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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Life + Arts

Homelessness is latest fashion trend

Fashion designers have started the ‘Homeless Chic’ trend, which is modeled after the attire of homeless people, appearing dirty and old. | Wikimedia Commons

Visiting professor Paula Mathieu gave a lecture on a new trend that high end fashion designers are trying to sell: homeless chic.

Mathieu, an associate professor in the Department of English at Boston College, gave her take on the homeless chic trend.

“It’s terrible to say, very often the most exciting outfits are from the poorest people,” said Christian Lacroix, a designer.

One word that has been coined in reference to this is hobolicious. According to, the word is used as an adjective to refer to someone who “looks homeless and yummy at the same time.”

Mathieu discussed how public depictions of homelessness shape the views of homeless people.

“Homeless chic cannot exist without poverty,” Mathieu said.

Some say that designers are making a mockery of homeless people. While the homeless get their clothes out of dumpsters and garbage bags, designers spend thousands of dollars and countless hours taking material and making it look old and dirty. On the other hand, designers like Galliano genuinely see this type of fashion as something that is as brilliant as it is marketable.

The only thing is that they are selling it at unaffordable prices. Why pay $400 for a sweater with a hole in it when you can go in your own closet and cut a hole in one?

This topic was new for Mathieu because she teaches about the literature of homelessness.

“It’s interesting for me to look at what these images mean in like of street newspaper,” Mathieu said.

A street newspaper is a newspaper created by the homeless for the homeless. There is a website,, which is the International Network of Street Newspapers. The network consists of 112 papers in over 40 countries.

As a college student in Chicago, Mathieu started as a volunteer copy editor at Street Life Newspaper and then started her own writing group. She then worked at the Work Empowerment Center in grad school and began helping with the international network of street newspapers. She is a judge for the Annual Street Newspapers Awards. But it was never her original intention to work with community literature.

“I was interested in people’s stories,” said Mathieu. “Working at Street Wise and running a writing group, I learned a lot about how complicated lives are. Even though someone is homeless, they have had other good things that may have happened in their life. There are still other creative and wonderful things about them.”

What she likes most about teaching writing is that she doesn’t have to give grades.

“Teaching writing at the University of Illinois I learned that not every person is a philosopher,” said Mathieu. “Each person writes their own story, and I can’t say that they need to change this or this isn’t true because it is their story; each story is different.”

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