Anyone who went to a public school in America in the late 90s and early 2000s knows that all the cool kids wore either Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale, or American Eagle Outfitters. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. You either wore those ridiculously small tee shirts with the brand name blasted across it or you were a loser. I was a self proclaimed loser because I refused to purchase clothes from those stores. I had a part time job at The Gap and I’d be damned if I shopped anywhere else. Between my 50% discount at The Gap and 30% discount at Old Navy and Banana Republic, I had no need for any other stores. That being said, I was basically a walking billboard for The Gap, but let’s face it, there are worse things that could happen.
Remembering how popular those brands are, I find it fairly shocking that the titans of teen clothing are faltering. I mean, faltering hardcore. The New York Times recently wrote about the stream of tears that are being shed by said retailer’s CEOs. Where did all the teens and tweens go? Well, I’ll let you in on a secret, they’re still there, they just aren’t that into you. With the prevalence of fast fashion retailers like H&M, TopShop, Mango, and Uniglo, teens are are able to copy runway inspired looks at a quarter of the price. No one wants to dress like Lizzie McGuire anymore. Now, the average 14 year old is seeking inspiration from the latest It girls like Olivia Palermo and Alexa Chung. And even in the fly-over, midwest states that might not have access to H&M or Zara, Target’s designer collaborations are an easy way to access the latest trends. Place on top of that the fact that teens just aren’t working as much as they used to-so their discretionary income is pretty much nil- and you’ve got a whole lotta half dressed Abercrombie models sulking around empty, dimly lit, over fragranced stores. It’s enough to make you want to cry, or laugh uncontrollably.
I mean, honestly, how long did people think they were going to be able to ride that bubble? The average shirt at Abercrombie costs $60. $60 for a shrunken, plaid, cotton, button down shirt. You know where you can get the same looking shirt, for less money? H&M. Teens don’t want to shell out money on stuff they can get cheaper. Teens want to keep their money so they can spend it on Zynga games or iTunes albums. They don’t care about wearing a zip up hoodie with a large A and E stitched across the front. Teens don’t even want cars anymore. All I wanted in high school was my own car, even though I knew I wasn’t going to get one. And I didn’t get one until I could pay for myself when I turned 19 and bought a $900 1994 Ford Escort. It was white and had a hatchback and it was awesome. Those two large dents in the front added character.
When I go shopping, I like to imagine that if the store was a person, what would she or he look like. As I wander up and down the aisles and look through the shelves and stacks of clothing, I try to get an image in my head of who this person is. What’s their favorite food? Where is their dream vacation spot? What’s the item of clothing they can’t live without? Do they speak another language and go traveling all over the world? Or do they prefer to sit at home and snuggle up with a blanket and book? This could either be the work of an overactive imagination or proof of my slow descent into madness. Either way, it’s something that I do and something that I would like to share with you guys.
Now, if I could draw, I would sketch out lovely images of women, surrounded by the items that they love. But, a talented artist I am not. Nope, not at all. But, where my natural talents fail me, I have polyvore to lift me up!
She’s in grad school, studying every second she can spare. When her nose isn’t buried in a book, she’s breathing in the fresh air and laughing at something her best friend just texted her. She walks too fast and falls deeply in love with all the wrong guys. Her nails are always chipped because she doesn’t have the patience to keep them up. She’d much rather be hanging with friends or studying with her classmates. Her part time job working at a non profit allows her the flexibility to still live her life while also earning money and making a difference. She’s earnest and headstrong. Easy going and well read.
You know that girl who just looks like she speaks French, can wake up looking gorgeous, and throw together an amazing outfit in two minutes without even breaking a sweat? Yea, that’s her. She traveled during her gap year and took up random language classes as she traversed across Europe. While spending a summer in Paris, she befriended a designer, who used her as his muse for his upcoming collection. Her boyfriend is a classically trained cellist and she likes to show up to his performances looking chic and mysterious. Her studio apartment is small and messily tidy. Stacks of magazines sit upon thrift store tables. Pillows and cushions are strewn on the floor, remnants of last night’s gathering of friends. Her refrigerator is covered with postcards from pals overseas and black and white snapshots of random days walking through the park.
She can sing every lyric to Lana Del Ray’s Young and Beautiful and rap every line of Salt N Pepa’s Push It. She can spend hours on her hair and makeup, yet put together the perfect outfit in 10 minutes flat. Her future is wide open and before her. She is in love with life and makes no qualms letting you know it. Her days are long and her nights are even longer, but she bristles at being called a club girl. Her quick wit and easy charm makes her a favorite among the girls and guys. But she knows how to bite when backed in to a corner. Her lips are in a constant smirk, a telling sign of the quick witted quip to come.