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08-08-2007
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Embrace the death of cheap chic
Quote:
Embrace the death of cheap chic

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 08/08/2007


Buying fewer, more expensive clothes just makes more sense, says Linda Kelsey

I'm just back from a two-week holiday on the Costa del Sol. Flying Monarch to Malaga return cost me less than a hundred quid. My bill for excess baggage was £30 each way. Not such a bargain after all.

I blamed it all on the holiday reading - six fat books to see me through the fortnight. I didn't confess that I had actually sneaked the books, along with two sponge bags jammed with holiday potions and lotions, into my son's half-empty bag when he wasn't looking.

The truth was that my guilty suitcase was completely crammed with clothes. And my one consolation was that the girlfriend who travelled with me had to pay even more for excess baggage than I did - and she was only there for a week.

But the curse of the bulging suitcase may be about to crumble.

Fashion addicts, brace yourselves: after a decade of snips and steals and plummeting prices, it looks as though the cost of clothes is about to rise. In just a couple more years, according to Neil Saunders, from the research firm Verdict Consulting, fashion deflation will come to an abrupt end.

For more than a decade, while the cost of practically everything else has been going up, the price of clothing has been coming down, thanks mostly to cheap labour and production in countries such as India and China. But soon it won't be possible to source ever cheaper places to manufacture clothes.

Aside from the ethical benefits, this is no bad thing, as far as I'm concerned.

If willpower alone isn't going to stop me going on buying benders that extend my wardrobe beyond the hope of minimalist holiday-packing, an even bigger dent in my pocket just might.

I don't even class myself as a clothesaholic. But when I got back from Malaga, I did a stock-take of all the things I didn't wear, and these included: three bikinis (all last year's); three dresses (all brand new); two skirts; two pairs of trousers; seven T-shirts; seven pairs of summer sandals and flip-flops; and four bras.

In my less sane moments I blame the glory that is Zara, and the dollar-sterling exchange rate that enabled me to go on a rampage in New York earlier this year, binge-buying at Gap, J Crew and Banana Republic.

But I know it doesn't have to be this way. There was a time when I used to pay far more for my clothes, and had far fewer of them.

I can conjure up the silky feel and phenomenally flattering cut of a much-loved Giorgio Armani suit. Every now and then I remove from its pristine, orange cardboard box the black Hermès Kelly handbag that my husband bought me as a wedding gift. Sometimes I hold it aloft and blow it kisses; occasionally, I even use it.

I do know it's not sensible to spend £180 on a Pucci bikini when M&S has perfectly acceptable ones for £25, but that bikini I bought from Harvey Nicks in June is a beacon of beauty among my motley array of cut-price beachwear.

A Primark T-shirt doesn't have that Armani/Hermès/Pucci effect on me, especially after I've spent five minutes watching it unravel before my eyes, snipping frantically at bits of thread that have started to separate themselves from the garment they were meant to hold together.

I don't suppose my Kate Moss-inspired Topshop tank-tops will feature in the stories I tell my grandchildren, but that Hermès handbag just might.

Cheap doesn't always mean worse quality, though. My sister's Prada pullover bobbled alarmingly in a matter of weeks last winter, whereas my cashmere Zara cardi, at a fraction of the price, remained pristine despite repeated washing and wearing.

But I have also discovered that a well-cut pair of Joseph trousers or James jeans will spring back into shape with all the resilience of Jeffrey Archer, whereas cheap trousers sag and bag so quickly that even if your bottom is as pert as J-Lo's, it won't look it for long.

One of the biggest changes in fashion over the past decade has been the speed at which catwalk styles arrive in high-street shops. We can all get hold of affordable ''designer'' looks, so there's no feeling that there's a party going on in Bond Street to which we haven't been invited.

It's a democratisation that's hard to knock, unless you're the designer who's being knocked-off. Maybe we ought to pay just a little more for the privilege of the I-could-swear-it's-Marc-Jacobs coat.

There is another reason why I don't feel gloomy about the projected price hikes in the fashion industry. As a magazine editor between the mid-1980s and 1990s, rather like a City gent I had one immaculate trouser suit for each day of the week. The joy of it was getting dressed for work in two minutes.

Now I can't even trundle off to the supermarket without having to decide between eight pairs of jeans and six pairs of sweatpants. Too much choice. Too much greed. Call me perverse, but far from feeling it's fashion Armageddon, I think the end of cheap chic is something to welcome with open arms.

telegraph.co.uk


Last edited by Avant Garde; 08-08-2007 at 11:33 AM.
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08-08-2007
  2
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^ Love the article

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08-08-2007
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It fits the "4-5 pieces..." thread perfectly, thanks for postig

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08-08-2007
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Quote:
I don't suppose my Kate Moss-inspired Topshop tank-tops will feature in the stories I tell my grandchildren, but that Hermès handbag just might.
So true. So will the inflation affect designer clothes at all, or just the high-street variety?

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08-08-2007
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Quote:
I can conjure up the silky feel and phenomenally flattering cut of a much-loved Giorgio Armani suit.
yes-
well that is all well and good...
but even armani suits don't feel that way anymore...
the fabric quality has plummeted since the 80's...
and a suit that might have lasted 20 years will now last only five...

so the old adage of buying fewer pieces but better quality doesn't hold quite as true as it used to...

what it now comes down to is spending your money wisely and investing in the right pieces...
ie- a bikini can come from any cheap high street store...
mine is from old navy- i have several and no guilt about it because the prices are so low...
pants however MUST be invested in because cutting a good pair of pants is one of the most difficult things to do and the right cut, fit and fabric is worth the investment...

however- you don't need lots of them...
just a few great fitting bottoms and then you can change it up with different tops...
which- in turn...should cost less...

all this talk about zara really makes me want to head over there though......even though i haven't found anything there that fit me properly in several years......

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08-08-2007
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Designer prices go up all the time though...

I don't really know what to think of this in one way i think is good as I hate the 'cheap chic' look.. people that are buying just to buy and always need more, with price increases people might think twice before buying ' that black and white sequin dress'.

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08-08-2007
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^ good point

I love the article, but I do not see it happening anytime soon tho...

Cheap Chic has gone really overboard and I LOATHE it.

Maybe this is just the end of fashion, when fashion isn't worth much $$ anymore.

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09-08-2007
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It's the trappings of postmodernity. :/

Seriously though cheap chic isn't going to go away very soon and I think those who want quality will always want quality and won't seek out alternatives and aren't going to be swayed by cheaper prices.

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09-08-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Couture_Tribe View Post
Cheap Chic has gone really overboard and I LOATHE it.

Maybe this is just the end of fashion, when fashion isn't worth much $$ anymore.
not everyone can afford designer pieces, though

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10-08-2007
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This is the main reason I make an effort to make my own clothes most of the time, because the stuff that I want is too expensive and the cheap stuff is well, CHEAP!

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12-08-2007
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not everyone can afford a $700 blouse or $2000 day dress.

im trying to go from buying cheap clothes to buying quality clothes. but sometimes i need cheap clothes to get dirty in or to sweat in so i dont feel bad for ruining a $80 t-shirt.

im making an effort to buy quality stuff but sometimes i still make foolish choices buying more cheap stuff

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12-08-2007
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For the price of the Hermes bag she could buy as many Kate Moss tshirts she could make it in to the Guinness book and have sth to tell her grandchildrens about:-D

But I think she is right about "buying after thinking":-)

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12-08-2007
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Good article. But I disagree with the notion that quality means expensive. People should buy items that really stand out to them, whether they be from the thrift store, or from Bergdorf Goodman's. Also thought I should share this following quote (I forget which user said this, and on which thread, but ever since I've read it, I've found myself buying things I only really, really want and that look like it will last me a good while):

Quote:
If I won't buy for 60 dollars, then I shouldn't buy it for ten.
Or something like that.

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12-08-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MUXU View Post
not everyone can afford a $700 blouse or $2000 day dress.

im trying to go from buying cheap clothes to buying quality clothes. but sometimes i need cheap clothes to get dirty in or to sweat in so i dont feel bad for ruining a $80 t-shirt.

im making an effort to buy quality stuff but sometimes i still make foolish choices buying more cheap stuff
that's exactly how i feel. i wish i could go to a nice store and splurge on classic, staple pieces that will last me well into my twenties, but i'm 16, have no job, and my mom would never buy me a "plain" white shirt for even 60 dollars. thus, i have no choice but to shop at stores like forever 21, charlotte russe, and windsor.

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13-08-2007
  15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by educo View Post
the stuff that I want is too expensive and the cheap stuff is well, CHEAP!
I feel the same way too.

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