Monday, 17 October 2011
Essex girls are breeding
They're breeding fashion ideas.
I gotta tell you, I've had run-ins with the mythological
'Essex girl' all femininity and a 4x4 to run you down.
I'll recount my experience with a housemate, some other day.
For now, we can see that the Essex sense of self and fashion
actually has a good side. Cash.
[they look strangely Russian, to me. That's not a bad thing.]
Forget London, Milan, New York and Paris – the only way for fashion is Essex
Faiers sisters from 'structured reality' TV show days away from selling own high-glamour clothing line in House of Fraser stores
Lauren Cochrane guardian.co.uk, Friday 14 October 2011 19.21 BST Article history
Billie and Sam Faiers at the launch of fellow TOWIE star Jessica Wright's lingerie line. Photograph: Mike Marsland/WireImage
The fashion world may have spent the past month focusing on London, Milan, New York and Paris to find the latest trends, but British consumers are looking to Essex, the biggest sartorial influence of 2011. The county's style has been shoved to the fore by The Only Way is Essex, the "structured reality" show now back with a third series.
And what style it is: the women featured in ITV2's series – also known as Towie – favour an ultra-glam look with false eyelashes for a sleep-over, heels for paintballing and Botox for the under-25s.
The wider public will soon be able to emulate the style of Towie's Lauren Goodger, Lauren Pope and Lydia Bright by buying items from the clothing line of the show's sisters Billie and Sam Faiers.
GraciEve, a "fast fashion" line featuring items retailing for £30-£90, is due to be launched at House of Fraser stores nationwide next Tuesday. The line has been financed entirely by the sisters' savings and created in partnership with Essex-based stylist Jeff Mehmet.
Its "Essex look" features short lengths, body-conscious shapes, and girly prints – and the collection was snapped up by Louise Bailey, House of Fraser's contemporary and young fashion brands buyer. "It was the right timing," Bailey said. "Essex is very on trend at the moment, isn't it? It's Essex chic. I can see it translating up north and in the rest of the country."
The Faiers run a clothes shop, Minnies, in Brentwood's high street, which has been featured in the show since the start of season two. It sells labels such as Forever Unique, and Maggie and Me, and has become a magnet for hen parties from Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.
The holding page of the Minnies Boutique website received 10m hits before it launched and the site had 380,000 hits in the first 10 minutes it was live. "The response is mad," said Sam. "There will be comments asking where we got anything we wear on the show, even if it is just a new Alice band."
Up until now there have been few Essex natives in the world of fashion apart from the designer Hannah Marshall and Harlow-born Victoria Beckham. But, after years of being the subject of ridicule and bad jokes, Essex girls are in the spotlight, and their look – evolved from the white stiletto 80s stereotype – is imitated across the UK.
The pavements of Chigwell "are now more influential than the catwalks of Milan when it comes to determining the tastes of a Britain's new flash-fashion brigade", said Martin Raymond, editor-in-chief of the Future Laboratory, a trend forecasting agency. Essex style is said by its champions to be inclusive as well as aspirational – and unapologetically funBritish way of dressing.
During last week's X Factor show, the judge Tulisa Contostavlos commented that "Essex is so current right now", and the . Towie stars have featured in fashion magazines including 10, Vogue, Grazia and i-D.
Amy Childs, who was named the "ultimate Essex girl" by the magazine, has already left TOWIE and is set to star in her own show, All About Amy, next year.
Though the Faiers sisters did not train in fashion they say their retail background allows them to move into design.
A career change could yet be a shrewd move: Towie has had falling viewer figures (down 40% from the million who watched the new series' first episode) and rumours of a new MTV reality show, based in east London, surfaced on the fashion website Vice this week.
Other Towie stars are also keen to make use of the show's popularity while it lasts. Jess Wright launched a lingerie line called With Love, Jessica on the show last week, and Nicola Goodger who appeared in season two, has produced a range of Essex-themed T-shirts with slogans such as: "My heart belongs to Essex but the rest of me is up for grabs."
The Faiers insist that GraciEve is not "cashing in" on all the publicity but is a long-term plan. "I'd like it to be an empire," Sam said.
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