Tag Archives: poverty

Slumming It

The Atlantic Cities on London’s re-emergent ‘sheds with beds’.

We recently contributed to Feargus O’Sullivan’s piece in The Atlantic Cities, about the return of slum living to London. David Cameron’s Middle-England-vote-catching proposal to relax planning laws (UPDATE: currently under parliamentary review) may only exacerbate the issue. Here’s an excerpt:

All over London, so-called sheds with beds have been cropping up like toadstools, presented to planning authorities as family home extensions but then surreptitiously rented out to strangers. Many of these are poky warrens let out to the desperate, part of the growing number of Londoners who have lost hope of gaining social housing and are forced to make do with whatever they can get. The government has vowed to tear down these new shanties, with UK housing minister Grant Shapps and some press cameras even joining in a raid on one. It is unlikely that they would be such a problem, however, if the government hadn’t cut funding for social housing by 50 percent, pushing poor renters into the private sector.

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The New York Times celebrates ‘Dumpster Dressing’

Clearly, you can never be too poor (looking) and too thin.

Not quite up there with Elle Decoration’s ‘soweto chic’ article from 2002 – sample text:

Stricken by apartheid, Soweto’s townships were once a feared part of Johannesburg. Now they’re a source of dynamic design. Time to ditch the leopard-print clichés, we think.

But still, looks like the ‘poor people are so damn stylish’ fashion angle has made an unwelcome return.

In an article about the very un-fat and un-poor olsen twins’ prediliction for baggy clothing, the New York Times writes:

The new look has acquired a name: Bobo style. "You know, bohemian bourgeois," explained Kathryn Neal, 28, a freelance writer in New York, who is partial to billowing Alexander McQueen pirate shirts worn with beat-up jeans. "Bobo" is borrowed from the title of a five-year-old work of pop sociology, "Bobos in Paradise" by David Brooks, now an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times. He used the term to describe a breed of well-heeled consumers who bashed materialism while embracing all manner of luxury.

Lauren Stover, the author of "Bohemian Manifesto: A Field Guide to Living on the Edge" (Bulfinch Press, 2004), has noticed the trend, which has cropped up in moneyed communities from Beverly Hills to the Upper West Side, where young women wear grandma’s crocheted shawl, moth-eaten cashmere sweaters and scuffed cowboy boots. "It’s perfectly fine to look like a bag lady," Ms. Stover said.

My favourite bit:

People are tapped out on luxury," said Thakoon Panichgul, a young designer who incorporated bohemian frayed hems and disintegrating brocades in the collection for fall 2005 that he showed in New York last month. "We need to reinvent luxury in a more surprising way," he added, or at least treat it irreverently. He mentioned how Miuccia Prada once memorably wore her diamond necklace inside out to show off the backs of the stones. "That was subversive," Mr. Panichgul said, "It made you question the whole concept of luxury.”

See also Zoe Williams writing in The Guardian in 2002 on poverty chic .

Nicked from post on gawker.com.

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