The Scandal of Carrie Bradshaw Wearing Fast Fashion

An entire cottage industry has cropped up around the filming of HBO Max’s Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That. The appearance of various characters on-set—from Natasha (Bridget Moynihan) to Anthony Marentino (Mario Cantone, who is a fox)—is breaking news for the likes of us who watched live on Sunday nights, trademark HBO fuzz enticing us into a new episode. Then, of course, there are the outfits, chronicled in 2021 by dedicated Instagram accounts (@justlikethatcloset already has 52,600 followers and counting) and dissected by a social media-sphere that barely existed during Sex’s maiden run. When the series finale aired in 2004, Twitter was still two years away from being created.

The latest sartorial saga from the set: fans aghast at the sight of Carrie Bradshaw wearing—gasp—fast fashion. Sarah Jessica Parker was photographed in character this week in New York with what appears to be a paisley Forever 21 maxi dress layered over a blue oxford shirt. Yes, she paired it with a Gucci x Balenciaga “Hourglass” bag and Terry DeHavilland platform sandals but fans couldn’t help but wonder why the noted designer devotee, a woman who found herself teetering on the edge of financial ruin but with a $40,000 Manolo Blahnik collection, is wearing a mall brand. Is Carrie even Carrie anymore?

There is the possibility of styling a high/low mix. On the one hand, Carrie has always been critiqued for how unrealistic her closet is, given what we know about writerly budgets. (According to a leaked script, she is also locked in a bitter divorce battle with Mr. Big, another financial snafu.) Perhaps Carrie—who reportedly hosts a podcast in And Just Like That— is finally dressing within her means. But a fast fashion dress isn’t just a fast fashion dress: for some it’s also a disturbing sign that the reboot isn’t thinking harder about the fallout of fast fashion. And Just Like That is depicting re-wears, like Carrie’s famed blue Manolos, but “in a time when sustainability is so important and ethical treatment of garment workers is a major problem in this industry, it is truly a crime for her to be wearing fast fashion,” one former fashion editor said on Instagram.

The merits of the outfit itself are also up for debate. “The look in question just…isn’t good,” Mic wrote this week. “It’s all too busy and discombobulated, and not in the artistically intentional way [Patricia Field] used to style Carrie.” The outfit is reminding some spiraling fans that Sex and the City’s rebel-genius costume designer, Patricia Field—mastermind of Carrie’s opening-credits tutu and hits like the Dior newspaper dress—is not working on the reboot. It’s an absence that is, frankly, almost as glaring as that of Kim Cattrall as Samantha. Field told WWD she was already committed to season-two of Emily in Paris; Molly Rogers, who worked in Field’s store and with her on SATC, has taken over.

In a post-pandemic New York, during a movement for racial and social justice, Carrie and company should be wearing clothes that are not only ethical and sustainable but inclusive and thoughtful; not just Fendi baguettes but Telfar bags. Cue the clicking of Carrie’s computer keys at the end of each retro episode. Now it’s our turn to wonder: The fashion world outside of Sex and the City is changing—but will Sex and the City change with it?