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When you think of viral fashion right now, you probably think of the beautiful strawberry dress that the internet has been obsessed with recently. Made by independent designer Lirika Matoshi, it first appeared in July 2019 before shooting to fame this year, first when model Tess Holliday wore it, and then when TikTok saw it. People created drawn fan-art of their favourite characters in the dress, and have even photoshopped celebrities into the dress.
News sites have written many articles dedicated to investigating why the dress has shot to fame. Vogue’s article on the dress speculates that it’s so popular because it’s impractical, calling it ‘over-the-top and fanciful’ – in the best way possible. It’s frothy, pretty and ‘deeply nostalgic’, with Matoshi herself stating that most of her designs are inspired by her childhood, giving the dress a nostalgic vibe.
Despite this obsession, Tess Holliday was labelled as ‘worst dressed’ in several articles when she wore the dress in January to the Grammy’s. First and foremost, this highlights thin privilege – all of the thin people were praised when wearing the dress, whilst Holliday, a plus-sized model, was insulted for it, the only difference being the size of the wearer’s bodies.
Along with this is the trickle-down effect of fashion. Think of the scene from ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ when Miranda tells Andy about how the colour of her sweater was influenced by prominent designers (iconic scene, iconic movie) – well, this is exactly how it works. Fast fashion companies see what’s popular online, and rush to recreate it to profit off the hype. Not only does this discredit the designer, but it also negatively impacts the environment due to the mass manufacturing of thousands of new garments made with unsustainable materials.
As the Fair Fashion Project states on their Instagram post about the strawberry dress, ‘while fast fashion duplicates allow for trends to be inclusive, it also allows consumer’s ethics to slip’. I, like most other people on the planet, would love to buy the strawberry dress – but at a price tag of 490 dollars, it won’t be happening for me any time soon. While this seems steep, it’s important to remember that Lirika Matoshi is an independent designer who makes her items individually. Accounting for the labour that goes into the dress, including the tailoring and designing, $490 is more than fair. In fact, if every garment was made according to the true amount of labour put into it, most things would be priced much higher than they are. The issue when seeing fast fashion duplicates is that we’re more likely to buy first, think later, without considering how our choice impacts both the designer and the environment – exactly what big companies want us to do.
When buying new clothes, it’s becoming increasingly important to consider their impact on the environment and where they came from. In the case of the strawberry dress, it’s important to not fall into the trap of buying fast fashion alternatives in order to not discredit Lirika Matoshi and all of her hard work.