There’s a hell of lot more to Britain than scumbags

Chloe Jones, know that name? It’s June 2012 and I am frustrated with a fraction of the world. I don’t know how much of a fraction, but enough to warrant writing an article. 

Two hours ago I spoke to two people who independently expressed their opinions to me about the scum of Britain. Word check, ‘scum’. I didn’t walk up to them and go ‘Hiya, don’t you hate the skanky people in England? Talk to me about them’ or equally enter the room using a selection of profanities that would guarantee irritable moods and such, a need to talk about scummy Britain. Instead I met up with these people separately, one of them in their newly decorated flat (not over the top, not shabby, but decent, done because this person grafted as a kid and saved hard) and the other, in a pub. There wasn’t a 42-inch TV playing football on Sky in the corner, then again the place wasn’t full of OAPs resting their dentures on the table. It was just a nice pub.

Launch forward into two thirds of both conversations, if we’re lucky, and topic was solely orientated around disrespectful, benefit abusing ‘low lives’. Again, I quote.

I sat there in awe of what was being said. What concerned me was that these two very different people in two very different situations had absolutely no remorse about their chosen words when describing the British public. Even worse, neither of these people fell into society’s stereotypes of ‘stupid’ or ‘uneducated’. One is a skilled tradesman, the other a dedicated employee, and both have been in full time work since their studies came to an end. Their attitudes could not be accounted for on any level other than a firm belief; they had lost faith in society.

I left both situations having tried my upmost to explain that not every young, unemployed, less fortunate person was out to ruin the image of England, but never the less felt disheartened at what I had heard. I went back to the room that I lovingly refer to as my office (positive thinking in its best form, it’s more like a spare room with an old dining room table in it) and decided to Google the matter. 

Did everyone have this little faith in humanity?

I opened a new window and tapped ‘Britain is full of…’ and before I had the chance to finish my sentence, my sentence was finished for me. So chuckle brothers. The web was suggesting the missing word as ‘Scum’. For the third time that day I found my jaw dropping and my eyes staring forward in disbelief. If I was in a public place my reaction would of caused stares.

So I decided it was time to set this straight. If the world can happily harp on about scummy people in a totally negative way as if it was just the next conversation, I am more than happy to harp on about the intellectual and inspiring people I have come across in my time as a fashion writer and designer. Perhaps it might give some people the chance to re-think their views and instead of groaning on about the scum of Britain, focus on the amazing people in the world that are worthy of serious recognition?

Are you with me on this?

Instinctively I want to mention a few of my old school favourites such as Horst P. Horst and Frida Kahlo, then again I know the pedantic will accuse me of changing the steer of my argument. I can see it now; ‘We’re talking about modern day, not the past.’ So apologies, icons, that’s as much of an inclusion as you will get.

So for now I will focus on… now.

First off are Marcus Piggott and Mert Alas. If you’re a fan of Alexandra Shulman’s Vogue you’ll know I’m talking about the photographers who produced the gloriously rich images of Kate Moss for this month’s editorial. If there are two (current, working) people out there at the moment inspiring people with their photography, that would be them.

Over to needlework. Have you heard of Inge Jacobsen? If you’re a fan of my blog, perhaps. This is a young woman who has taken her love of embroidery, a technique mastered by the older generation and to those who refer to people as scum probably considered as ‘ignored by the younger’, and not only developed her talents to challenge society’s way of interpretation but impressively formed a career out of the ‘dying’ trade.

Going back to photographers, Alice Luker’s worth a Google. There’s a girl who lives, breathes and survives on fashion. Her commitment to the trade and incredible skills behind the lens are a credit to the younger generation.

Slightly bending the rules, but alas, rules are there to be broken, we have the Siegel brothers, Stefan and Daniel. They may not have been born in the UK but their talents have ensured new designer fashion across the country (and world) can be discovered. The birth of Not Just A Label will be an iconic date in the industry, the website will continue to be a source of inspiration and income to many talented people for years to come. I for one would have never discovered British wonders Nicola Cook (Bradford), Bill and Mar (London) or Sally Kite (London) without them.

Over to bloggers, a big shout out for me goes to Dolly Alderton, Daniel Copley and Stu Bradley. The first documented her life experiences via her blog, next thing we know she’s a writer for Made In Chelsea. I say ‘next thing’, she wouldn’t have got there without having a killer sense of humour and shed load of talent, but still, she’s young and she’s on her way to making it. Copley and Bradley are obviously, unobviously, I’m sure they’d both make a joke about it should they read this, men, and, surprisingly, unsurprisingly, fashion bloggers. A little part of me thinks both would happily use the word scum in their light hearted manner but the fact that I have not yet witnessed it in their posts has led me to include them here; they are interesting people who engage their audience the minute they begin writing. The fact they proactively take time out to write their blogs (and do it well), attend events and exhibitions opposed to ‘scumming up Britain’, for me, makes them worthy of an inclusion.

My list could literally go on forever. Designer Kathleen Reardon brings a positive attitude to the table, Joshua Olan (who for some time referred to himself as the next Louboutin) bursts with passion and young editor Kohinoor Sahota (of The Book) not only had/has a business mind but enough drive and courage to see her idea become a reality. As for the older generation, I’m an avid admirer of Hilary Alexander, as I’m sure many young (and old) people are.

And that name at the top, the name that started this article? She’s the girl that’s just earned herself the Gold Award at Graduation Fashion Week. Now if she doesn’t make these people stop and think before they slate Britain, I don’t know who will.

Yes, the world can be scummy. There are people that on a bad day (a REALLY seriously bad day) I might be tempted to refer to as scum. But happily in a standard conversation? No. It should not be allowed. So next time someone moans about the state of Britain (or indeed you are the moaner), don’t sit back and waste your time absorbing it, go and explore a whole load of interesting articles, shows and images and let yourself realise that actually there are a lot of incredibly hard working, inspiring individuals out there.

(And then, if you still find yourself angrily opinionated and desperate to vent your views, watch Grayson Perry’s Channel 4 documentary ‘In The Best Possible Taste’. There’s a man that’ll show you how to present your observations in an intelligent and proactive way.)