being rich isn’t the only way to have cool clothes

9 mins
26 May 2023
being rich isn’t the only way to have cool clothes

Plus Dua Lipa’s Barbiecore Versace collab, Martine Rose for Clarks, Prada’s adidas football boots, and more!

image Gossip Girl / The CW

words Sophie Lou Wilson

Happy Friday fashion fans! We’re back again with fresh dispatches from planet mode. This week, the new collection from Dua Lipa and Versace is giving Barbiecore and butterflies while Prada and adidas have cooked up some pitch perfect football boots for all the football fashion fans out there. Lastly, Martine Rose is Clarks's first guest creative director, designing three shoes for the iconic brand that will debut at her London Fashion Week show next month.

But, first, who has the right to access to cool clothes? This question has been doing the rounds this week after independent designer Rachel Ellenbogen posted about the embroidered beaded bag that took her 15-17 hours to make. Then when the prices of Dua Lipa’s Versace collection went live, it added more fuel to the fire. Granted, one is an independent designer working on her own and the other is a major luxury brand, but both led to conversations about entitlement, classism and elitism in fashion. Below, we explore how being rich isn’t the only way to have cool clothes along with all the feel good fashion news you might have missed this week.

Who has the right to access cool clothes?

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The cozzy livs is hitting us all in one way or another. Well, not all of us. Some people are still spending £18,000 on Versace dresses. Now, this isn’t fair – eat the rich and all that – but when people are struggling to access basic necessities like food and shelter, complaining about not being able to afford designer fashion feels a little tasteless (and that’s coming from someone who looks up the prices of Chopova Lowena skirts when I’m in the mood for a cry.)

When creator Rachel Ellenbogen showed her TikTok followers the intricately beaded bag that took her 17 hours to make, commenters complained that $990 was too expensive and she should lower the price because it was inaccessible to them. People were questioning the cost of the materials and the way the bag was made. One comment reads, “Very talented but the price could get me like 3 outfits at least.” However, after the bag went viral, these negative comments were buried beneath positive ones and preorders for the bag sold out in just two days.

Fast fashion has skewed our perception of the value of clothes. Independent creators like Ellenbogen deserve to be paid for their labour. Creating fashion is time consuming and expensive. If we believe in paying artists for their work, we shouldn’t demand that they reduce their prices under the guise of inclusivity and accessibility. Real people put lots of work and love into their products and that’s what you’re paying for, for something that was made by hand rather than mass produced in the cheapest way possible.

Fast fashion brands have made it possible for us to buy into every single microtrend for next to nothing. This has resulted in a mentality where we feel entitled to take part in every trend, but it’s not normal for clothes to be that cheap. When you see a T-shirt for £5, you know that people are being exploited somewhere along that supply chain. Fashion keeps getting easier, cheaper and faster, but if you want something truly worth cherishing, the process is often painstaking and dream pieces are sometimes more expensive than you would ideally like them to be. You’re not just paying for a product, but for the talent, effort, enjoyment, love, energy and commitment that was put into making it.

When Dua Lipa’s Versace collaboration went live this week, Dua’s fans were quick to lament the inaccessibility of the price tags. However, the reasons why major luxury brands charge so much for their clothes are slightly different. Prices reflect the social, cultural and historical value held by a particular brand. The dresses in the Dua Lipa collection are expensive, even by Versace standards – they are the three most expensive dresses on site with the most expensive one an eye watering £18,480 – but it’s not surprising that the brand wants to cash in on the pop star’s fame, even if it shuts out the majority of her fanbase.

Essentially, fashion sells us a dream and luxury fashion is elitist by nature. Prices aren’t just decided based on quality, but on social capital, legacy, history, cultural value and the type of clientele the brand wishes to attract. This can feel alienating and/or dispiriting at times. It’s one reason why some people disengage from luxury fashion altogether. If you want to buy into a luxury brand, there are usually some more accessible entry points like makeup, perfume and eyewear, which is where these brands typically make most of their money. You can also wait until items go on sale or look on resale sites to get designer clothes for less. Saving up for a piece you love makes it more special, increasing its sentimental value to you personally.

However, wealth doesn’t equal style – just Google some of Jeff Bezo’s horrendous ‘fits and reflect on what you really think about the fashion in Succession. Not being able to afford every fashion item we love also forces us to be more resourceful and creative. Recreating runway looks using what’s already in your wardrobe or by going thrifting is part of what makes getting dressed fun. Some newer luxury brands are focused on more accessible price points as part of their vision of inclusivity and desire to give back to their own communities. Earlier this year, Telfar introduced a subversive live pricing model where the more popular a product is, the cheaper it will be. This is in line with its reasonably priced designer bags and their slogan, ‘Not for you – for everyone.’ Meanwhile, fellow New Yorker Raol Lopez of Luar also decided to price his clothes and accessories at a more affordable price point than other luxury brands. The brand’s slogan, ‘For the culture’ reflects Lopez’s desire to make his clothes accessible to the communities he came from and who continue to inspire him. In London, Sinead Gorey has also settled on a price point with her community in mind, the fellow ravers who influence her rainbow hued cut-out designs. However, starting an independent fashion brand is tough and not every designer can afford to lower the prices of their clothes.

Inclusivity and accessibility are important goals that the fashion industry should work to achieve, but we risk undermining them when we use that language just to complain about something being too expensive for us personally. Buying cool clothes is a choice, not a birthright. We’re not entitled to non-essential nice things. Suggesting that we are turns the conversation into one about the ethics of expensive clothes rather than the ethics of cheaply produced products made in sweatshops. You don’t need to be incredibly wealthy to buy trendy, ethical clothes. You can capture the essence of a designer look or collection using what’s already in your wardrobe or thrifting online or IRL. Judging the prices of independent creators and luxury brands against race to the bottom prices fast fashion prices is ultimately futile, but where we choose to put our money – however much or little we have of it – can be a reflection of our values, showing that we respect the love and the process that goes into creating clothes more than we yearn to hop on every single trend.

The Dua Lipa Versace collab is giving Barbiecore and butterflies

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Cannes Film Festival has no shortage of major fashion moments, but this year, Dua Lipa and Versace upstaged them all. Touching down in the French Riviera earlier this week, the superstar collaboration was a high glam affair replete with Barbiecore power suits, bold polka dots and metallic butterfly embellished cowboy boots. Buckle details referenced the Versace archive while monogram beachwear felt perfect for settling into summer. Colourful gold plated butterfly jewellery added some playful, elevated glam. In a quote that sounds like it could have come directly from Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie, in which Dua Lipa will star, Dua told Vogue, “Glamour is a sparkle that comes from within. It’s an energy. It’s the way you carry yourself, and clothes just help to express this energy.”

Clarks announce Martine Rose as its first guest creative director

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Have you ever found a feeling better than getting your foot measured at Clarks at the end of the summer holidays? Us neither, but we reckon wearing a Martine Rose Clarks shoe will come pretty close. The British-Jamaican designer has become the iconic shoe brand’s first guest creative director. “Clarks is something that’s so intrinsic to British culture and Jamaican culture because of the Commonwealth,” Rose told WWD. “There are a couple of British brands that are really big in Jamaica because Britishness is a sign of quality so it takes on a life of its own, like a myth.” Rose will design three shoes including a classic loafer, Oxford shoe and sandal in black, oxblood and snakeskin. The shoes will debut during the Martine Rose runway show at London Fashion Week next month before going on sale in March 2024.

Can I kick it? Prada’s adidas football boots are here

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If you love football as much as you love fashion, you’ll be delighted by Prada’s adidas football boots. Combining Prada’s minimalist design codes with adidas’ high-performance football technologies, each boot has a lining and upper crafted from premium leather. We might have asked if rugby was replacing football as fashion’s favourite sport, but football clearly isn’t going anywhere. The football boots, which come in white, silver and black, are available now for £500 each.

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