Is cheap really chic? Have you started replacing designer with a bargain brand?

KYLYA friend of mine was recently approached to head up the company of a super cheap fashion brand but after leaving a far more expensive brand he said “yeah but it’s so cheap, what would I do with it?”  I fired back “are you serious, what wouldn’t you do with it?”

We went on to have this fabulous conversation about how things had changed dramatically over the last decade purely and simply because even those that once had plenty of cash, just don’t anymore.

Perfect example of this was late last year, at the birthday lunch of a very chic social woman who gathered together 50 of her friends to celebrate.  Now, aside from my good self and a small handful of others, these women are always immaculately dressed and are perceived to have the best of the best when it comes to everything.

Somehow, one woman asked another about where she got her scarf and when she replied “Chanel” the rest of the group ended up in an affectionate joke asking her if she’d dropped something, meaning, she’d dropped a name which clearly has begun to be seen as more out of reach than perhaps half a dozen years ago.  Any expensive, once aspirational fashion labels worn at the birthday became part of the ongoing joke of the day which really proved to me one thing, high end brands are not as necessary anymore and cheap is the new chic which will not crush your status anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, there are so many brands I’d love to have in my closet that I simply can’t afford but I have learnt from my mother who was way ahead of her time as the single mum having to make the best of what she had, if it looks good and it costs bugger all then how cool is that?

My mum always had friends decked out in designer brands but she was never embarrassed to say when asked what she had on that she’d gone it somewhere and it was seriously dirt-cheap and I love that I’m seeing this same attitude within all sorts of money bracket types.

Target was one of the first genius brands that recognised through perhaps their sales figures showed that people who once wouldn’t be seen dead going into Target were now sneaking in the door.

They recognised that big designers like Stella McCartney, Roberto Cavalli, Collette Dinnigan and others were having to roll with the financial times so why not approach them to do a great range and an affordable price?  And they did and it hasn’t hurt any of their brands.  It’s probably helped them survive.

The great thing too for brands within Australian is that celebrities are also feeling the financial crunch which means that there’s a heap of them flapping around more than willing to do a deal for a lot less than you’d think.  Having a celebrity bring some sort of identity to a brand is a clever way to go.  If it’s someone you like, then you’ll take notice and if it’s a brand that might need a well-known clotheshorse to show you that it can actually look good, despite the bargain price then that’s surely a major win-win for us all.

Local iconic brand Harris Scarfe’s PR team, lead by Chris Kontos, haven’t wasted any time in getting savvy about the cheap is chic phenomenon by hiring gorgeous Kyly Clarke to show off their affordable range.  A genius move to have someone marries to a cricket legend, who probably can afford designer pieces but by representing Harris Scarfe women’s wear shows there is nothing to be ashamed of in spending small no matter who you are.

Surely if it looks good and you’re guilt free, then what on earth’s wrong with that? And if you’re the type terrified you’ll lose some social status, good news is you won’t, so stop being so bitchy to that lovely $20 note.


15 thoughts on “Is cheap really chic? Have you started replacing designer with a bargain brand?

  1. From: hollie
    Subject: its so chic not to waste money article

    Message Body:
    i still cant afford an $80 stella mccartney design from target so i dont think youve quite hit the spot with your article….maybe hot options from target. why dont you specify who youre talking about….its not single mothers i gather…at least from this era

    This mail is sent via contact form on Amber Petty

  2. amber petty
    9:46 AM (2 hours ago)

    to hollie
    the point of the article was to highlight that cheap brands are now cool not for me to then specify every cheap brand in Australia. I’m sure you know many of them, and most people would surely be able to fill in those dots for themselves I believe. It’s also about what is cheap to you so if a Stella McCartney Target item is not cheap enough then perhaps the rest of their line is OR another brand like say Cotton On, Big W, Rubi shoes, whatever. And yes it is of course including single mothers. The article as I think it reads is talking about people that once spent more on their clothes, now opting for cheaper items that they never would have considered before.

  3. Hi Amber, interesting piece! I’m a big advocate of “living within one’s means” as I prefer the idea of financial security to credit card stress! So I love shopping at op shops and pretty much always buy things on sale. The concern I have with “cheap fashion” is whether the workers who made them were exploited. If jeans cost $15, how much was the worker paid/ what conditions were they working in? I admire stores that pass on the cost savings to customers as I’ve been told that most big brands use the same overseas factories to manufacture their clothes but some stores still charge a premium in order to sustain a profitable business.

    Personally I try to buy good quality (which doesn’t always mean expensive brands) but within my price bracket. I feel like those items last longer, make me feel great when I wear them and simply feel yummy to wear! I’ve recently come across Sosume who make great Eco-friendly tees, ethically, in Australia for under $30 << love.

    • Hi Cheryl,

      Nice to hear from you! Thank you so much for sharing your SoSume tip – I will be looking them up for sure. You are right of course that some of those cheap brands are not doing the back end human side of things as well as we’d probably like if we were aware. But yes I’m trying to get better at ‘living within one’s means’ as I can get a bit messy at times although that’s as an overall financial thing but I’ve always LOVED shopping cheap and finding a great buy for a little price. It’s so fun when you come across a shop you’ve never heard of before and find all these great things and then walk out of the store with piles of things….within the added issue of walking out with hideous guilt and self loathing. Love your site by the way!

  4. Amber Petty Is it Tammy? I’ve never been into that section but have seen it. Thanks for the tip. i LOVE finding great cheapies. Always have.x
    2 minutes ago · Like

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