The appropriation of working class culture

Champion, Fila, kappa. We associate these brands with current trends, hefty prices and mainstream culture but has this always been the case? Thinking back to the 80s/90s this was the height of the sporting brands careers due to the obsession with vibrant colours, the increase in athleisure wear and the hip hop scenes clear influence over current mainstream trends. However, like most brands they go in and out of fashion leading to a clear decline in sales and popularity.

In the 2000s, these brands that were previously viewed as fashionable and current were now neglected and in some cases even looked down upon. Take Fila, once a thriving competitor in industry among other sporting brands such as Adidas and Nike were now seen as trashy and cheap. This led to a clear change in demographics due to its loss reputation and cheap prices it became a readily available brand specifically to the working class.

This resulted in a further decline in reputation as now the brands were completely associated with lower economic groups, a primary example is Burberry discontinuing their hats due to their popularity among ‘chavs’. The lower classes were often perceived to indulge in criminal/anti social behaviour hence further ‘damaging’ the brand and creating greater distance between themselves and the mainstream audience.

However, in recent years these brands have once again gained success through a mainstream audience. Arguably, this is due to the middle class participation and commodification within the subculture of grime as well as the popular trends, this was predominantly fashion and language. This is due to the mainstream popularity grime struck with artists such as Skepta and Stormzy in 2015. Hence the use of these once ‘trashy’ brands mostly worn by lower socioeconomic groups due to the more reasonable pricing was now used by some middle class groups in an attempt to gain status and join the new and upcoming trends.

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Now most of these brands are featured within popular stores i.e. urban outfitters which are perhaps some of the biggest trendsetters among current youth which reflect the current styles and crazes. This demonstrates the fluctuation of modern brands and the influence upper classes have over the fashion industry.

Words by Hollie Williams

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