Autumn has just begun in my beautiful home city, Johannesburg.

And I’ve found myself frantically scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest, desperate for some seasonal fashion inspiration.

However, all my social media feeds have completely missed the mark – at least, in my eyes. All I see are influencers wearing Gucci, Dior, and loads of name-brand clothes that are way out of my budget. With that being said, I have three main reasons why I’m on a quest to level up my sense of style without splurging on branded clothing.

1. Everyone is wearing name-brand clothing, so it’s kind of…basic.

[Image description: A GIF of Moira Rose from Netflix's Schitt's Creek wearing a fluffy black hat, black jersey and white skirt. The text at the bottom of the GIF says "THAT'S WHAT EVERYONE'S WEARING." via Giphy
[Image description: A GIF of Moira Rose from Netflix’s ‘Schitt’s Creek’ wearing a fluffy black hat, black jersey, and a cream white skirt. The white text at the bottom of the GIF says “IS THIS WHAT EVERYONE’S WEARING?” via Giphy
Streetwear fashion brands have completely taken over, especially for hype beasts. In case you were wondering, a ‘hype beast’ is someone who devoutly wears hyped-up fashion brands with the intent of impressing others. Brands like Nike, Off-White, and Supreme have wormed their way into mainstream culture largely because of the “hype beast effect.” Everyone feels the need to wear branded clothing and it’s making their sense of style trendy, but totally unoriginal.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a clean pair of Nike Air Force 1s. But I think you can develop a unique fashion sense if you give big brands a rest. Consider thrifting, making your own clothes, or finding smaller clothing brands that cater to your style preferences.

2. Name-brand clothes are expensive!

Image description: A man checks the price tag of a brown and white winter jacket.] via Giphy
Image description: A man checks the price tag of a brown and white winter jacket.] via Giphy

We can all agree that name-brand clothes are more expensive than department store clothes and low-end fast fashion brands. However, I’m not advocating for cheap fast fashion because it’s unsustainable and incredibly generic. The UN confirmed the fast fashion industry is responsible for 8% of the world’s carbon emissions as of 2019.

So instead of delving into fast fashion, you can support local clothing brands that put more care into their production process. Perhaps you’ll end up paying the same price as you would for a name-brand item, and that’s okay. At least it will be a unique fashion piece purchased from a small business in need of support. I found that buying clothes from local brands has already helped me level up my fashion game, and the people around me have noticed too.

3. Branded clothes don’t make you feel better about yourself

Rachel Green from the show friends sitting on a couch and wiping her tears with a white wedding dress.
[Image description: Rachel Green from the show Friends sitting on a couch and wiping her tears with a white wedding dress.] via Giphy
For the longest time, I thought buying new name-brand pieces would make me feel better about myself. If the pretty girls on Instagram are wearing cute Nike leggings, then surely I’ll feel pretty if I wear them too. Right? Realistically, that’s not the case. I feel the best about myself when I genuinely like my outfit and it’s an expression of my personal style.

The key takeaway here is that you can be trendy by developing your own personal style and sticking to a budget that’s reasonable for you. Name-brand clothes are awesome and you’re welcome to buy them. But don’t let society pressure you into thinking branded clothing is the only way to put together a killer outfit. 

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  • Luale Monze

    Luale Monze is a well-versed journalist, copywriter and social media strategist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Luale won't shy away from starting new projects, collaborating with fellow creators, and learning as she goes. With a BA in Journalism & Media Studies and a desire to tell meaningful stories, she is ready to take on the world.