Friday, July 25, 2008

Shopping Knowledge & Fashion Engineering

At the risk of sounding like one of the members of the Manic Mama Mafia - we've hit another milestone! I got my first question. So exciting! It was written in response to this post, and it's from my friend Lexie, from Toronto:

"Oh Tina, I have to show you my 'devil shoes'. They don't look devilish at all- in fact, they look rather sweet and innocent and only have maybe a 2" heel or so. AND they were a steal- the store was closing, so they are apparently Italian shoes, originally $140, but I got them for $10. And they HURT!!! I tried to wear them to the mall and wanted to cry. Whyyyyy?!"

Well, my darling, that would be because of one of the Tenets of Shopping: "Everything is on sale for a reason."

Because it's totally true! (That's why it's a tenet, see?) Sometimes, if you're lucky, something could just be on sale because they're making room for the new collection or something - like the colourblock AE sundress I just got. But more often than not, things are on sale because of actual problems, which can be big or small. Like the genuine-python Carolina Herrera bag I scored at Woodbury a couple Christmases ago, marked down to $150 from like, $620 or something. It's this beautiful, well-made, tiny, little thing made of pink-dyed python with a perfectly-balanced pattern and camel-coloured leather. Let me show you: I held it to my heart and rocked it like a baby as soon as soon as it was mine. But why would it be marked down so much, especially if it's real python? It's hardly as if the fashion industry here is like that in Hong Kong, where it's totally uncool and unacceptable to be rocking last season's bags (in most circles, anyway).

Well, if you notice, there's a ginormous buckle at the front. It's thick, solid metal with cutouts. As such, it's very heavy, especially for so diminutive a handbag. When you hold the bag just by its handle and let it hang, I noticed, the weight of the buckle pulls the bag down to a slight foward-tilt. And that, my dear, is a classic case of poor engineering in a piece. Yes, there's engineering in fashion, too! But the nice thing about this is, when it's on my shoulder or against my leg, it's not noticeable at all - because I don't ever hold my purses away from my body like they're stinky diapers, right? In fact, it's not noticeable at all unless you're a real pro or unless I bring it up. So in this case, the bag was totally worth $150 despite the very minor defect.

A word to the wise about outlet malls, though: most of the time, what you're scoring at an outlet is made especially for the outlet. That's right. More often than not, they don't just pluck what can't sell, or what's been left from last season out of the flagships and chuck'em in outlet stores for our perusal - because we'd all just stop shopping at the flagships and dealers and just wait for things to make it to the outlets, right?

Instead, most companies have a cheap/sale/outlet line (I know, that sounds so awful) that is made to be sold at the outlet. Things may be similar to their original stuff, but obviously not quite as good. Like back in high school, when Guess? was still cool, I got this really great purse on sale at a Guess? store, then I saw a way uglier version of it in Vaughan Mills. The materials were cheaper, the work was sloppier, the colours duller, but it was similar in shape to mine. To some, this may be totally worth saving money for, but I wouldn't have it, personally.

Now, there may be a chance that your sweet, innocent devil shoes may become more tolerable for you since you've obviously paid your dues and broken them in already. From my experience, it's sort of 50-50 - if they're just poorly cut/designed, there wouldn't be much you could do about it, I'm afraid (except using them to hold champagne, maybe?) but if it's just a matter of you getting used to them, you'll be fine. Good luck and happy shopping!



Secretista said...

Hmm. I don't know if that bag is my stype of style. I haven't shopped at Guess? in a really long time!

Xtine said...

Hey, Secretista!

Great to see you here again because I love your blog. :)

The bag in the picture is actually a Carolina Herrera bag - I only *mentioned* a Guess? bag I used to have to illustrate a point, and it's not shown here (it was stolen by a limo driver during my sophomore year, unfortunately). Besides, I'm sure we'd never be able to find genuine python at Guess?, haha.

Cheers+Happy Reading!

Alexandra said...

Ahaha here's the response. Sorry I was slow on the facebook response but I've been in Michigan this weekend. The store was closing so they were having a huge clearance sale. I doubt I'll get used to them, but I'll just wear them to interviews or occasions where I can kick them off without anyone noticing. Maybe a bandaid would help in some spots too! Haha but now that I've got dressy shoes out of the way, and I won't be making money for a long while again, that's it for impulse purchases :(

Xtine said...

I strongly advise you not to wear uncomfortable shoes to an interview, especially if they're supremely uncomfortable, unless somehow you're in the fashion industry and you absolutely have to. It'll definitely affect how you do.

OMG#2: Bandaids under shoes look SO awful. And apart from looking gross, they garner pity (and weird looks from people). No, no, no. Even as a conversation starter.

Now, if it makes you feel any better, think about it this way: they were $10, and you've worn them once - $10 cost/wear isn't bad at all. I mean, if you bought a pair of shoes at Aldo, say, and they were $90 or so, you'd have to get 9 wears out of them before your cost/wear went down to $10. That's a lot of events, and pretty good value. I usually aim for at least $10 when I calculate cost/wear. You're there already. Sure, wearing them once more would bring it down to $5, but then you'd need to calculate if the teensy little bit of money you're getting out of it is worth the excruciating pain.