Alison Toohey wonders whether fashion can be defined by class, and should it thus be treated as an aesthetic?
Can fashion be defined by class? Recently, this line is becoming increasingly blurred, as we see brands like Miu Miu embrace raw hems, oversized fits and muted tones that we aren’t used to seeing from high end brands. This rough, undone look is definitely what you would expect to see from people who can’t afford to buy flashy luxury garments. This is both good and bad. On one hand it is making fashionable clothes accessible; you can go into your local charity shop and come out looking like a model off duty. However it is also a little bit damaging as well. Dressing in basic outfits with rips and a lack of structure is only cool when society says it is. Unfortunately this look is something a lot of people had no choice but to sport before it was cool. This relaxed, undone “aesthetic” is only cool if you’re doing it in a chic Kate Moss way and not in a, “there’s a cost of living crisis and I can’t afford to buy a new jumper that doesn’t have holes in it”, sort of way.
In recent years it has become quite trendy to shop vintage and second hand. Don’t get me wrong, this is amazing, as there's less fast fashion shopping happening and people are becoming more aware of sustainability. However, a lot of people have had no choice but to shop second hand, when many would have turned their noses up at this. Fast forward to now, and there are charity shop hauls all over Tik-Tok. The damaging thing about this attitude is that things are not cool, until they are. Wealthy people wouldn’t have dreamed of looking for their clothes in charity shops until now but thanks to Emma Chamberlain, second hand is in. Some have been criticised for doing that for so long, when they had no other option.
What’s worse, celebrities are cosplaying as poor people because it’s on trend. Today’s streetwear trends coincide with this second hand vintage vibe people are obsessed with right now. Therefore we have people like Bella Hadid stepping out looking like she just got her look in the local charity shop, when in reality her outfit probably costs more than most people's salaries. The go-to look of cargo pants and chunky boots we keep seeing is really giving working class chic. It is a bit mad that these people, that have never been poor a day in their life, are finding inspiration from the clothes people wear because they couldn’t afford the flashy designer bits that we usually see celebrities wearing.
We have people like Bella Hadid stepping out looking like she just got her look in the local charity shop, when in reality her outfit probably costs more than most people's salaries
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much on board with the current trends we’re seeing. I just think it’s important to look at where this kind of fashion came from. The best thing about current fashion is that it’s so accessible. You can dress on trend with any budget at the moment which is amazing. Whether you’re shopping in charity shops, the high street or wearing designer looks, the current trends we’re seeing are inclusive to all. It’s about time we got rid of the flashy designer logo prints. The pressure to buy expensive designer pieces to be fashionable is definitely a thing of the past, which is great. Fashion should be accessible to everybody, no matter their class.
One thing I find hilarious is how everything is now sold with holes in the fabric. If you were to walk into Urban Outfitters right now, you would assume the place had an infestation of rats, because every single item is made to look worn and torn. This further feeds into the poverty “aesthetic”. If your clothes look like you borrowed them off your grandad, and they fell into a shredder, then you are at the peak of fashion right now.
The best thing about current fashion is that it’s so accessible. You can dress on trend with any budget at the moment which is amazing
It’s hard to call fashion that’s inspired by poverty an “aesthetic”. It makes it feel prejudiced against people that had no choice but to dress like that before it was picked up as trendy. The sustainable nature behind the current trends is really inspiring though. It’s about time we ditched the fast fashion brands and reused all of the clothes we already have. We also seem to be stepping away from the pressure to have designer branding on show. Everything seems to be a bit more toned down and discreet.
Anything goes at the moment, making current trends accessible to anyone and everyone. It is a bit rich to see wealthy people dress up as if they can’t afford clothes that don’t have rips in them, but that’s fashion for you.