Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has approved of the thin white singlet worn by the kopi tiam (Singlish for coffee shop) as a fashion statement.
Who would have thought!
Now the singlet, better known in fashion speak as the tank top, is changing its price bracket rapidly.
From just S$2.90 at the stall in Chinatown, it is US$1,000 (S$1,428) under the Prada brand. The Italian house unveiled the white, triangle-plaque logo tank top featuring a scoop neck at its Fall/Winter 2022 show. The tank was worn by Kaia Gerber who opened the show.
The versatile tank later climbed to the top of the wish list for many fashion fans, becoming the must-have “It Girl” item. It was even spotted outside the shows at New York Fashion Week in September.
Celebrities like Markle, Olivia Wilde and even Kourtney Kardashian have appeared in varying versions. Even one of the current most-loved actresses in Bollywood Sara Ali Khan can be seen in white tank top And distressed jeans. At home, TV actress Joanne Peh often dons a white tank top and jeans.
The Age also reported that the budget approach was also taken by Markle when launching her Spotify podcast Archetypes in August, wearing a US$39 (S$56) white tank top from US retailer J Crew in her promotional portrait. Early September, she splurged US$379 (S$541) on an Anine Bing sweater tank top for the Düsseldorf Invictus Games One Year to Go event.
Glorifying the fashion of the working class
Fashion can be defined as the style of clothing and accessories worn by groups of people at any one time and it is the fashion industry that has a knack for taking everyday, affordable items and producing versions beyond most budgets.
From ripped denim jeans to canvas sneakers, while mass clothing stores are still trying to rid themselves of excess inventory, shoppers are willing to pay more for these basics as soon as a brand name has been sewn on them.
A pair of distressed jeans from Chinese online fast fashion store SHEIN costs S$26, or better yet, at Giordano it costs S$19.20; but young shoppers prefer to fork out US$1,660 (S$2,370) for a pair from Versace.
And instead of a pair of Bata canvas sneakers for just S$34, many GenZs prefer to pay more than double for a pair of Vans or Converse. Some would even pay as much as US$1,560 (S$2,228) to Italian brand Golden Goose. In a 2019 article in Vogue Business, the attention to streetwear is no longer casual. Instead, it has become the age of the billion-dollar industry, targeting the Millennials and GenZs.
The influence of the younger generation
In a 2018 article in Forbes magazine, Millennial and Gen Z marketing expert Jeff Fromm wrote that Gen Z is becoming the largest generation of consumers from 2020, accounting for $29 to $143 billion in direct spending and more than 9 in 10 parents today say their children influence family and household purchases. This translates to a significant proportion of overall market spending due to these youths.
They may be getting their first paychecks or are just entering university, but studies have shown that the GenZs are more impulsive in their shopping habits than older generations.
It has also been found that Gen Zs spend less money on clothing than other generations, researchers believe they still feel pressure to look good in front of their peers, which will still drive the age group to clothing stores or ecommerce sites.
While many GenZs are concerned with sustainability, perhaps there should be a reverse in the choice of fashion – to pick what looks good in haute couture and search for a cheaper, more lasting version of the pieces.