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High Fashion vs. Fast Fashion

Ever wonder how photographers are able to get such high quality photos during shoots? You would immediately think that all the credit goes to the setting in the camera or our editing skills. You might even go as far as saying the set or lighting, but that’s only part of it.

The major aspect people don’t consider when it comes to a high quality shoot with high quality photos is the outfits the models are wearing.

As photographers, part of the vision is to ensure the outfits complement the model, or client, well and that the outfits don’t look cheap in the final photos and the subject is the start of the show. And this is where HIGH fashion vs. FAST Fashion comes into play.

Inconsistent Quality & Sizing

When talking about high vs fast fashion when it comes to photography, it leads to quality over quantity. And you might be wondering what I mean by fast fashion—these are brands like Shein or Fashion Nova or even Pretty Little Thing where clothes are made from cheaper materials, are very inconsistent in quality, and most times, are unethically manufactured.

Let’s dive into how social media has changed the way we build our accounts—regardless of all the amazing things social media can and has brought to us, at the core of it, social media demands quantity from us creatives. We have to post a lot to grow our accounts, we have to post all of the time now, we have to create tons of content all of the time.

When it comes to photography, that means we have to create a lot of different shoots, which means creating a lot of different sets and buying lots of props and outfits to complete the look. These outfits are not everyday clothes, but instead a heightened over the top look that we have to source and buy.

And when starting and trying to build our portfolios, often times we don’t have a lot of money to work with so it can be really easy to just be pulled into fast fashion and wanting to get things really quick, easy, and cheap so we can make a lot of content really quick so we can grow at a rapid pace. You can still photograph something and make it look good even if it's bad quality, but it makes a world of difference when it's actually really great quality.

I used to have clients bring a lot of fast fashion pieces on set. I wasn’t advising them to, that’s just what I noticed they were doing if I didn’t give them enough styling guidance.

Cameras Pick Up on the Lack of Quality

But looking back on those pieces, I realized they didn’t look very good on the set. I didn't feel good about that styling and it just wasn't the look that I wanted on set. And you know, you can really tell the difference of low quality versus that quality even in photographs.

So, for my personal use, I never buy from fast fashion brands. I thrift most of my clothes and then when I want a specific piece, I try to invest good money and a nice good piece, something that's going to last me a long time.

And so that's something I also do with my business as well. And I started noticing if I didn't style my clients and really take control, or recommend exactly where to buy pieces, or provide a stylist, I realized a lot of my clients were coming in and buying a ton of clothes from Fashion Nova, from Shein, all these different things.

From past experiences with clients who would purchase from fast fashion brands for their shoots, I would advise them on what to wear and what each outfit would be. But because they would purchase from these fast fashion places and the items were so cheap, they would go down a rabbit-hole and buy 10 extra pieces and completely forget about the pieces that were needed for the shoot.

And that’s where I began incorporating as part of my packages and process to provide them with a stylist or ensure that my clients were sourcing high fashion pieces for a better quality shoot because honestly, I didn’t want to represent fast fashion in my shoots at all.

Where to Source High Fashion Clothing

I know what you’re thinking, where can I even begin to find high fashion clothing. Lucky for you, there are a variety of ways to source these pieces of clothing. You can thrift them and go to estate sales as a lot of higher quality clothing and name brand items can be found in thrift shops. There is even an app,, you can use for estate selling to see what is being sold nearby.

You can also rent clothing, for example, a lot of extravagant dresses can be rented from dress rental shops and online dress rental brands such as Utah gowns. Outlet shops carry a lot of luxury clothing for decent prices.

For example. Lulus is a dress brand. And they have an outlet store near me that's in Chico. So if you're in the Sacramento area or Chico area, Northern California, they have an outlet store for their dresses that are either outta season, they've stopped selling them for some reason there's a button missing to the tear in it, things like that.

And all their dresses are about $10. And then their fancy, fancy dresses are about $50. So I've gone there a lot to get extravagant dresses that are still really, really affordable.

So, as you can see, there are a number of ways to ensure you are shopping for high fashion pieces for your shoots rather than having the mindset of cheaper is better and sacrifice the quality of your shoot for a quick deal.

The Cons of Supporting Fast Fashion Brands

Did you know that fast fashion is associated with pollution, waste, the promulgation of a "disposable" mentality, low wages, and unsafe workplaces? While it may get you a quick deal on pieces of clothing, it’s longer term negative effects on the environment and its workers will have you second guessing before making your next purchase with one of these brands. The poorly made garments don't age well, but they can't be recycled because they're predominantly (over 60%) made of synthetics. So when they're discarded, they molder in landfills for years.

If that isn’t enough, Microplastic fibers used in clothing make their way to the ocean, amounting to about 500,000 tons—close to 50 billion plastic bottles. The apparel industry, in general, has been growing by as much as 8% annually (aside from the blip of the 2020 pandemic year)—and fast fashion leads the apparel industry. It's estimated to grow nearly 7% to $39.84 billion in 2025.

So you can only imagine how much the methods of the fast fashion industry are actually causing downfall in our environment.

Check out more facts about the consequences supporting a fast fashion brand can contribute to at this article HERE.

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