I am not noted for my sartorial elegance, nor for my interest in fashion matters; but, whilst crossing Manchester city centre the other day, my eye was caught by two young people dressed in what I would term Oxfam chic. The phrase deriving from the need of young people to dress stylishly, yet affordably, by searching out second hand clothes emporiums and charity shops. Indeed this was a method of clothing I adopted whilst a student nurse - though, if you ask Mrs C, it was more Oxfam than chic. I was known to wear an ensemble consisting of a RAF great coat, boilerhouse overalls or any other combination of mismatched, discarded garments adopted and adapted from Oldham's flea market. So it was with a fond smile that I viewed these two happy young people tripping carefree through the city streets. Until, that is, I spotted the carrier bag over the arm of the pretty young female; a bag emblazoned with the logo of Viviene Westwood.
"Isn't she one of those fancy expensive designers?" I asked myself; and getting no comprehensible reply hopped off to the expensive part of town to do some journalistic research on behalf of my readers.
Stepping out of my comfort zone (Marks and Spencer) and into the hallowed halls of Harvey Nicholls (where I felt I ought to pay just to cross the threshold), not finding what I wanted and having the burning gaze of people who could tell at a glance that I didn't belong, I left and continued my research in the classy part of town around King St and St Anne's Square. There I found Hervia; a quick peep through the window and I knew immediately that the down at heel appearance of my two student types was nothing more than an expensive copy of the real thing.
Needing reassurance that all was not lost in the world of clothes, I trecked back across town to the seamier, but far more interesting area around Oldham Street - where, incidentally, sits my most favourite of shop names: a body modification and piercing parlour entitled 'Holier than thou' - and went into Affleck's Palace the home of alternative clothing, alternative jewellery, alternative music and alternative haircuts. I sighed happily, transported for a moment back to my youth, as I saw that Oxfam Chic still existed and far surpassed the expensive imitations of King St.