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  • Writer's pictureBrandon West

The Unreachable Height of High Fashion: A Critique on the Facade of Inclusivity

Updated: Mar 11, 2023

A critique, not on the most elite in the fashion industry, but rather the guise of its inclusive promotion.

High fashion is often considered the pinnacle of the fashion industry, showcasing luxurious fabrics, intricate designs, and unparalleled craftsmanship. It is an art form that has captured the imaginations of many and has become a symbol of wealth, status, and exclusivity. However, despite its undeniable appeal and promotion of inclusivity, high fashion remains largely unattainable to the masses.

The primary reason for this is the exorbitant cost of high fashion garments. High fashion designers invest a tremendous amount of time, effort, and resources into creating their pieces, from sourcing the finest materials to hiring skilled artisans to bring their visions to life. This level of craftsmanship and attention to detail comes with a high price tag, which only a select few can afford.

In addition to the cost, high fashion is also characterized by its limited availability. Most high fashion houses produce only a small number of each garment, making them highly coveted and exclusive. This scarcity drives up the price even further, as demand far exceeds supply.

Moreover, the exclusivity of high fashion is carefully cultivated by designers and fashion houses. They create an aura of exclusivity around their brand, using a range of marketing and PR tactics to create a sense of aspiration and desire among consumers. The result is that high fashion becomes not just a symbol of wealth and status but also a means of self-expression and identity formation. Yet, it also balances a false attainability by leveraging unique models.

Models, especially high fashion models, are promoted under the guise of inclusivity and unique beauty rather than "cookie cutter" beauty to make it appear to the consumer that anyone can be a model. However, the real industry folks know that uniqueness is luxury and is ultimately unattainable. Once the fashion industry realized that anyone could become skinny and dye or cut their hair to become a model and they received major criticism for not being inclusive.

The genius minds of the industry realized they could fool the public by promoting 'inclusive beauty' under the guise of being inclusive of all body types and features including freckles, large eyes, vitiligo, etc. This is the type of beauty is that is real luxury because these body features are simply unattainable to the everyday person. Their product becomes more luxurious under the facade of inclusivity.

I am not knocking the fashion industry for being inclusive, because it has become more inclusive, but rather critiquing brands for promoting it as such knowing they are hiring these models to make their brand feel more exclusive. It's a rather interesting and complex oxymoron.

Grazia Magazine (Source:

While it is tempting to believe that high fashion could be made more accessible to the masses, this is unlikely to happen. The exclusivity, unique models, and high cost of high fashion are central to its identity and appeal. Without these elements, it would lose much of its cachet and allure.

There are, of course, some efforts to make high fashion more accessible, such as collaborations between high fashion designers and high street retailers. These collaborations bring the design expertise and prestige of high fashion to a wider audience, at a more affordable price point. However, even these collaborations are limited in scope and availability, and they often sell out quickly, leaving many consumers disappointed.

Another angle to consider when examining why high fashion will never be reachable to the masses is the aspirational aspect of the industry. High fashion is not just about the clothes themselves but also the lifestyle and image they represent.

Fashion shows, advertisements, and celebrity endorsements all promote a certain ideal of glamour, sophistication, and luxury that is highly aspirational but largely unreachable for most people. High fashion brands promote a certain lifestyle that is often associated with the rich and famous, such as traveling to exotic destinations, attending exclusive parties, and wearing the latest designer clothes.

For many consumers, this aspirational aspect of high fashion is a significant draw. They may not be able to afford the clothes themselves, but they can still buy into the image and lifestyle that these clothes represent. This is why high fashion brands invest so heavily in marketing and branding, creating a sense of exclusivity and aspiration around their products.

However, this aspirational aspect of high fashion is ultimately unattainable for most people. The lifestyle and image promoted by high fashion brands require a level of wealth, status, and privilege that is out of reach for the vast majority of consumers. Even if they could afford to buy a high fashion garment, they may not have the same opportunities to travel, socialize, and live the lifestyle associated with these clothes and will have to be content admiring from afar.

In conclusion, while high fashion may be admired and coveted by many as an art form (as it should) the heights of high fashion are unreachable to most, despite the aspirational imagery. The cost, exclusivity, models, and scarcity that define high fashion are essential to its identity and appeal. As such, high fashion will continue to be a symbol of wealth, status, and exclusivity, available only to a select few who can afford it.


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