Culture, Team Barneys

The Rise of Cheugy and What It Means for Personal Style

We don’t do trends at Barneys Originals, we do personal style. It’s a slower pace and a more forgiving realm. Wearing something that was once cool in the 80’s but not so much now? Well, come as you are. We don’t mind.

Maybe it’s our ethos, maybe it’s just because leather doesn’t really outdate itself – we’ve just never been trend chasers.

So when the word cheugy started bouncing around the office, we had to roll our eyes.

Cheugy – Pronounced Chew-Ghee

Definition: Out of date/Trying too hard to chase dead trends.

What counts as ‘cheugy’?

Cheugy transcends fashion. It can be used to describe any outdated trend. For example, in the interior world, labelled kitchenwear would be considered as cheugy. In the design world, curly serif scripts are considered cheugy. In the food world, unicorn-themed treats would be considered cheugy. 

Hopefully you’re getting the idea by now.

It’s things that were once everywhere and some people just can’t let go of them.

When exactly something becomes cheugy is up for debate. 6 months beyond a trend, a week too late, or as soon as it becomes ‘mainstream’; who can say?

And when does something that is cheugy, move over to vintage? Will the cheugy cycle repeat in a similar seasonal fashion?

Who is to blame for ‘cheugy’?

Most of the articles defining cheugy seem to point the finger at Gen Z. To a degree, this would make sense until you realise everyone writing about this subject is millennial and above (myself included.) The only thing that alludes to the fact cheugy was ‘created by Gen Z’ is the fact that the term rose to fame via Tiktok. 

However everyone and their grandma seems to use Tiktok these days so we’d argue on this point, that the theory doesn’t really add up.

Not to mention, when you list the things that are considered cheugy, it’s hard to differentiate them from ‘basic’. It’s almost as if someone, somewhere thought that the word ‘basic’ wasn’t insulting enough and fancied coining their own term.

If that’s the case, it’s worked. After all, we’re writing about it now… and you’re reading it!

But the thing that doesn’t sit right with us, is the whole host of videos, articles and blogs dedicated to pointing out what’s cheugy without taking a critical look at these passing phases.

After all, it’s just another way for us to beat ourselves up really, isn’t it? And that’s what some brands want, isn’t it? Now, I better not get too deep here. I wouldn’t want you thinking this is a ‘look at how different Barneys is’ think-piece.

But if I could just, for a moment, get you thinking about how daft buzz words like cheugy are – without blaming Gen Z – well, you might just change your outlook on style as a whole.

Recycle reuse V.S Cheugy

What is particularly interesting about the articles about Gen Z coining the term cheugy is that it’s actually quite far from the ethos of that generation. 

We’re generalising here – but Gen Z are often described as the most ‘woke’ generation. They are passionate about social issues and well informed. We’re constantly seeing creative individuals from this generation upcycle and create fresh looks from older clothes. While fast fashion still dominates, there is a rebellious streak coming through of thrifty, crafty and stylish people who understand their role within breaking the cycle.

So then, as Gen Z begin to push the tide of fast fashion backwards where does cheugy (which speeds up the fast fashion trend cycle) fit into it all?

A little bit of digging on Google Trends shows us that this term literally popped into existence in early April, which most of the related search terms surrounding confused people trying to find the exact meaning. Could it be a coincidence that when just as the shops reopen and we’re allowed to dress in something other than loungewear – and we’re finally going back out to the pubs – a new reason to buy a whole new wardrobe appears online?

How to avoid being ‘cheugy’

Ultimately, if you want to dance around in the most ‘cheug’ outfit going – what’s the worst thing that can happen to you?

If you stepped out of your front door in a slogan top, crocs and a pair of velour tracksuit pants – at the worst – you might get a few funny looks. 

But that’s it.

And those who give you the eye because of those cheugy items, maybe they’re just not bold enough to break their own mould. 

Sure, if it’s Gen Z calling you cheugy and outdated – that’s fine too. It surely cannot be seen as a shock that the younger generation doesn’t want to dress like the older generation. After all, did you want to dress like your parents when you were younger?

If dressing in ‘cheugy’ trends makes you happy & comfortable – so be it.

Our mantra will always be to dress exactly however you want. 

Let the buzzwords come and go. 

Let the trends themselves come and go. 

Just find what works for you.