In “The Devil Wears Prada“, one of my favorite movie scenes ever gives truthful insight into the “creative flow” of trends. It’s harsh, but true.

Meryl Streep (loosely based on Anna Wintour) ends her rant with “…then trickled on down to some Casual Corner where you no doubt fished it out of a clearance bin…”

Ummm what’s wrong with Casual Corner? HA

There’s an unspoken-about gap between high fashion and consumer fashion, as if high fashion wants to pretend that it could exist without consumerism, but it couldn’t, at least not in the economic materialism sense. There is no superior value to a $4000 limited-edition designer coat than a $300 private-label department store coat, provided both are made of quality materials that will keep the wearer warm.

The material value is set by our individual values: softness, uniqueness in the market, innovation of design. The more unique an item is, the less it will sell to the masses, which means a designer needs to mark up the price to maintain a high profit margin and stay in business, since they won’t be selling high volume. The craftsmanship of these garments meets the standards of certain consumers’ values, thereby validating the price, at least in their minds. They want to acquire something people don’t have yet and they’re willing to pay for that item that “controls” the market.

The trickle down effect is that the unique item, now quantified by sales in the marketplace, will be copied, though in a generic style, to be sold to the masses. And therein lies the symbiosis.

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