Cheap Chic

The reading that really stood out for me this week was Pham’s “The Right to Fashion in the Age of Terrorism.” What I found most interesting was her exploration of phenomena “cheap chic,” and it’s ties to consumerism, freedom, and capitalism post 9/11. I was only 11 when 9/11 took place and I all I remember of the time was the event being broadcasted on every television and the worried faces of adults. I was just a kid, I really had zero understanding of fashion at the time, except that certain stylish clothing was become more important to my peers, which was a first. I was still wearing whatever my mom happened to feel like buying me at the time. What’s interesting is that during this time, according to Phams article, fashion was becoming an important tool for the nation and it was also a time when my peers were just beginning to stress how important certain types of clothes were. I remember my friends talking about certain must-have brands that would be considered forms of mass produced cheap chic today.


While Pham mentions that cheap chic was prevalent before 9/11, she specifically mentions Mossimo’s brand at Target, yet she stresses that post 9/11 the persuasive language surrounding cheap chic was used to stress that it was a democratic right that “Everywoman” have access to fashion (400-401). However, as Pham argues, there was a shift in which the mass production of cheap fashion was not helping the nation, but was detrimental. Now, consumers are expected to pay more for fashion. While there still exists many magazines that promote getting a certain look for cheap, it is promoted by those same magazines that those looks are the most important and purchasing designer clothing would be best if possible. However, not “Everywoman” can purchase certain designer clothing. So for now, they must either buy the lesser “cheap chic” and aspire to own designer clothing, or, use their credit cards and incur massive amounts of debt to live above their means. Today, there is so much emphasis on owning the right brand and looking the right way, I wish I could go back to being a kid wear what my mom bought me.

Kristy Wilson


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