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Consumer Research


It’s cool to be ugly

It’s cool to be ugly

Something is happening on the high street. Young women are adopting a quirky look, which has been termed the ‘Ugly Betty’ syndrome.

According to research commissioned by Savanna Cider marketing director, Nigel Bruce, hordes of young women on every high street across the country think it’s cool to wear ponchos, don thick rimmed glasses and aspire to wearing braces.

What’s more, rather than hide their metal, they show it off proudly with multi-coloured train-tracks.

Bruce says that its research shows that 67 per cent of 18 to 35 year olds want to be different and, more importantly, want to be seen to be different.  Where once the misfit look was made fun of it’s now accepted; moreover it’s copied and glorified.

He said, “Bespectacled, poncho wearing young women are not out of fashion because the look they’ve adopted has never really been in fashion.


"It’s more about rebelling against convention and against glossy designer fashions or high street conformity that’s so cheaply available now.”

The research shows that where once wearing glasses resulted in name-calling like four-eyes, a high proportion 32 per cent of women and men in the UK choose to wear glasses as a fashion accessory. 

These young adults are not eccentric, simply unconventionalists who are trying to claim back their individuality.

In the survey 25 per cent say they buy only one item at a time from a particular high street shop, and make a conscious decision not to let the high street accessorize them; mixing their purchases with clothes from low end vintage or charity shops, raiding their mother’s wardrobes or even making certain items.

Whilst not eschewing the high street which 71 per cent said supplied them with a wide range of fashion items the Ugly Betty brigade prefers to defer their sartorial elegance to less conventional idols rather than the more prosaic merchandisers of the department and chains stores.

The Ugly Betty is the antithesis of a WAG (Wife and Girlfriend).  No self respecting UB would have designer labels and logos showing.

If they did purchase such items it would be for the quality rather than the logo.

Some 53 per cent of those interviewed hand a designer item, but only 10 per cent of those items had any logo showing and 15 per cent admitted to removing an external logo-bearing badge before using the item.

This growing breed of women and men are early adopters. They are ahead of the curve and consciously consider every move they make from where they shop for groceries to what make of car they drive.

Some 47 per cent of the 1,000 18-35 year old women interviewed said that they would prefer not to buy something currently advertised on TV or in the press for fear of becoming one of the crowd.

Nigel Bruce said, “This seems to be a reaction to the homogenisation of society and fashion, in particular.

"They are not anarchic in any way, but they want their personality and individuality to shine through and feel that this is most overtly achieved by the way they dress."

He added, “There is a great difference between the hippy bohemian types of the 1960s and today’s considered consumer. The mindset is individualism over conformity.

"On the most part the look works, it’s a version of the quirky dress sense of Sarah Jessica Parker or Jarvis Cocker.”

Bruce concluded, “The desire to be unconventional seeps into every aspect of day-to-day life. “It’s no longer cool to order a pint or a vodka tonic.

“Our research suggests that this group is going into pubs and consciously searches for alternative drinks; something original like a crème de menthe frappe or snowball is more the order of the day – they are weird and therefore adopted as something wonderful.”
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