Grab a "swacket" and check your fashion terminology

Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:14pm EDT
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By Alice Baghdjian

LONDON (Reuters) - The fashion industry has been dressing up more than just catwalk models in New York, London and Milan this month, as its flamboyant use of language is flummoxing ordinary British shoppers, a major British retailer said.

Even personal shoppers need fashion dictionaries to understand words such as "spants" (harem pants) and "swacket" (a sweater/jacket) -- lexicon that is used on a regular basis by fashionistas, according to British department store Debenhams.

"It's now easier to understand complex calculus than some of the words commonly used by commentators within the fashion industry to describe garments," spokesman for Debenhams, Ed Watson, said in a statement.

"We believe that these words are only properly understood by approximately five per cent of the population - yet they are commonly used throughout the fashion industry," he said.

The words "jorts," which refers to a pair of denim hotpants; "whorts," winter shorts to be donned with woolen tights; and "mube," a maxi tube dress, amount to a "secret language," according to Watson.

Linguistic purists have criticized the confusing fashion vocabulary and claim the words are simply recycling existing terminology.

"The world of fashion is reliant on these changing trends, which are often based on little more than classic foundations with clever twists," spokeswoman for the British-based Plain English Campaign, Marie Clair, said in a statement.

"These latest words are just existing, familiar words that have been cut and stitched to make nothing more than the Emperor's new clothes," she said.   Continued...

<p>A model presents a creation from the Kinder Aggugini 2012 Spring/Summer collection during London Fashion Week September 20, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett</p>