When I think about holiday shopping, the term “fun” generally doesn’t come to mind. I mean fine, religion mandates my celebrating Chanukah over Christmas, which – regardless of what your Jewish friends tell you – stinks like poo once you’re past the age of ten. Perhaps there are a few presents; there sure as shit ain’t eight. But I digress.
I tend to buy a few small thangs for family and choice friends during the holiday season. I do not enjoy this experience and, let’s be honest, neither do you. Gifting things you want for yourself to other people is a serious buzzkill, but hey, ’tis the season to not be a selfish ho. Or something.
I bit the bullet last night and checked out Brooklyn Flea’s Gifted Holiday Market. I was pleased to discover that shopping for others can actually be a blast, provided you choose your venues wisely. Phew, because I was turning into a real Scrooge there for a hot sec.
The live DJ soundtrack bore no obnoxious Christmas tunes; the beer doled out by Brooklyn Brew Shop was free; the vendors were cheery and gracious; the merch was a perfect blend of edgy, artsy-fartsy, trendy, fair-trade, vintage and holiday spirit (if that makes any sense). While the term Flea certainly doesn’t encapsulate the price points, the well-edited selection of material goodies more than makes up for its lack of uber cheapness. Some of the stuff hits $200-plus mark, but most of the uber original and/or handmade thangs are more reasonable than rip-off. Word. To. That. Onto the highlights.
I am a scarf nutball, so I spent about ten minutes trying on options at Rain Lily‘s booth. The Fair Trade company deals directly with artisans all over the world – women in Thailand get a decent wage, you get an accessory that wasn’t made in a sweatshop. Loves it! The handwoven, hand-dyed scarves above are around $20 each. The beige goes to me because I’m boring like that; the green goes to mi Madre so I can borrow it at will. Kidding (but only kinda. Oy!)
The phrase Never Been Worn Vintage Earrings sounds like an oxymoron, so I obvs asked the dude manning the booth for clarification. Turns out Blue Canary Vintage discovered an old warehouse full of the most adorable earrings ever, made but never sold. Blue Canary bought the stock in its entirety, et voila!
One pair goes for $15; two pairs go for $20. The impressive selection merits choosing the latter option – there are doves, hearts, cubes, airplanes, scissors, owls, flowers, coins, knots, keys and then some. Most of the styles are tiny in size and positively dainty – the chic trumps the cheese factor, fo sho. DO IT.
And SPEAKING of cheesy… I absolutely could not resist Blue Canary’s cartoonish astrology pendants, as I’m a sucker for all things Aquarius. It’s legit goofy, but it’s also legit vintage. That means the old-school vibe cancels out the kitsch factor, and awesomeness ensues. (That’s me rationalizing a $20 necklace I don’t need. Sighs.)
Let us close with the most wonderfully absurd shoes I’ve ever seen:
One could probs say that about every pair from Osborn Design Studios – these are just my personal fave. I can’t explain the fascination. I just know I want them need them want to be near them always.
Jewel – out of my head. NOW.
P.S. Kudos to the Flea’s co-curator Lucky Mag for helping put together the most unique, spirited holiday mart in all of the Apple. Kvell-worthy!
We saw it first on Carrie Bradshaw, and it was enough to distract us from her runway spill. Beyonce rocked it for her MTV VMA performance; Prada made it a focal point of a recent collection; Rihanna had the cojones to don it at Paris Fashion Week; Lady Gaga‘s its biggest cheerleader.
The no-pants trend seems to be all the rage. I’m just wondering how the eff we’re supposed to respond to it.
My confusion over glossy-endorsed crotch shots isn’t a mark of modesty, believe you me. My daily uniform consists of cutoffs-over-tights and boots. If that’s slutty to some, pardon me for not giving a shit – you can’t take the Jersey out of the girl. Why not take it to the next level and don underwear over tights instead?
The only style rule I believe in is this: If you feel comfortable and confident wearing it, it’s In.
If you’ve got an entourage cooing about how faaaahbulous you look dahling, then yes, it’s possible to feel secure without being fully dressed. Pay enough people to tell you so, and it’s possible to feel secure in a muumuu too. Maybe some of the runway can be adapted to real life. I’m just not sold on the idea that a real, live woman can expose the outlines of her hoo-ha and still feel good about herself.
For performers, leotards are a costume, a mark of showmanship. For celebrities, bodysuits might be a means to iconic status in fashion. But for women with no audience and no bodyguards, not wearing pants isn’t a groundbreaking style choice; it’s asking for trouble.
I’m not saying if you say no to pants, you risk being judged – that’s always the case with trend experimentation. I’m merely questioning what your outfit says about you when the only things covering your bottom half are full-bottomed underwear and thigh-high boots. There’s a big fat difference between dressing to feel sexy, and dressing to ask for sex.
I realize my pro-pants stance might reek of hypocrisy, what with my penchant for short hemlines and all. Luckily, there are many thigh-baring styles that don’t involve flashing one’s camel toe all over town. Trends are supposed to inspire us to try new things. And when they further objectify an already-objectified gender, they’re better left on the runway.
What’s In according to fashion ebbs and flows, but self-esteem is a go-to khaki trench. It’s one of those trend-defying classics.
Let’s take back the pants.
My adoration for New York is about as obnoxious, enthusiastic and irrational as the Queen Bee of SOTC’s. At least it was, until the ubiquitous propaganda hailing Fashion’s Night Out as, like, the greatest thing in retail EVER started eating away at my Apple-loving soul.
It took me approximately one week to figure out the who/what/where/when and why of Fashion’s Night Out. Here’s what I’ve culled from the PR shitstorm so far:
Who: Vogue + NYC Stores + You, the Shopper
What: An extended night o’ retail that uses designers, celebrities, music and booze as bait to tempt you into spending money.
Where: All over the city, even at Macy’s in Queens. Looks like the recession has Fashion totally hearting the little people.
When: September 10th, 6pm – 11pm.
Why: Because you, the consumer, aren’t spending as much as you used to on crap you don’t need. For retail, that is So. Not. Okay. Vogue & Co. are pulling out all the stops to ensure their monetary survival. Not yours.
I don’t mean to engage in a war on fun, so pardon me for pissing on everyone’s parade. I just think the ultimate goal of Fashion’s Night Out – to get us to spend money – deserves a whistle blow. The celebrity and designer-riddled PSA ad frames shopping as a duty, and tells us the jobs of 175,000 New Yorkers are at stake. You know what else is at stake? My RENT, and if I blow it on a custom-made Chanel bag at Fashion’s Night Out, I can’t afford to live here.
This city might be Fashion’s capital, but the industry only employs about two percent of the 8.36 million people who call it home. If had dough to burn, I’d be able to shop my tuchis off at Fashion’s Night Out and buy in the name of the greater good. But I don’t, and because of the 300% mark-ups the luxury goods industry’s all-too-fond of, my menial dollar isn’t a factor in whether or not those working in retail keep or lose their jobs. And I’m not about to sanction Fashion’s ability to rip me off by contributing money I don’t have to its “cause.”
If Fashion really wants to restore consumer confidence, it’ll stop manufacturing and endorsing shit only the top two percent of this country can realistically afford. The industry’s night out little more than a protest against doing so; a means of maintaining the status quo (see the latest on Saks Fifth Avenue).
It won’t work because it can’t work, because it’s tough for us consumers to go back to coveting and accumulating shiny new stuff once our budgets illuminate how little of it we actually need.
For a fiscally responsible approach to Fashion’s Night Out, see The Cut’s Frugal Guide. And should you decide to attend, know that it’s not your job to help Fashion survive the recession.
It’s Fashion‘s job to get real and adjust.
The below email gave me a nice little chuckle yesterday afternoon:
so i was doing my daily shopbop.com browsing and i clicked on my favorite designer, alexander wang. his new runway stuff apparently JUST CAME OUT, so i checked it out. always one to be disgusted by these outrageous prices, i came across the alexander wang bike shorts. i think my jaw dropped to the floor when i saw what they were charging. i am so deeply offended that they would charge such an exorbitant number for BIKE SHORTS. i understand that everything on shopbop is expensive and me going on their website constantly does not help my anger. but to see $395 for bike shorts really did it for me. they weren’t even made out of anything special which totally bugs me out! for some reason it really truly offended me and i felt that the only other person that i could vent to was YOU!
When first I saw the price on Wang’s Pseudopants, I assumed they were made from leather, snakeskin, or the tusks of a rare, near-extinct breed of rhinoceri. That wouldn’t excuse paying the $395 pricetag, but at least it’d explain the ludicrous cost. Anything crafted from a mix of standard synthetic fabrics just doesn’t merit a number this illogical.
If I’m paying upwards of $400 for SHORTS, that shit better be drenched in diamond dust a la Madonna’s eyelashes. Not made out of fucking rayon and spandex.
In other news, the Council of Jackhole (excuse me) Fashion Designers of America met yesterday morning at FIT in an attempt to address the dire state of the fashion industry. Does Fashion as we know it have a future in le recession?
My advice to the industry? Stop making $395 bike shorts, you money-grubbing bitches. That might give you a fighting chance.
(Thanks to Jaimie for the excellent rant :)).
On their most recent cover, Lucky Magazine printed a phrase never before seen in the history of sartorial publications:
Everything in this issue is UNDER $100.
They weren’t screwing around either. After two uber intensive flip-throughs, I can confirm that every item pictured in the latest issue fulfills the mag’s promise. I’m impressed by Lucky’s willingness to get real about this recession, and I applaud its noble attempt to cater to what’s realistic for the average American consumer – July is certainly chock full of reasonably priced retail. But it’s riddled with something else too. Something that negates every product on every editorial page, something that has Lucky and all its glossy brethren stuck between a rock and hard place. Something called Hypocrisy.
I don’t save back issues of fashion magazines because constant reminders of have-nots kill my mojo, so I can’t prove that a pre-recession Lucky looks a hell of a lot different than a post-recession one. I can, however, use myself as a case study to refute all evidence to the contrary.
I’ve been a devout Lucky reader since January of 2001. That’s eight years and six months and/or 102 issues, the bulk of which were consumed B.B.C.P. (Before the Birth of Cheap JAP (sacrilege alert!)); the bulk of which gushed over $300 tops, $200 jeans and $500 shoes, with a few budget-friendly (read: less-pretty) options sprinkled in for the sake of variety; the bulk of which endorsed the notion that high quality necessitated high cost; the bulk of which told me it was okay to be the label whore I once was. Only when I started shopping secondhand did I realize the ugly truth: By buying into Lucky’s suggestions, I’d been getting ripped off. For years. So. Not. Okay.
I’m obvs a lot less of a brand snob now than I used to be: If I find something at Goodwill that looks and feels fab for five bucks, I’m buying it regardless of its origin. An Old Navy sundress is no better or worse than a Tahari blazer – if they’re equally cheap, they’re equally good. My thrifting prowess might have made me a more open-minded shopper in the world of the gently worn, but where retail’s concerned, the reverse is true. I’m no longer just mildly icked out by what my label whoring ass views as subpar brands – I’m completely repulsed by their cost in comparison with their secondhand counterparts.
Riddle me this: If I can snag a Diane von Furstenberg for $22.95, why the FUCK would I pay $98 for sundress by freaking Nautica? And don’t you go acting all horrified at my snobbery, Lucky – YOU created this brand-savvy monster by cooing over marked-up retail for the majority of your existence.
Let’s play a little game called Under $100 Lucky vs. Secondhand Cheap JAP.
Under $100 Lucky: J.Crew Cotton Ruffled Tank, $70.
Secondhand Cheap JAP: MARC by Marc Jacobs Tank, Beacon’s Closet, $17.95.
$70 might be less than $100; it’s also a retarded price to pay for a cotton shirt. Especially if said shirt hails from a brand as generic as J.Crew. My secondhand tank doesn’t just cost a fraction of Lucky’s recommendation: It’s effing MARC by Marc Jacobs. ‘Nuff said.
Under $100 Lucky: Colin Stuart for Victoria’s Secret Patent Sandals, $68.
Secondhand Cheap JAP: Donald Pliner Wedges, Beacon’s Closet, $18.95.
In my experience, Victoria’s Secret tends to look as cheap as it is; these Colin Stuart patent leather debacles are no exception (also, $68 isn’t even THAT cheap). For shoes, quality is paramount. I mean, isn’t that why Lucky’s Shoe Guides have always endorsed $300 Cole Haan pumps? A high-end wedge that originally retails for $200 outlasts a cheaply-made budget sandal regardless of whether or not said wedge is bought new or secondhand. Hence the reason I prefer gently-worn Donald Pliners to brand new bullshit.
Under $100 Lucky: Route 66 Shirtdress, $30.
Secondhand Cheap JAP: Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent Dress, Monk Thrift Shop, $6.
I shop at Kmart to find affordable things inspired by the overpriced bologna in fashion magazines, and Lucky’s recommending a shirtdress by Route 66 disrupts this natural sartorial order. When you endorse marked-up designer goodies we can’t afford, you challenge us to look good for less. We inevitably figure out how to do so, we get to say “HA!”, and that’s a fun game. When you suddenly switch to the cheap team and start endorsing stuff we actually can afford, you don’t just look like a big fat hypocrite; you’re telling us shit we knew yesterday. And yes, I just called you fat. Payback’s a bitch, ain’t it?
(Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent dresses retail from $150 to $400, BTdubs, and I managed to pay less than $10 for mine. A budget brand for $30 a la Route 66, or a high-end one on the uber-cheap a la thrift? It’s not fucking rocket science.)
Under $100 Lucky: American Eagle Outfitters Destroyed Denim Shorts, $35.
Secondhand Cheap JAP: Theory Shorts, Buffalo Exchange, $16.95.
American Eagle Outfitters… like, the D-list version of Abercrombie and Fitch? Sweet Jesus, Lucky, get it together. I don’t buy denim shorts so much as cut them out of old designer jeans. But if I did, you can bet your tuchis A&E wouldn’t be on my radar for such a purchase. So mind your P’s and Q’s buster, and remember who you’re dealing with: A monster who knows how to snag Theory for $16.95. A monster YOU created.
Viva la resistance.