Although I live in a city as vibrant and diverse as Brighton, where individuality is embraced, there is still a feeling that we students are targeted and influenced to dress a certain way. Where else to start than with a brand that suggests a change of season is as an excuse to bring out another catalogue (or ‘handbook’) and that we should buy a whole new wardrobe because it’s Spring Term 2011. That’s right, yuppy-tastic Jack Wills. We can spot their logo tees and slogan hoodies a mile off, but is this ‘fabulously British’ brand really worth the money?
Us university folk seem to have similar opinions of the brand. Most of the people I asked said that it is over-priced, and for preppy wannabes. It is ironic that a company selling high-priced clothing target British university students, when we have the least money to splurge! It does seem like a waste if you’re only buying it to try and fit into the idealised Jack Wills student lifestyle. This is just emphasised by the fact that younger people who don’t even go to uni are stamping WILLS across their chests!
And the photography in the handbooks is atrocious! Scantily clad girls, frolicking in underwear and scenes of sexual embraces. This would be okay if it they were just trying to emulate ‘typical’ students. Programmes such as ‘Skins’ do it all the time. But the fact is that Jack Wills don’t realise they also have a younger and more impressionable audience who will copy the clothes, and the ideology that comes with it.
Even when asked if money wasn’t an issue, people said they still wouldn’t shop at Jack Wills, because of the negative connotation of seeming like a pretentious clone. This aversion to the brand just proves the power of the stereotype. We students much prefer to invent our own style, with a combination of high street and vintage clothes.
In Jack Wills’ defence, the clothes are of a very high quality and are well worth investing in if, for example, you want a hard-wearing shirt. Also, their cardis, jackets and jeans are more discreet if you’re worried about seeming showy! It all depends on how you choose to spend your precious loan. To be fair, similar looks can be pulled off elsewhere for half the price. Maybe that’s the way to go, if it’s just going to be out of fashion next season!
(This is the first article I had published for the student newspaper on 21/02/11)