Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Why We Buy*
I saw this woman in the window of a shop on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. I'd always thought that's where the hippies hung out, but my friend and hostess said, "No, that's Haight Street." And indeed Fillmore Street is a San Franciscanized Madison Avenue. Being a beautiful Saturday morning, everyone was out, and this shopkeeper was getting ready for the day. She was a mannequin come to life. I wanted what she was wearing, to look like her going about my day.
Somewhere along the way Fashion decided we needed impossibly young and thin Ukranians to show clothes to their best advantage. Why? This woman was real and lovely and the best advertisement for what her shop was selling.
Could that be why we are so mesmerized by street fashion? Despite some of the out-for-attention get-ups, what we are seeing is real life— not a store window dummy or an unattainable human shape (you've got be born with legs as long as a racehorse).
I'm going out on a limb here (note well-placed pun) to say those of us who are easily moved by fashion also have vivid imaginations. We can see ourselves in what is presented before us. The more we relate to what we see the more we buy into it.
Are we ready for a revolution in the presentation of shopping? Should store windows be living tableaux and magazines be scanable videos? Maybe not, but I hope those in charge remember that connection to the theatre of the mind— where fashion is a dream and not a nightmare.
* Not to be confused with the excellent book on shopping, "Why We Buy" by Paco Underhill— must reading for anyone who cares more than a fig about these things.