Thursday, November 12, 2009

Weekly "Shopping" Trip

As always, Thursday afternoon is dedicated to one thing: pissing off high end salesmen of luxury goods by not buying anything!  Yah!  Actually, today is the first time I’ve gotten any kind of flak for it, but there are just as many super cool people that work in retail as snobs who get flustered if someone doesn’t buy something. 

I went over to Madison Ave. today with WooHyun on the bus and actually really enjoyed being able to see all the stuff that was on the way instead of traveling underground on the subway.  My main goal today was to go to the Tom Ford store.  I was talking to Steven Broadway, an illustration teacher I model for and the topic of favorite designers came up.

A little bit about him…  He’s about 5’2”, always wears the same green, mesh trucker’s baseball cap and it seems like he might be a huge diva, but in a way that makes you crack up and love him.  He’s an extremely talented illustrator and a really great guy.

I told him mine was Tom Ford and he asked if I’d ever tried any of his stuff on or seen it in real life.


Aghast, he told me I needed to visit his store on Madison Ave. if he was my favorite designer.  Experiencing a garment in person is worlds different than seeing pixels on a screen or ink on a page.  So a few weeks later, I made it a priority to do so…

The bus overshot the Tom Ford store by a block or two and, on our way there, we went by the Ralph Lauren flagship store.  We stopped in and wow…  they have an amazing store and collection.  There was a fireplace, oil paintings… the works.  They’re soooo much more than just a polo shirt company with a little horse embroidery that frat boys love.  The thing I liked the most was a deep purple blazer.  It looked great with what I had on (which happened to be Ralph Lauren also).

In the Purple Label section, where everything was custom-made (also called bespoke), they offered vicuña wool overcoats.  As we were talking about in textiles class, it supposedly trumps cashmere and is the world’s finest natural fiber, for all intents and purposes.  Of course, it’s obscenely expensive.

The fabric swatch they had felt great… but I can think of other ways to spend that kind of money that would give me more pleasure.

Finally, we made it over to Tom Ford.  It was as good as I thought it would be.  I loved a ton there and tried on several things.  The shearling motorcycle jacket was delicious.  The thing with Tom Ford’s stuff is it would be cheaper to have a tailor buy the best materials and custom-make it to my specifications than to buy it there.  Example: as expensive as the $8,000 Ferragamo shoes were that I saw last week, Tom Ford had a pair of crocs for $11,450. 

Also, this was the store that the salesman got a little huffy when he realized I was JUST trying stuff on.  I was kind of amused because he was really nice and attentive to me until then.  It was a great example of how to make a bad impression after someone leaves.  Had he just been rude outright, well then, whatever.  But to come across as just being nice to get something out of me, leaves a really yucky feeling to be on the receiving end.  I’ve worked plenty in sales so I can relate to him some and I’ve probably left a person or two with the same impression before, but I guess if you’re gonna be fake-happy, don’t break it in the middle of interacting with someone.  But I left smelling of their Tobacco Vanilla cologne (and I can still smell it floating from my sweater in a spicy cloud around me as I type this) so it's allllll good.

On my way over to Dolce & Gabbana across the street, I stopped in Issey Miyake.  I didn’t like much but I really liked the black painted on dye (?) on a women’s jacket they had.  Click on the image to see it bigger so you can see the pink barely tinting the black.  Very sweet.

Dolce & Gabbana (different than D&G... think Gap vs. Banana Republic) had some really stellar stuff.  Excellent fits.  Their shirts were great.  Here’s a front and back view (sorry for the shoddy pictures!):

At the urging of some of the coolest saleswoman I’ve met in a while, Dane, I tried on one of their suits.  I think it was like fifteen-hundy…  I’ll probably BUY a tuxedo from them when the time is right.  If I rented one, it’d be too hard to hand it back over.  Both the top and bottom look out of this world alone, too. 

Dane and I got to talking and she was showing me some of their more absurd things like a $50,000 croc bag and, the ultimate Veblen good, a pair of $2,200 jeans with 18 kt. gold plated hardware, and she was telling me how superficial fashion can be and how silly some of the guys that came in where.  Like complaining they were tired of buying $5,000 bags for their girlfriends and frustrated the women didn't appreciate it and saying they were just going to start giving it to their wives instead.

We chatted for about 15 minutes about self-esteem and fashion and relationships (she was married).  We agreed that it’s very ugly for someone to buy very pretty clothes hoping it makes them pretty.  Oh, and we weren’t referring to ugly as in how someone looks on the outside, either. Super cool chick.

On my way back to the subway, I zipped in and out of Etro.  They’re so colorful!  Their clothes make you smile J  Here’s a fun purple corduroy I liked.

So what have we learned?  Be nice to people and don’t dress to impress.  Dress to have fun.

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