The millennial-pink pound: a right-on fashion phenomenon

30/ago/2017 11.10.03 charlotteone Contatta l'autore

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Over the past 12 months, this light shade of pink has come to represent the socially enlightened values of young adults – and, naturally, a new wave of retailers has seized on the aesthetic as a way to flog clothes

Babe Power is the fastest-selling female fragrance of 2017. It comes in an 80ml rose gold “can”, costs £28 and claims to smell of absinthe, moss and candy floss. It’s the honk of the candy floss that stays with you, though, clinging to your sleeve with resolve hours after application. The debut perfume from British brand Missguided, it describes its wearers as “babes!”. A more accurate description may be “anosmic”. Babe Power might smell of cake, but it is also the smell of modern girl power – and money. The first run of stock sold out in three hours.

Missguided launched as a clothing brand online in 2005, although it barely registered until earlier this year. A steady barrage of TV ads, tube posters and odd tie-ins later – such as handing out free cans of Lucozade to commuters – saw sales rise by 70% last year. In the past year, it expanded from a website to actual stores, opening its first concession in Manchester in late 2016 and a flagship branch at Westfield Stratford, in east London, later that year. Love Island contestants do in-store appearances. Model Jourdan Dunn has just designed a line and the brand collaborated with Barbie for a sold-out collection. The whole enterprise is now worth more than £200m, propelling its founder, Nitin Passi, a thirtysomething internet entrepreneur, into the Sunday Times Rich List.

You may have heard of the millennial pound and the pink (gay) pound – but this is the millennial-pink pound. A new demographic defined by a colour that has become ubiquitous in the past 12 months – as well as the politics of the age.

Missguided and others have tapped into a curious territory of twentysomething customers with an ethos that is new to the fashion industry. They see themselves as modern, independent, Insta-savvy would-be feminists – which is why Missguided’s greatest triumph is probably its slogan tees. The message of female empowerment might be a little muddied – a “free the nipple” vest uses a nipple ring attached to the T-shirt in lieu of an actual nipple – but, for young women, it straddles the difficult territory between fashion, feminism and social media.

At the Stratford store, millennial pink is a dominant theme, seen on everything from the stairs and the curtains in the changing rooms to the walls and even mannequins’ wigs. Cavernous and cluttered, this huge two-storey floorspace is filled with vinyl dresses, logo swimsuits and other paraphernalia. It’s an intimidating shop full of club-intensity music and unicorns. Today, a Frank Ocean remix plays loudly. In the centre, a giant pink flamingo looms over the swimwear section – to the left, above a sale rail, sit three gold pineapples. One T-shirt reads “Feminist AF”. On every wall, and every T-shirt, empowerment is writ large. Often in the ubiquitous Avante Garde font. The entire place is both designed to be documented on social media and inspired by the motifs of the medium.

Then there are the clothes. Slogan tees are one thing. Longline T-shirts with cyrillic slogans quite another. Off the catwalk, Russian street-wear is a leftfield trend and yet here Russian phrases are on T-shirts (roughly translated, they say “girl power”). Elsewhere, bra tops with Roman numerals on the straps echo the current season of Dior.

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