As I’m sure you are all aware, SATC2 premiered last week and there has been a reveiwer backlash against the movie for, among other things, its rampant consumerism, which is gendered specifically female. Rad at The Cohabitating Closet recently opened up the debate about this response to the film and her statements, plus the comments, make for a rich read on the gendered approach to disposable spending.
So I won’t talk about the movie, which I haven’t seen.
But this did get me thinking about shopping. Many of you are expert thrifters, employing a reduce-reuse-recycle approach to fashion and coming up with some bijoux ensembles that are a far cry from the high street. I used to be able to do this too, but I seem to have lost my edge. For my teens and all of my twenties I bought almost everything at Goodwill’s buy-the-pound. I distinctly remember weighing in piles of floaty skirts, weirdly-patterned dresses and holy (with holes) cashmere cardis at the cash and hoping against hope that the whole thing came to less than $5 because that’s all I had. I honestly didn’t think about the ethical implications of shopping this way–it was an economic necessity for me.
Now, however, when I am lucky enough to have more than $5 for a clothing allowance, I find myself trying to think more about what I buy and where it comes from, though this is not always easy and, while I think about it, I don’t always follow through on the ethical, local designer, conscientious choice in the ways that I should. Sometimes these options cost more than I can comfortably spend, sometimes these options are not entirely work-appropriate, but I am nonetheless aware that I often buy items that are produced in conditions I would prefer not to support. Yet I do it anyway; call it retail cognitive dissonance. I don’t have a decent excuse for this behaviour but I know that I do it and I need to think more deeply about it each time I find myself at a cash register. And I also know that I am speaking from a position of privilege when I examine my shopping habits in this way and I discover that I am not so different from the privileged ladies of SATC (obviously with a much smaller budget, but a budget nonetheless). In any case, at the moment I am trying to curb my shopping, and to think about my shopping, with offsets.
That said, currently I am resisting these babies:
They are Toms, which, as I’m sure you are aware has a One-for-One approach to shoes: for every pair of Toms sold, Toms provides a new pair of shoes for a child in need.
I have known about Toms for awhile, and I love this approach but until now, I was not thrilled with the “bedroom slipper” aesthetic their shoes had going on. The brilliantly hilarious Daddy Likey has reviewed them here.
These fantastic wedges are available in a colourful array of solids and stripes and they look like the perfect summer shoe, with the added bonus of helping a child in need while shopping.
But, I already own these brightly-coloured canvas wedges (Keds):
And I can make a donation to any charity I like, at any time. This is not to disparage the excellent business model at Toms, which I think deserves my custom; this is just to say that I don’t have to buy myself something in order to be charitable and maybe I should remember that too.
So SATC(2) can’t be all bad if discussions about it remind me that Toms, and companies like Toms, are out there in the retail landscape as well and that consumerism doesn’t have to look the way that it looks in the movies. The thing is, most of my best times have been spent shopping with my girlfriends, even if I didn’t buy a thing. And that, to echo the campaign of a well-known shopping enabler, is priceless.
What else do you get–besides pretty things–that is of value when you shop?
Toms has not compensated In Professorial Fashion in any way. I admire their business model, and now their shoes, independently.