Money can't buy you grunge

TO THE fashion world, 'grunge' is the look of the moment. Since November, when Christian Francis Roth and Marc Jacobs, two American designers barely known in Europe, showed their new collections in New York, no catwalk has been complete without its version of the dressed-down Seventies' hippie style.

But grunge is a thrift-shop fashion adopted by those who cannot afford designer labels. Marc Jacobs's new collection for Perry Ellis, sold by A La Mode in Knightsbridge, London, includes zip-up sweatshirts for pounds 195, silk jersey trousers for pounds 285, and jackets for pounds 495.

So are the New York designers cashing in on poverty by reproducing grunge in luxury fabrics with prices to match? It's certainly a long way from the low-budget philosophy of the original grunge movement, invented in the late Eighties to describe the style of rock groups such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden from Seattle. The grunge bands are deeply suspicious of this latest interaction between two powerful strands of popular culture.

But fashion has been here before. In the Seventies it took punk, another 'anti-fashion' style associated with a musical movement, and turned it into haute couture.

Fashion commentators say that grunge is a genuine sign of change: a reaction against power dressing in the dress-for-success years. The musicians believe that it is simply a sanitised and snob version of their look.

Jeff Ament, bassist with Pearl Jam, has accused designers of 'jumping on a bandwagon' to 'make a mint'. The way he dresses has nothing to do with fashion, or with making an anti-fashion statement. 'Ever since I've lived here, I've known people who went to thrift shops because they had to,' he told Harper's Bazaar, the US fashion bible. And to show the fashion 'bandwagon' that he is serious, he has stopped wearing the flannel shirts that are quintessential grunge.

'There's something creepy about taking the whole Salvation Army sort of aesthetic and marketing it with a designer name,' agreed Kim Thayil, guitarist with Soundgarden.

In London, the youngsters who popularised the look are on the side of the musicians - if they accept that there is a look at all. In Camden market, north London, Jacinta Stringer, 24, unemployed and wearing a plaid jacket, ripped jeans and Doc Marten boots, said: 'I'm not grunge. Is that what you think I am?'

Kerry Hagger, 21, a travel agent, in a shaggy jumper from Nepal and cotton trousers from Chipie, looked blank: 'Never heard of it]'

Lorraine Macdonald, 20, a student from Inverness, wearing a big plaid coat from C&A, jeans from BhS, and walking boots from Berghaus, offered a definition: 'It means wearing comfortable clothes that you throw on without trying to co-ordinate. It means not using make-up and not bothering about how your hair looks.'

Pete Millac, 24, a chef, agreed: 'Grunge meant not worrying about your appearance and not spending any money on clothes. Now it's hip it's ridiculous. You read about it in magazines like Elle, and the clothes cost a fortune. Grunge is as low-grade as you can find. Or at least it was before the fashion people got their hands on it.'

By the original definition, Mr Millac was out-and-out grunge, wearing a battered leather jacket which he said he had found, a check shirt that cost pounds 1 in Brixton market, a pounds 2 scarf from Camden market and jeans. What did he think of those who paid thousands to achieve a similar look? 'If people want to spend their money on looking bad, that's fine by me.'

DESIGNER GRUNGE: pounds 2,000

HERS

She is wearing Ikat denim coat, price pounds 1,050; suede waistcoat, pounds 195; T-shirt, pounds 95; shirt around waist, pounds 520; and trousers, pounds 170. Grand total, pounds 2,030.

REAL GRUNGE: pounds 45

HIS

He is wearing beanie hat, pounds 2; plaid flannel shirt, pounds 3; hooded sweatshirt, pounds 8, jeans, pounds 12; and trainers, pounds 20. Grand total: pounds 45.

(Photographs omitted)

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
peopleFilm star says he is 'not interested in making money anymore'
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Chastain during an interview in Los Angeles.
filmsOscar hopeful Jessica Chastain reveals the secret to her breakthrough success
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

News
news
Life and Style
Meow! ... Again, Kim Kardashian goes for a sexy Halloween costume, wrapping her body with a latex catsuit and high heeled knee boots
fashionFrom Heidi Klum to Kim Kardashian
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
Sport
footballAccording to revelations from Sergio Aguero's new biography
Life and Style
tech

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker