you can’t ignore the anticipation of each collection in the air at each show, the creative effort and time it must take to prepare each collection, the awe surrounding the beauty of each flawless model who parades the catwalk. It’s not an experience for the masses; only a select few are chosen to experience the designers’ new collections because it’s their job to do so, aside from the A-listers placed on the front row of course, and that’s what separates the fashion flock from the rest for that short period of time - it’s a privilege not everyone deserves but those who work hard to get there.

There’s little that’s special about the high street fashion industry. From the very beginning the high street has created fashion for the masses, for which I am grateful for but there’s nothing enchanting about what is simply churning out products as quickly as possible for the largest profit. The high street predicts trends, producing them at lightening speed, whilst making them accessible to all; it’s an industry built to burn a hole in your pockets from disposable, fleeting fashion. 

Topshop hit London Fashion Week  years ago, endorsing the NEWGEN scheme and hosting the show space each season and there’s no denying that the Unique show is an extremely hot ticket at London Fashion Week, proving the potential success of a high street brand at one of the four major fashion weeks.

Only time will tell how triumphant these newly scheduled shows will be and what the industry’s real reaction to the high street encroaching high fashion’s spotlight is – I for one am certainly not swayed towards the idea, at least for now anyway.


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