Could a Mainstream Fashion Trend Like Heritage Signal that Consumers are Sick of Fast Fashion?


L.L. Bean Signature Collection. Credit: L.L. Bean

It's no secret that I believe classic clothing, with a story and history--among other green fashion trends--will combat fast, disposable fashion. The lean towards designing apparel for maximum wearability, whether it be seasonless or made with quality materials, is a trend that extends beyond green fashion; it is popping up in mainstream fashion as the "heritage" trend. In a recent article, WWD examines how "everything new looks kind of old" when it comes to men's fashion these days and how the trend is reaching the masses as "storytelling", one of the top 10 retail trends for 2010, according to Market researcher Kantar Retail. WWD reports:

Marketing-saturated consumers are eager for products that feel authentic and evoke a simpler time. More general consumer trends for transparency favor brands with backstories. But whatever the forces, heritage -- which only a few years ago was relegated to dry corporate time lines and dusty archives -- is now front and center of many company strategies.

WWD tracks the trend from its conception with designer labels, in-and-around 2006 to its recent manifestation in mainstream fashion brands such as J. Crew and L.L. Bean. According to the article, "Many companies are using their heritages quite literally by creating capsule collections that make use of archival designs."


L.L. Bean Signature incorporates archive pieces for fall. Credit: L.L. Bean via WWD

This niche market has a name, too: the archivisti, young consumers whose consumption patterns tend toward products with heritage. It also appeals to "Moneyed, middle-age consumers."

Michael Williams, founder of AContinuousLean.com; a website that embodies the heritage aesthetic, speaks to his observations of the trend, below.

For a long time, we invested in this throwaway culture where everything was fast and new and you bought something for a season. There is push back to that now. People, and brands, too, are realizing there is value in heritage and in this classic stuff.

The Archivisti is looking for products that have meaning, history, and a story. Frank Muytjens, men's creative director for J. Crew, speaks to men's clothing favorites. He says, "Ask a guy what his favorite piece of clothing is and he will always pull out some
battered, tattered thing. Guys have a reverence for the classic."

So what is the difference between purchasing heritage-inspired clothing and t-shirt from Goodwill? Maybe not as much as major retailers would like to admit; Both, after all, have a story. However, the point is that an industry-wide trend is highlighting a major goal of green fashion, which is to connect clothing with people's lives and hopefully, slow down the fast fashion cycle and foster the growth of long-lasting, quality apparel.

What do you think about this trend, do you think it is just pushing consumption or can it help green fashion? Perhaps, both?

More on the men's heritage trend on WWD .