What’s the meaning of ‘masstige’?

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Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: masstige…

I would never have predicted that fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi would give me more than one new word in his chatty and somewhat catty memoir, I.M. The first word, which I blogged about recently was marled.

Today’s word, which also begins with the letter M, is masstige. Here is how Mizrahi used it:

Nowadays everyone has a masstige collection, but in those days the only example of such a thing was Halston’s go at JCPenney twenty years earlier, which ended badly for all involved.

But of course I didn’t know this word! I’m neither an economist nor someone interested in fashion. Masstige, it turns out, refers to mass-produced, relatively inexpensive goods that are marketed as luxurious or prestigious. (To me, the term “rip off” seems as though it would be more appropriate.)

Typical masstige brands include Coach, Godiva, Starbucks and Victoria’s Secret. I guess that explains the cost of a Venti White Chocolate Mocha ($4.75). If you’re interested in learning more about the details of masstige marketing, here’s a useful website.

The etymology of the word shows it to be an exceptionally new one, developed in the 1990s as a blend of “mass market” and “prestige.”

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Dec. 4/19.

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