By: Gabriella Herran and Isabella Fredrickson
Hustlers is inspired by Jessica Pressler’s article “The Hustlers at Scores,” which chronicles the downfall of Samantha Barbash and Roselyn Keo, two former exotic dancers caught up in a scheme that earned them billions of dollars.
The film tells the story of stripper Destiny (Constance Wu) and how she works to make ends meet with the help of the club’s top moneymaker, Ramona (Jennifer Lopez). Together, they learn how to finesse wealthy Wall Street businessmen who are club regulars.
When the 2008 recession hits, both Ramona and Destiny devise a bold scheme to win back their old lives with their co-workers (Lili Reinhart and Keke Palmer). But find themselves in a muddle of lies that ends up changing their lives forever.
1990s-2000s fashion influences, are heavily represented throughout the film with selections from Juicy Couture, Coach, and Gucci, as well as through the use of denim and massive chinchilla fur coats.
Ramona, aka queen J Lo, wears a Juicy Couture velour sweatsuit with a crown on the back when she is arrested for stealing money and this is one of the most intense parts of the movie. The crown shows how Ramona was the “Queen” as she was head of the group. It was a smart move by the costume designer Mitchell Travers since it is the last thing the audience sees of Ramona before she is arrested.
A prevalent accessory choice throughout the film was handbags. Large, designer bags worn by the characters showed the fashion trends of the time, as well as expressed their financial status. Apart from scenes that take place in the strip club, Ramona is always seen with an expensive Gucci or Coach bag on her arm. As the bags got bigger, this symbolized the women’s financial growth from exploiting the men. The more money they got, the bigger the bag they would buy.
After Destiny’s first big payment, Ramona takes her shopping to celebrate. Ramona enters the mall with a designer handbag, and by the end of the trip, Destiny has one of her own. This is very rewarding to Destiny, as she looks up to Ramona and now has a bag like her. Ramona tells Destiny that a bag can never be too big. Destiny certainly took the piece of advice to heart because the more popular she became and the more her payments grew, so did the size of her handbags.
When her money was at its highest, Destiny was not only buying bags for herself but even Ramona as a Christmas gift. From bonding over bags to showing off financial status and fashion taste, designer bags were a staple accessory in the movie.
Blue-hued denim was another fashion article heavily used in the movie. Characters sported not just denim jeans, but thick jackets as well. Denim even helped inspire Ramona to start her own line of skimpy outfits made of the material.
The use of chinchilla fur coats also played a large role in the film. When the audience and Destiny are first introduced to Ramona, Ramona is seen wearing her big fur coat. When Ramona passes down one to Destiny as a Christmas gift, it not only shows she is equal to Ramona but a way of letting everyone know that Destiny is second in command. The audience can see Destiny’s rank within Ramona’s inner circle rise through this small action.
Hustlers has many different underlying messages, and there’s no denying there are various themes portrayed through movie’s fashion. With the influx of ‘90-00s influenced pieces, from designer tracksuits, bags, and more, fashion plays a major role in portraying the characters, how they present themselves and their status.