So far in our Trend Analysis series, we’ve covered athleisure, modern hats, and cropped hoodies—focusing on emerging trends in fashion.

But today, we’re taking a closer look at a trend that has been around for quite some time—the high-low pairing. (And we’re not talking about high-low tops or skirts here!)

Imagine this: you are going to an important event but don’t want to wear a head-to-toe designer outfit because it might seem too over the top. This is where the high-low pairing comes in. This trend combines a designer piece—such as a designer shirt or an expensive handbag—with more affordable pieces.

As an apparel brand owner, it’s important to understand this approach. It will enable you to create collections that are timeless and on-trend.

Today, we’re going to share our insights into high-low pairings, focusing on:

  • The origin of the trend
  • How to successfully pull off a high-low pairing
  • How to leverage this trend for your apparel brand

By the end of this Trend Analysis, you will understand why this trend is so popular and how to use it to position your brand as a trendsetter.

Become a Trendsetter with Scrappy Apparel!

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High-Low Pairing Pioneers: Who Started the Trend?

Although it’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment this trend emerged, we can trace its roots back to the early ’90s.

target what to wear campaign

Target differentiated itself from other discount retailers by focusing on high style and quality basics, launching the successful “What to Wear” campaign, which combined affordable pieces with designer wear. The campaign ultimately redefined industry and consumer perceptions of discount retailers.

Target’s “What to Wear” Campaign

In 1990, Target launched a “What to Wear” campaign that aimed to showcase trendy yet pocket-friendly clothing, making high fashion accessible to the everyday person.

Before this, high fashion was often associated only with the affluent who could afford designer labels. However, Target’s campaign changed this narrative by promoting the concept of fashion for everyone.

Target popularized the concept of high-low fashion by showing high-end designer pieces paired with budget-friendly items. This approach allowed people to assemble stylish looks without straining their finances.

This innovative approach had a significant impact on the fashion industry. It helped elevate the status of high-low fashion, encouraging other brands to follow suit. Today, it’s quite common to see individuals blending high-end and affordable pieces to express their unique style while maintaining a budget.

So, did Target start the trend? It’s hard to say, but they certainly played a major role in popularizing it and making it more mainstream.

The Popularity of Thrifting and Secondhand Shopping

Another factor contributing to the rise of high-low fashion is secondhand shopping.

Thrifting has been around for decades. However, it gained major traction in recent years as shoppers embraced sustainable fashion and sought out unique pieces that could not be found on the high street.

Shoppers were excited about finding designer items at a fraction of the price compared to buying them new. This further popularized the concept of pairing high-end designer pieces with secondhand finds.

Today, the resale market is growing at a rapid pace—twice as fast as the general retail market, to be exact (Source: CNBC). Customers are not just looking for designer items at a discounted rate but also unique and vintage pieces that often fit into the high-low trend.

pull off high-low lookHow To Pull Off the High-Low Look

High-low pairings have become the chameleons of style—catering to the luxury crowd while keeping one foot in affordable chic.

The concept is simple, but it takes a good eye and creative vision to pull off the look. Here are a few tips to help you master this trend:

Basics of the High-Low Technique

  • Choose high-end pieces that offer versatility. Items that can be dressed up or down are ideal.
  • Invest in quality accessories, such as designer bags or luxury sneakers, to elevate outfits.

Creating Cohesiveness

  • Select casual, low-end items that complement the high-end pieces.
  • Opt for affordable, trendy pieces that can be easily mixed and matched.
  • Thrift stores and online marketplaces can provide unique and cost-effective options.

Experimentation is Key

  • Don’t hesitate to mix patterns, textures, and colors.
  • Pay attention to fit and proportion to ensure a balanced look.
  • Always let your personal style shine through.

Now, we’ll get to the good stuff—how to leverage this trend for your apparel brand.

high-low apparel strategyEmbracing the High-Low Style: A Strategy for Your Brand

Knowing that high-low pairings are here to stay, you can use this trend to ensure your brand is optimally positioned in the fashion world.

Determine What High-Low Pairings Mean For Your Brand

The key is to find that sweet spot where this style phenomenon intersects with your brand’s personality, your target audience’s tastes, and your product lineup.

You’ll want to:

  • Research the latest fashion trends
  • Dive into market research data
  • Study consumer buying patterns

This investigation will help you understand how high-low pairings are viewed and appreciated in the marketplace.

Interpreting the high-low trend for your brand isn’t just about following a fashion fad—it’s about finding opportunities within the trend to reinforce your brand’s identity.

Offer Versatility

Create collections with versatile pieces that can be dressed up or down easily. Make sure to highlight how your items can be used in each outfit.

If you have a t-shirt line, you’re in luck—because basic tees can go with both high-end and affordable pieces.

For example, if you want to position your new t-shirt collection in the luxury market, you can photograph the apparel with designer shoes, handbags, and other high-end items.

If you pull off the look correctly, your customers will be willing to pay more for your apparel because they perceive your brand as valuable.

Prioritize Quality

Prioritizing quality is the cornerstone of any successful apparel brand. Whether you’re aiming to cater to the high-end luxury market or providing affordable fashion for the masses, the quality of your products can significantly impact your brand’s reputation and customer loyalty.

Luxury-Level Materials

Your apparel’s fabric should be durable, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing. Remember, the feel of the fabric against the skin can make or break a customer’s love for a product. Using high-quality materials not only ensures longevity but also adds a touch of sophistication and luxury to your apparel.


Superior craftsmanship is equally important. Skilled tailoring and attention to detail in aspects like stitching, seams, and finishes can set your apparel apart from the competition. Make sure each piece is meticulously crafted, with no loose threads or uneven seams. Good craftsmanship should still be a priority, even if you’re targeting a lower price point. It’s about creating a garment that fits well and maintains its shape and structure even after multiple wears and washes.


Quality also extends to the design of your apparel. Unique, creative designs that are both stylish and functional will stand out in the crowded fashion market. Invest in a good design team that understands your brand’s identity and can translate it into appealing and wearable fashion.

Quality Control

Always implement strict quality control measures. Every piece of apparel that leaves your warehouse should be inspected for defects. This step ensures that your customers only receive the best, strengthening your brand’s reputation for quality.

Scrappy Apparel Guarantees Quality in Every Stitch

If you’re looking for an apparel manufacturing and fulfillment partner to execute your creative vision with precision, Scrappy Apparel is your best choice. Here’s why you should work with us:

We Carefully Source and Vet All Our Materials

Our fabrics and inks are all sourced from reputable suppliers. We inspect the materials for quality before any production takes place.

Our Garments Are Engineered to Last

Durability and longevity are not just buzzwords for us—they’re commitments. Our no-feel inks and discharge inks ensure that our prints remain soft and comfortable, preventing any cracking or peeling over time. Plus, our long-lasting inks mean that even after multiple wash cycles, your apparel maintains its vibrancy and quality, giving you long-term value.

We Offer Pantone Color Matching

Our attention to detail extends to colors as well. We understand how vital accurate color representation is to your brand identity. That’s why we leverage the power of Pantone color matching and offer custom dyes and washes. This way, your apparel not only looks great but also stays true to your brand’s guidelines.

We’ll Help You Scale Up While Maintaining Quality

Whether you need 500 garments or 10,000, you’ll always get the same quality level with Scrappy Apparel. We’ve perfected our production processes to ensure consistency and accuracy, no matter how quickly you need your items delivered.

We also offer price breaks for larger orders, so you can keep costs low while providing premium garments to your customers.

We Implement Rigorous Quality Control Measures

We run multiple quality control checks on all of our garments before they leave the warehouse. Our team inspects each piece for defects, checks prints for accuracy and vibrancy, and ensures that sizing is consistent across all orders.

Make Your Style Statement with Scrappy Apparel!

With our all-in-one manufacturing and fulfillment solution for apparel brands, you can make your mark on the fashion industry with confidence.

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