Cheap chic, doncha just love it? Well actually, no I don’t. Where once New Look, TopShop and H&M ruled, now it’s Primark, Peacocks and George that high street snobs delight in flaunting to their pals – ‘Look, £5 from Primarni!’ Yet, multiply those £5 tops and £10 dresses by 15 (two tops on payday, a quick lunchtime fix frock, another Friday evening frock to wear at the weekend…you see where this is going don’t you?), and that’s around £100 a month wasted on throwaway tat that you’ll be bored of before you’ve got it home. It’s not uncommon for many people to find clothes still unworn with tags intact weeks later because they ‘couldn’t be bothered to take it back’. Well quel surpris! At those prices, it’s hardly worth the time it takes. It’s rare to find a cheap-chic piece that you love so much you’ll wear it to death because the throwaway nature of them means they’re trend pieces designed to be worn in the here and now – you know, all those circle print tunic tops, primary-hued trapeze dresses and catwalk copy slogan tees. You won’t want to wear them in the future because their time will have passed. But how will you create your own style if all you buy is 3-month wonders? Surely the joy of having your own look is teaming new pieces with older love-worn staples from seasons past? It’s the difference between Kate Moss, the mistress of mix-and- match and Victoria Beckham, the buy-it-now queen.
In fact, the backlash has already begun. Middle market ranges like All Saints, Karen Millen and Reiss which struggled while the value brands dominated, are on the up again acknowledging that customers have become more discerning and want better quality and more individuality. And the high street is upping its game as well. River Island and Miss Selfridge’s autumn/winter collections are both big on detail and expensive fabrics (the trickiest elements for cheaper brands to emulate) raising their price points slightly to set them apart from their cheap-chic rivals. As the luxury end of the fashion hierarchy targets the uber-rich, so the high street is doing the same lower down the food chain. Surely all this is good for the planet too? You may pay more at the outset but if you’re wearing it for longer there’s less waste involved. Conclusion – buy less stuff, rediscover your old fashion favourites and learn to revive and revamp for an individual new you!