Eh up, working class industrial chic. Where’s me whippet?

Last month, the political bloggers and columnists had a brief spasm of bemusement and horror when Burton menswear was reported to have launched a new capsule collection based on Arthur Scargill. “Class wardrobe!” quipped the Morning Star. “Perhaps the beginning of a new persona for him,” joshed the Huffington Post. “Words fail me,” said the libertarian blog Samizdata, “but I am not making this up.”

In fact they were making it up, because the designer, a Royal College of Art menswear student called Liam Hodges, said only that he had been partly inspired by 1984 TV footage of striking miners. Nevertheless, anyone wishing to be re-outraged by bizarre clothing/mining links has not had to wait long; last week, Black Dog Publishing announced Mining Couture: A Manifesto for Common Wear, a book by artists Steve Swindells and Claire Barber that “explores the relationship between coal mining history and fashion”.

Source: the Guardian.

Brendan O’Neill is not convinced:

In the past, being working-class was seen as something that could be transcended, through individual initiative or more pertinently through collective action that would transform society and get rid of the category of working class entirely. The old class radicals foresaw a time where there wouldn’t be a working-class. Not today’s radicals. Today, the transformation of being working-class into a cultural identity, rather than simply a predicament some people find themselves in, reveals just how conservative the new pro-working class outlook really is. Its message is not “Overcome your predicament and your poverty” but rather “Be proud of your predicament and poverty”; it isn’t “Transcend your class” – it’s “Celebrate your working classness”.


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