Can elevated basics help fix the fast fashion problem?

Back to Basics - the rise of blank staples

What’s the appeal of blank staples?

H&M just launched Blank Staples, a line of sub American Apparel plain sweats and tees marketed in the millennial language of muted minimalism to capture the post-COVID, stay-home crowd. Meanwhile, COS (also owned by the H&M group) has launched its Core by COS* collection, which will feature seasonal wardrobe essentials for men and women.

The H&M product (below) actually looks really nice. I’m not a tracksuit kinda girl but I do have a fetish for superior quality heavyweight sweatshirts and hoodies. The Blank Staples line is a collaboration with the media brand Highsnobiety, so is targeting the maturing streetwear crowd who want quieter sporty staples. The product – well-cut sweats*, tees*, hoodies* and track pants* in 460g cotton (sweats) and 240g terry cotton (tees) with zero branding or embellishment – comes in calm neutrals around the £12-£30 mark. In streetwear speak, it’s a ‘drop’ model, meaning when they’re gone, they’re gone. (Where they failed is by not making this gender-netural. Missed a massive trick by excluding women – or womxn even – there, guys!)

Highsnobiety X H&M Blank Staples
Highsnobiety X H&M Blank Staples hoodies
The Core by COS* collection (below) is more varied. Made from sustainably sourced materials, it features a variety of Scandi casual-luxe staples like trench coats, sweats and stripy tees. The kind of stuff you always expect to find at COS but marketed as a standalone edit.

Core by COS

So why is this interesting?

If you didn’t see it, the New York Times has a very good article on the death of fashion as we know it, pointing to the excess production problem and unsustainable thirst for fast consumption. This all started before the pandemic but in the wake of COVID I can see more brands pulling back from capital F Fashion and using these minimalist staple collections as something of a palate cleanser. Even though they may seem unexciting, well-made basics can do as much to reinvigorate your wardrobe as a statement piece. If people are being more careful about how they spend, they’ll want the pieces with longevity. Quality is key here.

Of course, as is inevitable, once all the brands jump on this bandwagon, the consumer will get bored rather quickly. And that’s when they start craving novelty again. It’s this cycle that drives Fashion after all, and it was ever thus. But could the cycle be slowed once they have tasted the pleasure of a more considered pace? Well that’s the $64,000 question. To be continued…


WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Daria Werbowy by David Sims for Paris Vogue; Highsnobiety X H&M Blank Staples x 2; COS
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links* and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

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