Ugh, dressing stylish these days is so pricey. But most of us like to belong to something, even if we don’t like to admit it. In other words, if you wanted to belong to a certain “counterculture” in the past, then you probably wouldn’t have been required to fork out large amounts of money, however nowadays if you search up “alt”, you will be bombarded with clothing, home decro and more. Which is obviously going to come with a price tag.
The History of “Alternative”
Of course “alternative” has been around long before this, but we will begin with the Teddy Boys, who arose after WW2. After emerged the infamous rivals, “mods and rockers”. Mods generally united over music while rockers grouped together over their love for motorbikes. All 3 of these groups were predominantly working class . However by the mid 60s, Mods became more influenced by pop art, attracting a middle class base. This led to some of the originals feeling detached, forming new group which eventually became known as the “skinheads”.
So how Has Being Alternative Become More Expensive
Unlike a good number of “alt” groups in the past who would purchase their garments cheaply from thrift stores, only really replacing them when they were falling apart, nowadays there’s generally more focus on the style. Lets just take the recent E-Girl/E-Boy, were there’s significant focus on the style and aesthetic. As you can guess, keeping up with the style is likely to be pricey making it harder for people on lower incomes to be part of it. However those interested in this style, may also be interested in other “alt” styles; like grunge, indie, punk etc, so they are still able to listen to the music and be involved in general alternative culture. Yet the stylish aspect is now a big part, which those on lower incomes may lose out from.
The gentrification of Alternative fashion
Once upon a time buying from thrift/charity stores was often frowned upon and usually people would only shop from these places if they needed to. But now due to the rise of online stores like depop, and the increased focus on sustainably, there has been a significant rise in demand for purchasing second hand clothing. This in itself should be really positive, as it means less goes to waste, and there’s less exploitation of resources. However this hasn’t come without its problems. That’s because some sellers have brought up lodes of garments from charity stores, only to sell them on online stores at an inflated price. Not only this but low quality clothing from places like boohoo also get brought then get sold at a much higher price. Therefore depop becomes contaminated with high priced goods, making it much harder for people to source something affordable. Whilst the amount of stock found in the charity stores is reduced making it harder for those in search of clothing there to buy it.
It could be contested that the reason could simply be because consumerism is an even bigger force now than it was in the past. This means that “buying things” is going to be important to many, even if they belong to a kind of counterculture. Moreover I would argue that because of the rise of the internet, there is now far more room for targeted advertising, therefore more people who want to dress a certain way are going to be bombarded with adverts helping them on the way. As this continues, alternative people will naturally become more interested in looking a certain way, and buying more will become more common, because that is what has always been known.
So to what degree is this actually true
So we have seen there is now far more focus on the visual aesthetic meaning there is more focus on things which obviously involve expenses . However the idea that alternative is now purely based upon looks, is far from the truth, as sure those who are “truly alternative” would agree on. But work does need to be done to ensure everyone can feel included, regardless of wealth.