Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Georgina…
And I'm Neil.
In this programme, we’re talking about buying
clothes and only wearing them a few times before buying more clothes!
This is something known as fast fashion – it’s popular,
it might make us feel good, but it’s not great for the environment.
Which is why lots of people this year are pledging – or promising publicly - to buy no new clothes.
I for one am wearing the same shirt I bought seven years ago.
You’re certainly not a fashion victim, Neil! But first,
let’s test your knowledge of fast fashion with a question.
Do you know how many items of clothing were sent to landfill in the UK in 2017? Was it…
a) 23 million items, b) 234 million items or
c) 2.3 billion items What do you think, Neil?
I’m sure it’s lots, but not billions, so I’m going to say 23 million items.
I shall tell you if you’re right at the end of the programme.
Let’s talk more about fast fashion, which is being blamed for contributing to global warming.
And discarded clothes – that means ones that are thrown away - are also piling
up in landfill sites, and fibre fragments are flowing into the sea when clothes are washed.
It’s not great – and I’ve heard the average time someone wears something is just seven!
So why is this, and what is driving our desire to keep buying more clothes?
I think we should hear from fashion journalist Lauren Bravo,
who’s been speaking on the BBC Radio 4 programme, You and Yours.
She explained that clothes today are relatively cheaper than those from her parents’ days…
A lot of clothing production got outsourced - offshored over to the developing world,
so countries like Indonesia, India, Bangladesh and China are now responsible for making the
vast bulk of all the clothes that are sold in the UK. And with that, we've seen what
we call ‘chasing the cheapest needle’ around the world, so the fashion industry constantly
looking to undercut competitors, and with that clothes getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper.
Right, so clothes – in the developed world at least – have become cheaper
because they are produced in developing countries.
These are countries which are trying to become more advanced economically and socially.
So production is outsourced – that means work usually done in one company is given to another
company to do, often because that company has the skills to do it. And in the case of
fashion production, it can be done cheaper by another company based in a developing country.
Lauren used an interesting expression ‘chasing the cheapest needle’ – so the
fashion industry is always looking to find the company which can make clothes
cheaper – a company that can undercut another one means they can do the same job cheaper.
Therefore the price of clothes gets cheaper for us.
OK, so it might be good to be able to buy cheaper clothes.
But why do we have to buy more – and only wear items a few times?
It’s all about our obsession with shopping and fashion.
It’s something Lauren Bravo goes on to explain on the You and Yours
radio programme. See if you can hear what she blames for this obsession…
Buying new things has almost become a trend in itself for certain generations. I think
that feeling that you can't be seen in the same thing twice, it really stems from social media,
particularly. And quite often people are buying those outfits to take a photo to put on Instagram.
It sounds illogical, but I think when all of your
friends are doing it there is this invisible pressure there.
Lauren makes some interesting points. Firstly,
for some generations, there is just a trend for buying things.
It does seem very wasteful, but, as Lauren says, some people don’t like to be seen wearing the same
thing twice. And this idea is caused by social media – she uses the expression ‘stems from’.
She describes the social pressure of needing to be seen wearing new clothes on Instagram.
And the availability of cheap clothes means it’s possible to post
new images of yourself wearing new clothes very regularly.
Hmm, it sounds very wasteful and to me, illogical – not reasonable or
sensible and more driven by emotions rather than any practical reason.
But, there is a bit of a backlash now – that’s a strong negative reaction to what is happening.
Some people are now promising to buy second-hand clothes, or ‘vintage clothes’, or make do with the
clothes they have and mend the ones they need. It could be the start of a new fashion trend.
Yes, and for once, I will be on trend! And it could
reduce the amount of clothes sent to landfill that you mentioned earlier.
Yes, I asked if you knew how many items of clothing were sent to landfill in the
UK in 2017? Was it… a) 23 million items,
b) 234 million items or c) 2.3 billion items
What did you say, Neil?
I said a) 23 million items.
And you were wrong. It’s actually 234 million items – that’s according to
the Enviro Audit Committee. It also found that 1.2
billion tonnes of carbon emissions is released by the global fashion industry.
Well, we’re clearly throwing away too many clothes
but perhaps we can recycle some of the vocabulary we’ve mentioned today?
I think we can, starting with pledging - that means publicly promising to do
something. You can make a pledge to do something.
When something is outsourced,it is given to another company to do,
often because that company has the skills to do it or it can be done cheaper.
And if one company undercuts another, it charges less to do a job than its competitor.
The expression stems from means ‘is caused by’ or
‘a result of’. We mentioned that rise in fast fashion stems from sharing images on Instagram.
And we mentioned this being illogical. So it seems unreasonable - not sensible,
and more driven by emotions rather than any practical reason.
And a backlash is a strong negative reaction to what is happening.
And that brings us to the end of our discussion about fast fashion! Please join us again next
time. Bye. Bye.
Hello and welcome to Six Minute English. I'm Neil and joining me today is Dan – who
is weighed down with shopping bags and wearing something very… strange. What's going on, Dan?
Hi everyone. Well, I was feeling a bit miserable so I decided to cheer myself up by going shopping!
Well that's lucky because the link between shopping and mood is what
we're looking at in this 6 Minute English – and of course we'll be
giving you six mood and shopping-related vocabulary items. But first, our quiz:
Online shoppers in which country spend more per household
than consumers in any other country, according to a report from the UK Cards Association?
a) The USA
c) The UK
Norway seems to come top of lots of lists, so for that reason alone I'm going to say Norway.
We'll find out at the end of the show.
Now, Dan, you said just now that you went shopping because you were feeling down.
That's right – I like a bit of retail therapy.
Retail therapy is a humorous expression which means going shopping to make yourself feel better.
Oh, I do that all the time.
Yes, I can see. And you're not alone. According to some research done by the
website moneysupermarket.com, people are more likely to buy things they'll later regret
when they're feeling sad, bored or stressed.
Well I was feeling a bit down in the dumps. And that's a way of saying 'sad'.
Oh dear, Dan. Sorry to hear you've been down in the dumps. I only hope you don't also get a
pang of regret about your purchases when you get them home – the research suggests that you will.
A pang is a sharp pain. We often hear it used figuratively to talk
about strong emotions like guilt, regret and remorse. You're making me feel worse, Neil
Sorry Dan – it's all for educational purposes! Our audience will learn from your pain!
Remorse is like regret – and there's a good expression to describe exactly that bad feeling
you get when you realise you don't really need or want the thing you've bought. Buyer's remorse.
OK, OK, OK enough about me. Let's hear from Sam, Phil and Catherine from the Learning English team
to see if their mood affects the shopping choices they make. Listen carefully. Can
you hear the three types of things they say that they buy when they're down in the dumps?
Honestly, I tend to buy food. Anything that will bring me comfort, so it can be any sort of
warm drink, hot drink but also anything kind of warm and cosy – so like a nice jumper.
Definitely, if I've had a bad day at work, or for whatever reason or I feel terrible,
tired, I am more likely to buy something on the way home.
Oh when I'm feeling sad, I probably buy a little bit of wine and often something to
wear. I find that a bit of retail therapy when I'm sad usually does the trick at the time,
so it makes me feel better. But I do find that when I look in my wardrobe,
the things that I bought when I was sad – I never wear them.
Sam, Phil and Catherine there from the BBC Learning English team
talking about what kind of things they buy when they're feeling down. What were they?
Food, drink and clothes.
That's right. Sam mentioned she buys food, warm drinks and a nice jumper
to keep her cosy. That's the feeling of being warm, comfortable and relaxed.
Catherine also mentioned drinks – this time wine. And she also said that buying clothes
does the trick. That means achieves the result
she intended. She feels down, she buys clothes, she feels better – it does the trick.
But what's interesting is that Catherine said she never wears the
clothes she buys when she's feeling sad. That's exactly what the survey
found – people regret the purchases they make when they're sad, bored or stressed.
Sounds like a case of buyer's remorse.
Indeed. Well, time now for the answer to our quiz question. I asked this:
Online shoppers in which country spend more per household than consumers in any other country,
according to a report from the UK Cards Association? Is it:
a) The USA
b) Norway c) The UK
I said b) Norway.
And I'm afraid you might need to go and buy some more stuff to cheer you
up – you're wrong! The correct answer is the UK. Apparently,
UK households spent the equivalent of $5,900 (£4,611) using payment cards online in 2015.
Well, I hope they were happy when they made those purchases or they
may feel the pang of regret I'm scared I might get after today's discussion!
Well, a good recap of the vocabulary from this programme might do the trick.
Shall we start with the first word? Do you ever go in for a bit of retail therapy, Neil?
Actually, I try to avoid it. Especially after reading this survey – I don't think the happiness
you feel after buying something lasts very long. In fact, you can end up feeling down in the dumps.
Down in the dumps - meaning sad/unhappy. Yes and a pang of regret might follow once you
realise you've spent a lot of money on something you don't really need.
A pang is a stab – used here figuratively to mean a sharp pain
used to talk about strong emotions. And after the pang can come buyer's remorse.
Hmm, I'm beginning to feel buyer's remorse from
this leopard skin onesie. Seemed like such a good idea at the time.
Well it does look cozy – warm comfortable and relaxed,
so I think if that's what you wanted, it does the trick.
Does the trick, meaning achieves the result you wanted.
OK before Dan heads off to buy even more stuff he doesn't need, please remember to check out our
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages. Bye!
Hello, and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Neil.
And hello, I'm Rob.
Now, then, Rob, what do you know about unicorns?
Ah, well, the unicorn is a fantasy creature from history. In our tradition,
it looks like a white horse with a single spiral horn coming out of its head. Why do you ask?
Well, funnily enough, unicorns are the topic of this programme. Before we learn more though,
a question. What do we call the study of legendary creatures like the Loch Ness Monster,
Big Foot and unicorns? Is it: a) Cryptozoology,
b) Protozoology, or c) Paleozoology?
Have you got any idea about that, Rob?
Ah, well, I know this because it was the topic of a 6 Minute English programme a while back,
in 2008, to be exact. So I think I'll keep the answer to myself.
OK, well for everyone else, we'll have the answer later in the programme.
Over the last few years unicorns have been popping up all over the place - on T-shirts, in movies,
as toys and even in political conversations. Why is this? Natalie Lawrence is a natural historian.
She appeared on the BBC's Woman's Hour programme to discuss the topic. Listen out
for the answer to this question: Why does she say people used to drink out of unicorn horns?
Those original stories were developed in a time when magic actually existed in the world. The
world was still very enchanted … the idea that the unicorn is a very strong animal and also that
could achieve magical feats, so unicorn horn used to be seen as a panacea for all sorts of
ills and a guard against poison. So people used to drink out of unicorn horn cups to
prevent themselves getting poisoned, and I think that idea of it being magical and
having magical powers has still come through today.
Why did they drink from unicorn horn cups?
Well, they were supposed to have magical powers
so people drank from them so they wouldn't get poisoned.
Yes, she said they could perform magical feats. A feat is something that is difficult to do
or achieve - like recording this programme without making a mistake, that's a real feat!
Well, we usually do it. It must just be unicorn magic.
No, just the magic of editing, Rob!
Now, she also said that unicorn horn was seen as a panacea. What does that mean?
A panacea is another word for a cure - something that can protect you from
illness or help you recover if you are sick. But is all this true, about the unicorn horn?
Well, seeing as how unicorns don't and never have existed,
it's unlikely to be true. She says these stories come from a time when the world was enchanted.
This means it was a time when people believed in magic and the possibility of mysterious creatures
from mysterious parts of the world. It seems as if these days people are looking for a bit of magic,
a bit of enchantment in their lives. The unicorn has also come to be a term commonly
used in politics to refer to unrealistic ideas and plans. Why is this? Here's Natalie Lawrence again.
Because it's such a potent cultural symbol at the moment
it's being deployed in one of the most pressing issues of our time,
as well, so… and the idea of the UK trying to be its own special unicorn potentially…
So Rob, what is she talking about here?
Well, we are in a very complicated time politically in the UK at the moment.
She says they are pressing times. A term which means something important but difficult has to be
done in a very short time. A pressing matter is an important one that has to be dealt with urgently.
Now, at the time of recording our parliament can't agree on the current pressing matter of Brexit and
each side says the other has unicorns. There's nothing special or magical about these unicorns -
it's a negative comment - a unicorn is a fantasy idea - a plan that has no chance of working,
She says unicorns are a potent symbol - which means they are
a very strong and recognisable symbol.
And this symbol is being used, or as she said being deployed. This is the same word that would
be used when you send a military force somewhere. You deploy the army in a military conflict, and in
the current political conflict they are deploying the word 'unicorn'! Here’s Natalie Lawrence again.
Because it's such a potent cultural symbol at the moment
it's being deployed in one of the most pressing issues of our time,
as well, so… and the idea of the UK trying to be its own special unicorn potentially…
Right, our pressing matter now is the vocabulary review. Before that though, the answer to this
week's question: What do we call the study of legendary creatures like the Loch Ness Monster,
Big Foot and unicorns. Is it: a) Cryptozoology,
b) Protozoology, or c) Paleozoology?
Rob, you knew the answer to this, didn't you?
I did, yes. If you look back at our archive to September 2008
you will find an episode all about a) Cryptozoology.
Well done, if you got that right - particularly if you remember that programme! Now, vocabulary
from this programme. There was enchanted to talk about a time when magic was believed to be real.
A feat is something that is very difficult to achieve and a panacea is a cure.
Something that's potent is strong and powerful
and if you deploy something, you use it, you put it into operation.
And something pressing is urgent, it needs to be done soon.
Right, that's it from us for now. Hope you can join us again soon. If you can't wait,
you can find bbclearningenglish on social media, online and on our very own app. Bye for now.
Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute English, I'm Neil. And joining me it's Rob.
Today, we'll be discussing whether wearing high-heeled shoes is a fashion statement or a
sign of oppression – and by that I mean something you have to wear because someone has told you to.
Now Neil, whatever style of shoe you choose to wear, it's good to polish them and keep them
looking shiny and new – but one man from India called Vickrant Mahajan, set the Guinness World
Record for polishing the most shoes. Do you know how many pairs he polished in eight hours? Was it…
a) 151 pairs
b) 251 pairs, or
c) 351 pairs?
Well, if it was me, it would be no more than one pair – but as it's a world record, I'm going to
go for 351 pairs. Hopefully you'll give me the answer later! But let's focus now on high heels.
Yes. It's a style of shoe worn by women around the world.
But why do millions of people choose to walk on strange, stilt-like shoes?
Studies have suggested wearing high heels can lead to damage to the muscles and skeleton.
But despite this, they are worn to look professional in the workplace or for
glamour – a word to describe the quality of looking fashionable and attractive.
And of course, they are associated with female glamour, which is something Tim Edwards,
Honorary Fellow in Sociology at the University of Leicester, has been talking about on the BBC
Radio 4 programme, Thinking Allowed. Here he is describing why he thinks that is…
Women's shoes in particular kind of have this kind of transformative or even magical quality - they
can do something for a woman, and it's quite difficult to kind of draw parallels quite
like that with men in a sense of which it almost becomes something slightly otherworldly. However
one views it, as something which is a kind of act of subordination or an act of empowerment etc,
there is a sense in which your experience is changed - you are suddenly raised 3-4-5-6
inches higher, your balance is altered, your experience is transformed.
So, he describes high heels as having a magical quality. He uses the word transformative – meaning
a great improvement or positive change – so they transform or improve how someone looks.
Well, they do make you taller and that can make you feel more powerful or important.
Tim even said it becomes otherworldly – an adjective to describe belonging
to an imaginary world rather than the real world.
Magical shoes do sound otherworldly but Tim also mentioned that wearing high heels could be seen
as an act of subordination – that's making someone do something to give them less authority or power.
Well, I guess that's only if you are forced to wear them. But there's another
interesting point here – men don't have a style of footwear that can define them.
Yes, it's just sandals for you and sports trainers for me.
In fact Tim Edwards says it's difficult to draw parallels with men's shoes. When you
draw parallels between two distinct things, it means you highlight the similarities – but here
he's saying it's difficult to find similarities. Men have nothing special to wear on their feet.
Of course, there is nothing to stop men wearing high heels – although personally
I don't think I'd be able to keep my balance – but Tim Edwards suggests it
would be viewed with suspicion. Let's hear what he has to say…
I think the issue with men and footwear is that if you think of more contemporary culture - I
mean the guy who kind of wears overly-flamboyant shoes or shoes which are not black, brown or flat
is viewed with a degree of suspicion - either in terms of his sexuality,
or in terms of his work ethic - or in terms of his kind of general moral, well,
you know, his moral standards in other kinds of ways.
He says that if you don't wear a regular, ordinary black, brown or flat style of shoe,
you might be viewed with suspicion. Men who wear shoes that are flamboyant – that's brightly
coloured and that attracts attention – have their sexuality or their attitude to work judged.
He mentions someone's work ethic – that's the belief that working hard is morally right.
A man who wears flamboyant shoes may have a different attitude to
work. It sounds like quite an old-fashioned view.
It does, and let's hope people don't judge you when you go out wearing your sandals and socks!
But now, how about giving us the answer to the question you set earlier.
Yes. I told you about Vickrant Mahajan, who set the Guinness World Record for
polishing the most shoes. I asked if you knew how many pairs he polished in eight hours.
And I guessed 351 pairs. Come on, was I right?
I'm afraid not, Neil. The answer was 251 pairs. It's still quite a lot – that's 502
individual shoes and I'm not sure if he actually got paid for doing it.
Right, let's polish up some of our English vocabulary
and remind ourselves of some of the words we've discussed today, starting with oppression.
Oppression is when you are forced to do something by someone more powerful.
We talked about glamour – a word to describe the quality of looking fashionable and attractive.
Our next word was transformative – meaning a great improvement or positive change.
Otherworldly is an adjective to describe belonging to an imaginary world
rather than the real world – it's magical or special.
We also discussed an act of subordination – that's making
someone do something to give them less authority or power.
To draw parallels is an idiom meaning to highlight the similarities between two distinct things.
And we mentioned flamboyant – that describes someone or
something brightly coloured and that attracts attention.
Finally, we talked about work ethic – that's the belief that working hard is morally right.
Something that both Neil and I have!
And that brings to the end of the programme.
Don't forget to visit our website at bbclearningenglish.com. Bye for now.
Hello. This is 6 Minute English and I'm Neil. And joining me today is Rob.
Hello. Rob, how do feel about shopping?
Urgh! Mooching around a shopping mall from one shop to another,
spending money - it's my idea of hell!
How about shopping online?
Ah yes, much better – sitting in front of the TV and browsing online is much easier.
Well, that can be a problem – it's sometimes too easy, especially when we are tired – and we
sometimes make purchases we regret. That's what we'll be talking about in this programme – an
activity known as 'vampire shopping'. But before we continue, it's my job to set you
a quiz question, so here goes. According to the UK's Office for National Statistics,
at the end of 2018, what percentage of all retail sales took place online? Was it…
a) 9.8%, b) 19.8%,
or c) 29.8%?
Buying things online is big business now, so I'll say c) 29.8%.
Well, you’ll have to wait a bit to find out. But let's talk more now about vampire shopping – this
term refers to shopping late at night - traditionally a time when vampires appear.
Most of us are asleep at this time but sleep-deprived parents,
shift-workers and gamers might not be. If you're an insomniac – someone who
can't sleep easily – it's tempting to open up your laptop and start shopping.
Online shops are open 24 hours a day so it's easy to get sucked in and do some shopping!
When you get sucked into something it means you can't stop yourself getting
involved with something that you didn't want to do. So what you're saying Neil is at night,
when we're very tired, we don't always think straight and can make some bad decisions.
That's right. And this shopping temptation can be particularly problematic for those with mental
health issues. It's something Helen Undy has been talking about on the BBC Radio 4 programme,
You and Yours. She is the Chief Executive of the Money and Mental
Health Institute. Let's hear what she had to say…
Our ability to control our impulse to spend and to resist things like advertising
is reduced when we're sleep deprived. Well mental health problems can have a similar
effect so the mental health problems themselves make it harder to resist the urge to spend
and they also cause sleep deprivation, so you're alone possibly surfing the internet, and both the
lack of sleep and the mental health problems make it harder to resist the things that you can see.
Helen said that for all us, when we're sleep deprived – that means
not having enough sleep – we find it harder to resist the urge to shop.
We're more sucked in to shopping by the advertising we see.
And resist the urge means stop yourself acting on a strong
feeling to do something. But this is more serious for people with mental health
issues. They are particularly sleep deprived and along with everything that's going
on in their minds, they find it harder to resist – to stop themselves buying things.
I suppose buying things at night, if you're alone, gives you some comfort - even a feel-good
factor – doing something that gives someone a happy and positive feeling. I certainly feel
good when I've bought something. But Rob, have you ever bought something you regret?
Yes. Bits of tech, even flight tickets to somewhere I didn't
really want to go to – because they were cheap!
Regret is a sad feeling you get when you've made a mistake and wished you hadn't made
the mistake in the first place. We all have regrets Rob, particularly
when buying things – but there's usually the option to return something and get a refund.
That's true but it's not always easy. Let's hear what Helen Undy had to say about that.
We found in our research that 75% of people,
so regardless of whether you've got a mental health problem or not - three-quarters of people
didn't send back the last thing they bought online that they regretted. We found that 4
in 10 people with mental health problems didn't send things back because they were so ashamed of
the things that they were buying that they just wanted to pretend it never happened.
So, she says that three-quarters of people didn't send back the last thing
they bought that they regretted. Maybe they were too embarrassed?
Possibly. But it's not always easy to return an item
and for those with mental health issues it can be a struggle,
a great effort. Helen Undy says that sometimes they were ashamed of their purchase.
Well, I think we have all bought things we are ashamed of. But while
online shopping continues to expand the temptation will always be there.
Well, your question earlier was about the rise in online shopping, so what's the answer, Neil?
I asked according to the UK's Office for National Statistics, at the end of 2018, what percentage of
all retail sales took place online? Was it… a) 9.8%,
b) 19.8%, or c) 29.8%?
I said c) 29.8%. I've got to be right!
Well, you're not. The rise was a bit smaller at b) 19.8%. But that's still
large compared with ten years previously, when the figure was just 5.8% of all retail sales.
No doubt the figure will continue to rise. And before I nip off to do a bit of vampire shopping,
let's recap some of the vocabulary we've mentioned today. Starting with insomniac.
An insomniac is someone who can't sleep easily. They suffer from insomnia.
Next, we talked about to get sucked into something. This informal phrase means not
being able to stop yourself getting involved with something that you don't want to do.
If you are sleep deprived, you do not have enough sleep.
And if you resist the urge, you stop yourself acting on a strong feeling to do something.
For example, resisting the urge to buy something online.
But if you don't resist the urge to buy something, it might have a feel-good
factor. A feel-good factor is something that makes you feel happy and positive.
But after buying something you may have regret. That's a sad feeling you get
when you've made a mistake and wished you hadn't made the mistake in the first place.
Well, hopefully you haven't regretted spending 6 minutes listening to us! Please join us next time
and in the meantime, why not check us out on your favourite social media platforms and on our app.
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Dan.
Neil Let me just sit down. Ah! And I'm Neil.
Dan Neil, are you wearing high heels?
Neil Hang on. Ah! Not any more!
Dan How did they feel?
Neil Agony! How do women do this?
Dan Why on earth are you wearing them?
I wanted to look fashionable and cool! Everyone knows that high heels are the
height of fashion – on the street, at work and at parties. I'm ready for anything!
Dan I'm not so sure you're right there,
Neil. Our topic for this 6 Minute English is about the rise in popularity of the comfy shoe. However,
before we step into that, let's have our quiz question. Which famous sports clothing company's
first pair of running shoes was inspired by the square pattern on a waffle-making machine? Was it:
b) Nike, or
I have no idea, so I'm going to say Adidas because that's got marks.
Dan We'll have
to wait until later to find out. So, what do you think of when I say comfy shoes?
comfy is an adjective which is an informal way of saying 'comfortable'. So, I suppose we're
talking trainers. But I was always told that trainers weren't appropriate for everywhere,
like work and many formal or social places, such as parties, bars and clubs.
Well, that certainly used to be the case, but that may not be as true any more. Victoria Moss
is the Senior Fashion Editor at the Telegraph newspaper in the UK. Here she is speaking on
BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour about why trainers are considered more fashionable these days.
Is it something that's happened very recently? Well I think it's been, sort of, coming on for
a while. And I think one thing in fashion in the last 10 years has been a, sort of, mass
casualisation of everything. And there's been a big streetwear trend, which has filtered through.
So, is it something that's happened very recently?
Apparently not, no. She said that there has been a mass
casualisation of things over the last 10 years.
Casualisation here means 'the process of becoming less formal and more relaxed' – 'more casual'.
Yes! Society has relaxed its idea of what is considered formal or appropriate.
In addition, we're told there has been a big streetwear trend. Streetwear is a style
of casual clothing worn especially by young people from urban settings – that's the city.
This trend has filtered through.
If something filters through, it appears or happens gradually over time.
So, presumably, the trend for streetwear filtered through
from its specialised area into mainstream fashion until everyone was following it.
Well, that explains why trainers are more fashionable these days,
but it doesn't explain why people are wearing them more. Not everyone follows fashion, you know.
Yes, Neil I can see that when I look at you. But you're forgetting the comfy part. Emma Supple is
a podiatrist – a foot doctor - who also spoke on Woman's Hour. Here she is explaining why
being comfy is so important. What are people doing more these days that they weren't before?
So what we're actually talking about is, actually, people, for wellness walking more
and doing more… and they're not going to do that in a lot of high heels… so trainers are changing
the materials. There are now a lot of fabric trainers and if you've inherited foot problems,
then that kind of fabric… they're wrapping around knobbly bits, and knobbly bits hurt.
What are people doing more?
They're walking more and they're doing it for wellness. Wellness is the state of being healthy.
As a result, trainers have had to change their materials to fabric
to make themselves more comfortable.
Not only that, but if you have any foot problems, these fabric, or cloth,
trainers are better at fitting to the shape of your foot. That means if you have any
knobbly bits, they won't hurt as much, which makes trainers more comfortable for everyone!
Knobbly is an adjective that means 'lumpy' – 'having many raised areas on the surface'.
So, it's the combination of a change in fashion and a change in materials
that's made trainers and other comfy shoes more popular than ever, right?
Exactly! And hard on the heels of that revelation, we can reveal the answer to our
quiz question. Earlier I asked which famous sports clothing company's first pair of running shoes
was inspired by the square pattern on a waffle-making machine. Was it:
b) Nike, or
Neil, you said?
I said Adidas
Sorry. The answer is Nike. In 1971 their co-founder Bill Bowerman was
having breakfast when he saw the waffle machine
and it inspired the design of Nike's first running shoe. Let's hope it was comfy one.
Aha! It must be time to review our vocabulary!
So, first we had comfy – an adjective which is an informal ways of saying 'comfortable'.
Then we had casualisation. This describes the process of things,
such as fashion or behaviour, becoming less formal and more casual.
Next was streetwear. That describes a style of casual clothing that is worn especially
by young people who live in cities.
Then we heard filtered through. If something filters through, it appears or happens gradually
over time. For example, has it filtered through to you yet, Neil, that high heels were a mistake?
Yes it has! They didn't do anything for my wellness,
I can tell you, which means'the state of being healthy'.
And lastly, we had knobbly. This adjective means 'lumpy' or 'having many raised areas
on the surface' - like skin when it gets cold. Do you have anything knobbly on your foot, Neil?
Probably! My feet are killing me!
I think we've found your Achilles heel! However, it's time to go.
But we will be back. In the meantime, you can find us in all the usual places
online and on social media, just look for BBC Learning English. Bye for now.
Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute English, I'm Neil.
And I'm Rob.
Rob, it's good to see you keeping up with fashion by wearing the high-vis
jacket – although I have to say it is a bit dazzling.
Neil, I'm no fashion victim – this high-vis or high-visibility jacket is for safety.
I wear it when I'm cycling around London and I've just forgotten to take it off.
And a fashion victim, by the way, is someone who always wears what's thought to be fashionable,
even if it doesn't actually look good on them. But wearing high-vis clothing
has become the latest fashion statement – that's something you wear to attract
attention and people who know something about fashion.
Well, I can assure you, I don't wear my bright jacket to look cool but in today's programme we'll
be discussing why some people do. But first Neil, have you got a question for us to think about?
OK, we know that fashions come and go but in which decade were leg warmers worn as a popular fashion
accessory? Was it… a) the 1970s,
b) the 1980s or c) the 1990s?
I do remember these so I'll say b) the 1980s.
Well, we'll reveal the answer at the end of the programme. Now let's talk more about the
oddest item of clothing to hit the catwalk this year - the humble high-vis jacket.
Yes, they were designed to be worn for safety by people like cyclists
and pedestrians and by workers who need to be seen if, for example,
they're working in the road or directing traffic. So it's strange to think that now
people choose to wear them to be on-trend – that's following the latest fashion.
Hannah Marriott is the Fashion Editor of the Guardian newspaper. She told the BBC
Radio 4 programme You and Yours, why she thought people were turning to bright,
luminous clothing. What was the reason?
There's also just a trend at the moment for people wearing very bright things, very eye-catching
things, it feels that with social media, you know, everyone's scrolling down their Instagram
screens at such speed and anything that sort of catches the eye, that seems yeah, like a bit of a
talking point, something that's going to get a bit of attention - those kind of trends are getting a
bit more traction at the moment - than the sort of understated cashmere jumper kind of fashion.
So her reason is social media. In our fast-paced lives, we're quickly scrolling through our
social media feeds and people want to stand out, attract our attention and be noticed.
And these attention-seekers need to wear some eye-catching – something
that will catch your eye and be noticed. High-vis clothing certainly does that!
Hannah mentioned that wearing something different creates a talking point – something that you or I
may discuss at work or on social media – even if it is to say "that guys looks ridiculous"!
And she also mentions that people are becoming interested in
and accepting these kinds of trends – the word she used was traction.
Traction here means this fashion trend is starting to stick.
Of course fashion comes at a price. While an ordinary high-vis vest
used for workwear is normally affordable, when they're sold as a fashion item they can go for
much higher prices, particularly if they have a designer label showing on the front.
This raises an important question. We know that many people wearing high-vis
jackets are doing important jobs, so does this fashion devalue what they're doing?
Yes, it's something Hannah Marriott talked about.
Let's hear from her again. What word does she use to describe a difficult issue?
Every time fashion borrows from workwear, there're always some
sort of thorny issues around it - particularly when you're charging £2000 for something that
is actually very similar to, you know, a uniform that somebody might be wearing who
doesn't actually make that much money, you know, there's obviously some thorny class issues there.
So she used the word thorny to describe the issue of things worn at work becoming expensive fashion
items. Thorny issues are subjects that are difficult deal with. Here she particularly
mentioned the issue of class – so different groups of people in society in different
economic positions – some can afford clothing for fashion, others can only afford clothing for work.
And the other issue is that if everyone starts wearing high-vis clothing,
then the people who need to stand out for their own safety may not stand out as easily.
And we wouldn't want to miss you when you're out cycling on your bike, Rob. But would we miss you
if you were wearing a pair of leg warmers? Earlier I asked in which decade were leg warmers worn
as a popular fashion accessory. Was it… a) the 1970s,
b) the 1980s or c) the1990s?
Yes, and I said b) the 1980s. It's got to be right!
Well, you know your fashion, Rob – it was indeed the 1980s.
Leg warmers were originally worn by dancers to keep their muscles from cramping after stretching,
but in the early 1980s they became fashionable for teenage girls to wear.
OK, let's move on and recap on some of the vocabulary we've mentioned today. Starting
with fashion victim – that's someone who always wears what's thought to be fashionable, even
if it doesn't actually look good on them. Like that pair of red jeans you used to wear, Neil.
They, Rob, were on-trend – that means 'in keeping up with the latest fashion'. Of course
wearing something red is very eye-catching which means attracting attention and being noticed.
Next we mentioned traction. If something gains traction it becomes accepted and popular.
And then we had understated. In fashion,
this describes something that does not attract attention and is not that impressive.
And then we discussed the word thorny. A tree or bush with thorns is difficult to touch and handle
and similarly a thorny issue is a subject that is difficult to deal with and discuss.
Well, we've covered some thorny and less thorny issues today
but we know that fashions change and maybe high-vis fashion won't be here forever.
That's it for now but please join us next time for 6 Minute English. See you soon. Goodbye.
Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil.
And I’m Sam.
Are you a saver or a spender, Sam?
Well, I’m trying to limit my spending right now
because I’m saving up for a deposit to buy a house.
Saving money is not always easy - as we’ll find out in today’s programme, which is all about
‘thrift’. ‘Thrift’ is not a simple idea to define.
It’s to do with living a simple life free from the need to constantly buy the latest products.
Today’s consumer culture encourages us to ‘spend, spend, spend’,
but it hasn’t always been that way. The Victorians for example told people to
‘save up for a rainy day’, meaning to keep some money back in case of unforeseen emergencies.
But before we discover more about that, it’s time for today’s quiz question.
If you’re trying to save money you probably know how hard it can be. So my question is:
what percentage of people in the UK, do you think, have less than £1000 in savings?
Is it: a) 5%,
b) 15 %, or c) 30%?
Well, if I’m anything to go by I’d say c) 30%.
OK. Well, we’ll find the correct answer out later.
I mentioned before that ‘thrift’ is a difficult idea to define, so here’s Alison Hulme, a lecturer
at the University of Northampton, explaining more to BBC Radio 4’s programme Thinking Allowed:
There are two dictionary definitions of thrift. The older of the two comes from the word ‘thrive’
etymologically, and described thrift as the ability to live well and to flourish,
so it’s that sense of human flourishing. The more recent definition is the one we’re
probably more familiar with which is about frugality. All of that said, it’s been used
historically of course by various people in various moments in various different places
in very different ways and they’ve often had a social or religious agenda.
It seems the oldest definition of ‘thrift’ has nothing to do with saving money and is
connected to the verbs ‘thrive’ and ‘flourish’ - meaning to grow or develop successfully.
It was only later with the Puritans - 16th century English Christians with a reputation for
strict discipline - that the meaning of thrift changed and became associated with
frugality - being careful not to spend too much money or eat too much food.
The Puritans believed that being frugal was a religious
virtue and that people ought to save money in order to give to others in need.
Later on the meaning of ‘thrift’ changed again. During the Victorian era,
it was connected to the idea of managing your own money in order to be a responsible citizen.
Throughout history then, there have been different versions of ‘thrift’,
and this may be because different religions or social groups had their own agenda - a
specific aim or reason for a particular group to do something. For example, the Victorian
definition of thrift was based on a social agenda about being a respectable member of society.
Ideas about frugality and thrift changed again during the Second World War when the public
was encouraged to avoid waste so that every material resource could go into the war effort.
And in the post-war period, it changed again as
people’s wealth and standard of living increased. Here’s Alison Hulme again:
It’s the idea that once people had enough to meet their kind of basic needs
there was this kind of moral slide into consumerism.
It’s not a view that I subscribe to in a simplistic sense myself - I think there’s
a very fine line to tread here. There’s no point denying that, certainly in the developed world,
there’s been a rise in consumer capitalism, that’s just a truism, but thrift hasn’t declined.
In modern times, people’s motivation to save up and be thrifty declined once
they had enough to meet their basic needs - the basic necessities needed to survive, like food,
clothes and shelter and nothing extra.
Alison mentions that once these basic needs were satisfied, people moved
away from thrift into consumerism, the desire to buy ‘luxury’ products
which were not absolutely necessary. According to some, this created a moral slide – a decrease
in the standards of behaving in good, fair and honest ways.
The rise in consumer capitalism we have seen around the world is an
example of a truism - something that is so obviously true it is not worth repeating.
What is worth repeating is the quiz question, Neil.
Yes, I asked you how many British people had savings of under £1000.
And I said, c) 30%.
In fact, Sam, it’s b) 15%.
So I guess I’m not such a bad saver after all!
OK. Well, today we’ve been talking about the changing meanings of ‘thrift’,
an idea connected to frugality - being careful not to spend too much money.
The original meaning of ‘thrift’ was to flourish - grow or develop
successfully - but that definition changed as different religious groups,
like the Puritans, promoted their own agenda - aim or reason for a particular group to do something.
In recent times, people’s ability to meet their basic needs – the necessities for
survival like food and shelter, have reduced the importance of ‘thrift’,
which some believe has created a moral slide – a reduction in standards of moral behaviour.
And the associated rise of consumer capitalism
is an example of a truism - something that is obviously true and generally accepted by all.
That’s all for now. Join us again next time for more topical
discussion and vocabulary. Bye for now!
Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Rob.
And hello, I'm Neil.
Now, Neil, how do you feel about surf and turf?
Surf and turf? Love it. What's not to love? Some lobster,
a juicy steak – fries on the side. Mmm, delicious.
Ah, you know what you've done there?
No, do tell.
You've got completely the wrong end of the stick.
I said steak, not stick – a juicy steak.
No! Wrong end of the stick. You misunderstood me.
I'm not talking about the surf and turf meal, but the online shopping habit of surfing and turfing.
Oh, my bad – but to be fair, this is quite a new use of this expression, isn't it?
Yes, it is. Now, you probably know that 'surfing' is a verb we use for looking at things on the
internet. Surf and turf refers to when we go to an online store, select lots of things for
our virtual shopping basket but when we get to the checkout, which is the place where we pay
for our shopping, we don't actually complete the purchase. We turf out the basket. We abandon it.
To turf something out is a phrasal verb for 'throwing something out'. Although it's normally
used about people – for example, someone who is behaving badly might be turfed out of a club.
Indeed. Well, I'm sure I'll get turfed out of the presenter's union
if I don't get to today's quiz question. According to recent research,
which items are the most likely to be surfed and turfed? Is it:
c) Women's knitwear
What do you think, Neil?
Right, I think... I'm also certain it's a) books.
Well, we'll find out if you're right later in the programme. Now, this research also revealed that
approximately 40% of people have abandoned an online shopping basket in the last year.
And it was calculated that this meant there
was approximately 18 billion pounds worth of lost sales.
I have to say, I'm a bit sceptical about that figure. I don't trust it. We don't always intend
to buy everything we put in our baskets. It's a bit like window shopping. We just browse and
find it convenient to put things in our basket to think about later. Have you ever done that?
Sure. It's a bit like browsing in a shop, isn't it – except you can save
items you are interested in to look at later. You might also make a basket in one online store,
then go to another to see if you can get the same or similar items cheaper there. So I agree:
I don't think that the figure of 18 billion represents a total. Some of that was never
intended to be spent – and some would have gone to other stores.
But there are other reasons we don't complete our purchases. For some it's finding out at
the end that there will be a high delivery cost or that paying is very complicated.
Yes, I agree with that. That's so annoying.
You spend time collecting all the things in the basket, then find you have to create an account,
or you can't use your favourite payment method, or have to pay more to use a credit card and you
have to fill out so many details. Sometimes you get so frustrated that you just give up.
Exactly, and this is a subject that retail expert Clare Bailey discussed
in the BBC programme You and Yours. She talks about retailers,
which are the businesses that sell things. What does she say 70% of retailers hadn't done?
We found that something over 70% of the retailers hadn't invested in the payment process
in the last two years, so the technology is really out of date – whereas they have
potentially invested in getting us to that page and then they fell foul.
70% of retailers hadn't invested in the payment process.
They hadn't changed the way people pay online for at least two years.
Because online technology develops so quickly, that means that their systems are
out of date. Something that is out of date is too old, it's no longer suitable.
She says that companies invest in the shopping experience of their sites but have ignored the
checkout process. This is where they fall foul. This is where they make a mistake and get into
trouble – where they can lose customers. Right, before we fall foul of the listener,
let's have the answer to the quiz. I asked you which items were the most commonly abandoned
at the virtual checkout. Was it books, watches or women’s knitwear? So Neil, what did you say?
I'm pretty certain it's books.
The answer was actually women's knitwear. Not books, as you thought.
Ah well, I can't be right all the time.
Some of the time would be nice. Anyway, let's have a look at today's vocabulary.
First surf and turf is an expression for online shopping
without the actual shopping. You put items in your basket but never actually buy them.
It's also a delicious meal of seafood and red meat.
Not if you're a vegetarian, Neil.
Ah, good point, good point.
The verb to turf out means 'to remove someone from a place or organisation,
possibly because they've broken the rules or behaved badly'.
For example, if we don't finish the programme on time we might be turfed out of this studio.
The place where you pay for your shopping, either in a real shop or online is the checkout.
That can be a verb as well as a noun: you check out at the checkout.
The businesses that sell you things are retailers.
And with hope they don't sell you things that are out of date
because that would mean they are past their best; too old to be suitable.
And finally there was to fall foul of something or someone, which is 'to make a mistake and get
into trouble with someone'. And as we don't want to fall foul of the next team who need
to use this studio, it's just time for us to say goodbye and to remind you to join us again
for 6 Minute English next time - and if you can't wait, you can always catch us on Facebook,
Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and our website bbclearningenglish.com where you can find lots
of useful audio and video programmes to help you improve your English. That's all for now. Bye bye!
Welcome to 6 Minute English, the programme where we explore an interesting topic and bring
you some useful items of vocabulary. I'm Rob. And I'm Neil. And today we are discussing manbags.
Yes, manbags - they are the height of fashion at
the moment – a stylish accessory that modern men are carrying. An accessory
is an additional item added to something to make it more useful or attractive.
I'm not so sure Rob. I mean, I wouldn't be seen dead carrying a manbag!
Really! So what do you carry your lose change, your credit cards, tickets and mobile phone in?
I just stuff everything in my pockets Rob – it's better than being a laughing stock,
carrying a handbag around!
By laughing stock you mean everyone thinking of you as silly – but you
wouldn't be because it's a manbag Neil – not a woman's handbag.
Maybe I can convince you to change your mind by the end of the programme. But now let's not
forget to ask you today's question… Is it about manbags by any chance?
It is so it might be tricky for you to answer! According to market research company Mintel,
how many men bought a manbag in the UK last year? Was it…
a) 5% b) 15%
Well obviously not many, so I'm going to say 5%. And I'm not one of them!
OK, you've made that very clear! We'll find out the answer at the end of the programme
anyway. Now let's talk more about manbags. For hundreds of years women have carried
their possessions around in handbags, so why can't a man do the same with a manbag?
Maybe it's the name. Why can't it just be a bag? Why does a bag have to have a gender?
It's a trend Neil – a stylish fashion item designed to look good on men. Many big names have
flocked to adopt the trend. Pharrell Williams, David Beckham and Kanye West, are just some
of those who've been spotted rocking a manbag. Rocking is an informal way of saying 'wearing'.
But what's wrong with a sturdy briefcase – sturdy
means strong and not easily damaged. Are you saying manbags are just fashionable?
No, they're practical too. We've always needed bags to carry stuff around
but what we carry these days has changed – you know laptops,
mobiles, even our lunch – so why not have a trendy looking bag to carry these things around in?
I think part of the problem is carrying one is not seem as very a British by some
people. We're not always as stylish as our some of our European neighbours, are we?
Well, speak for yourself! But Nick Carvell, GQ Contributing Fashion Editor has a reason for this.
Here he is speaking on BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme…
In Britain we are still very tied up with that idea of masculinity that is
almost so fragile that it can be dented by carrying a bag.
We think a lot about that in this country in a way that I don't think a lot of European men do.
So Nick feels some British men are still tied up with the idea of
masculinity – these are the characteristics traditionally thought to be typical of men.
And for us British men, these characteristics are fragile – they can be easily broken.
Yes, we can also call it manliness – things like not crying during a sad film. It's a slightly
old-fashion idea but it could still be dented – or affected – if a man was caught carrying a manbag.
Whereas some European men don't give it a lot of thought, according to Nick Carvell.
But with people like Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana designing these bags,
they're bound to have a hefty price tag – that's an informal way of saying a high price.
Well fashion comes at a price Neil – you need to shake off your inhibitions – that's
a feeling of embarrassment that stops you from doing something.
And if you really want to be on trend you could also splash out on a 'murse'
that's a man's purse, or a 'mote' – a man's tote bag? Have I convinced you?
No, not really Rob. I have a feeling that a manbag by any other name is, well,
a bag – and I have one - my trusty backpack.
Well for some people, manbags are the thing – but, as I asked earlier, according to market
research company Mintel, how many men actually bought a manbag in the UK last year? Was it…
b) 15% c) 25%
And I said a) 5%. Come on, I must have been right!
You were wrong Neil. The answer was actually 15%.
And nearly a quarter of 16-34 year olds have bought one.
Well as I say Rob, a good practical backpack is for me. But now shall we unpack some of the
vocabulary we've discussed today. Starting with 'accessory' which is an additional item added to
something to make it more useful or attractive. "A tie is a smart accessory to wear with a suit."
Maybe, but you wouldn't catch me wearing a suit in my media job – it's all
t-shirts and jeans for us! If I came to work in a suit I would be
a 'laughing stock' – I mean, I would be seen as someone who people think of as silly.
Our next word was 'sturdy' – something that is sturdy is strong and not easily damaged.
"If you're walking up a mountain you need to wear some sturdy walking boots."
Good advice – if I was going up a mountain, which I'm not.
Next we mentioned 'masculinity'. These are the characteristics that are traditionally thought
to be typical of men. So we sometimes refer to it as being macho! Like:
"Neil went swimming in ice cold water to prove his masculinity."
That I would never do – I'd rather carry a manbag –
despite their hefty price tag – that means 'high price'.
Finally, we also mentioned the word 'inhibitions' – that's feelings of embarrassment that stop you
from doing something. "Neil's inhibitions are stopping him from carrying a manbag."
It's a bag Rob – just a bag! But we've talked enough about this so that's it for
this edition of 6 Minute English. But before you rush off to purchase a designer manbag,
don't forget to visit our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube pages. Bye for now.