Cheugy is proof we're in a post-fashion world

🚧 v incomplete article, tread with caution!

We haven’t really had a word before to describe something that’s not quite on-trend, or is trendy on paper while execution falls short. “Cheugy” fills that descriptive void. It can be loud and in-your-face like Millenial fashion or subtle and largely comprised of iykyk knowledge – kind of like knowing whether a scuffed-up vase is vintage from the 70’s or manufactured by Target and picked up from a sale bin.

As a word, the definition of cheugy is simultaneously a perfect descriptor and incredibly difficult to articulate. Our need for such a word is perfect evidence that we’re knees-deep in a post-fashion & post-trend world. In the past days of delineated, top-down fashion trends, we never needed 14 year olds to make up words to fill a linguistic void.

Why invent a whole new word? Why not simply say “off trend” or “uncool”?

The power of cheuginess as a descriptor is in its abstract and ephemeral nature – it’s almost always subjective to whoever is using the word, and describes a phenomenon that’s based on a particular personal taste yet universal to anyone who has a taste. It’s not cheugy because it’s off-trend – it’s cheugy because of the way you understand the social context of that object, its qualities, and the subject who owns that object as a part of their visual identity.

A world with clear trends also defines, by consequence, what is not on trend. “Cheugy” is only useful in a world where there’s no concrete trend to point to as a benchmark.

While trend cycles have typically happened in 20 year increments in the past, the world of social media is compressing that so much that even trends from the 2010’s are already making a comeback. Mina Le dives into the 2014 tumblr girl aesthetic, saying that “we are bombarded with so many photos of trends at such a concentrated rate, that we get tired of them very easily.”

This is fairly consistent across the fashionsphere. Li Edelkoort, a top trend forecaster has an entire manifesto about how Fashion as an institution is dead. She largely blames a combination of the insular nature of high fashion, corporate greed, and problems in fashion education.

We’ve also seen fashion trends devolving into meaninglessness in the consumer world, like with the rise of normcore in early 2010’s despite the entire trend being contrived by an art collective “in the spirit of fan fiction”. honestly, based. There was also the “Top 20 trends of 2020” lists that circulated Pinterest at the tail end of that year, as if the entire world hadn’t been sitting at home in sweats.

So whats coooooool then

Disregarding the clumsy fall of fashion as an institution, the internet has brought a new context for self-expression through clothing.

Before, we dressed to belong; now, we dress to stand out.

Cheugy is a farewell

Given all of this, I think the introduction of cheuginess as a descriptor marks the end of an era. The downfall of the trends it represents is not dissimilar to the downfall of department stores and the detached consumerism of fast fashion. As consumers become increasingly interested in sustainable, unique pieces and increadingly frustrated with the damage and greed of corporations, a word like “cheugy” helps shape a mindset that celebrates creativity and responsibility in a timeless way.


  • Cheuginess, definition
  • What makes cheuginess different? More abstract and etheral; only useful in a world where there’s no concrete trend to point to as uncool because it’s moving so quickly.
  • Cyclical nature of fashion: Trends have always existed, and it was easy to point at what was “out” based on what was
  • Fashion has sped up incredibly, to the point that cycles are starting back before they even have a chance to fizzle out properly
    • Loss of power from fashion giants
    • Fall of Fashion with capital F
  • Meaninglessness of trends – see normcore, see ads being like “hottest trends of 2020” when we were locked up in our rooms
  • Linguistically, words are always

Before, we dressed to belong; now, we dress to stand out. Popular looks are created by “regular” people doing creative things with their clothes, and this creativity is what we are buying No one on the Internet speaks in genres. They speak in memes, references, and remixes.

Normcore being launched by an art collective “in the spirit of fan fiction”. Ultimate irony