LONDON — They're no longer taking their fashion cues from Queen Elizabeth II, underachieving at work, or socializing with fellow boarding school mates with names like Harry and Caroline. On top of everything, most of them can no longer afford to live around Sloane Square because all the wealthy foreigners are moving in.
But 25 years after they were dubbed a burgeoning socio-economic class in this oh-so-class-ridden country, the legendary Sloane Ranger is alive and thriving, albeit with a regular manicure, a designer wardrobe and quite possibly a first-class degree from Oxford.
Earlier this month, Peter York, the man who documented the small and intriguing tribe of posh and scruffy Englishmen in "The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook," unveiled — with co-author Olivia Stewart-Liberty — the sequel: "Cooler, Faster, More Expensive: The Return of the Sloane Ranger" (Atlantic Books).
Since York wrote the first book with Ann Barr, then features editor of Britain's Harpers & Queen (now Harper's Bazaar), times have certainly changed. For one thing, in 1986, the City of London was deregulated, and there was serious money to be made. Suddenly working in "the City" was no longer a life of three-hour, alcohol-fueled lunches, followed by four-hour, alcohol-fueled dinners at one's gentlemen's club. London was a linchpin in global financial markets, and huge riches could be earned — but one had to work to do it, which is why, often, it was the nonposh, state school-educated crowd (aka "barrow boys") who thrived in its cutthroat atmosphere.
Then, of course, there was the radical transformation of the all-time superSloane, Lady Diana Spencer, from shy, Laura Ashley-clad aristo to media-savvy, therapy-loving, Versace-wearing babe.
"The trajectory of Diana into a rake-thin icon in a Versace shift, with her gang of astrologers, therapists and global gay friends was soooo un-Sloane," says the nattily dressed York, a management consultant, over a cup of tea at his Marylebone townhouse. "She let the side down — and they condemned her."
It didn't matter that the Sloanes disapproved of the new Di, times were changing and their only real choice was to move in rhythm with the new, meritocratic age ushered in by Margaret Thatcher (not a Sloane herself, of course, being the daughter of a grocer).
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