GIRLBOSS-The Problems with Mainstreaming Alternative Fashion

Girlboss, a Netflix original series chronicling the life of Sophia Amoruso and her founding of Nasty Gal Vintage, isn’t particularly good – evidenced by its struggle to find viewership and critic approval and its subsequent cancellation after just one season – but it still sheds light on some of the issues facing the alternative fashion movement.



GIRLBOSS and Problems with Mainstreaming Alternative Fashion


In the show, Sophia, played by Britt Robertson, is rude, immature, loud, and just generally unlikable. She makes questionable decisions and treats other people poorly to get what she wants. The character of Sophia, as portrayed by Robertson, and her eccentricities and nonconformist attitude reflect , what I think to be, the stereotype of second-hand clothes shoppers held by many people. Buying second-hand, vintage clothing is generally seen as something reserved for certain types of people: those who are trying to make a specific statement with their fashion choices.

In Girlboss, Sophia very much reinforces this belief with her love of vintage clothing being coupled with immaturity, irrationality, poor decision-making, and rebelliousness. The people that join Sophia on her journey often exhibit similar traits, making them equally difficult to relate to.

It’s not just buying second-hand clothing that Girlboss stereotypes though: it’s alternative fashion as a whole. By creating characters that the audience doesn’t particularly like and can’t relate to, the show alienates viewers from the types of activities that these characters engage in, and, for Girlboss, that means fashion choices.



Nasty Gal-The very type of company that show-Sophia had been determined to rebel against.

Additionally, in Girlboss, large, corporate fashion retailers are put very much at odds with Sophia’s more homegrown, personal approach to selling clothes, but real-life events show that this dichotomy didn’t last too long. We won’t get to see these events unfold in the series due to its cancellation, but while Sophia may have started by selling clothes through eBay in 2006, by 2014, Nasty Gal had become the very type of company that show-Sophia had been determined to rebel against. Nasty Gal began to produce its own clothing, doing away with vintage. In November of 2016 the company declared bankruptcy and was subsequently bought by Boohoo Group for $20 million several months later. Little now remains of Sophia’s original vision and Nasty Gal resembles most other large clothing retailers, save for some distinctive vintage styles that the brand carries.

How Girlboss helps us understand some of the issues present in the fashion industry

So how can we use Girlboss to understand some of the issues present in the fashion industry? For many, alternative fashion is still seen as something for rebels, hippies, and those looking to make a statement, and Girlboss very much reinforces this view. Girlboss shows us that “normal” people don’t buy second-hand clothing. Girlboss also shows us that “success” for unique business ventures generally involves corporatization and profit-driven approaches that overshadow the uniqueness of original ideas. Either that, or unique business ventures that are offering up something outside of the norm, often fail.

If you disagree with anything I’m saying or have any additional thoughts or comments (or really loved Girlboss and want to tell me I have no idea what I’m talking about), be sure to let me know in the comment section below!

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About the Author

Ryan is a recent graduate of McMaster University's history program and has a passion for reading, writing, and the art of storytelling . In his free time he likes to blog about movies, TV shows, and books. You can check out more of Ryan's writing at

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