Class Conscious

By Martin, Andrew | New Statesman (1996), June 4, 2001 | Go to article overview

Class Conscious


Martin, Andrew, New Statesman (1996)


To any man, there are few things deadlier than the words "special fashion issue", but worse still are headlines such as "New crisis at M&S", or anything else implying that the world is about to end because a few new dresses from Marks & Spencer are somehow not quite right.

I suppose my resentment here is essentially snobbish. I was taught to revere Marks above all other shops because it supplied a middle-class commodity -- good-quality clothes -- without the airs and graces. How could it be pretentious, after all, when every woman who worked there looked like your auntie? Rather like BBC1 (as was), Marks supplied quality to the masses, but now the middle classes are abandoning Marks for the strangely un-middle-class reason that they want flash labels on their clothes.

It might be some consolation to whatever bunch of Marks executives is currently in the pillory that I myself, a 38-year-old man, have shopped steadily at their store throughout the hysteria. I go there to express my loyalty to an idea of middle-class propriety that is apparently outmoded; and to buy underpants. …

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