On shopping at places where everyone else buys their clothes (I’m looking at you, H+M)

Posted on 29.04.2011

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I have a rule: I generally DON’T shop at H+M, ever. Why? Because EVERYONE shops there. H+M would like you to believe that you are a fashionista for wearing their clothing, which would be true, if you weren’t wearing exactly the same thing as everyone else, who also happens to believe that THEY are the fashionable ones, thanks to H+M.

It’s a vicious cycle. It’s a similar cycle for people who shop at Ikea.

Ikea, in my mind, is synonymous with ‘college students’, since when I was in college, and trying to differentiate myself from everyone else, it was easy to see that everyone else was trying to do the same thing by buying loads of fashionable, minimal, hip stuff from Ikea.

Again, perfectly acceptable, but as Mark Twain so rightly said, ‘when you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to reform’.

My first post-college roommate and I, the year after college, made a conscious decision to NOT have a house that looked like college students lived in it. This, we knew (as we were/are both graphic designers with impeccable taste) meant that we couldn’t buy everything from Ikea. We made a decision to ONLY buy the things that were absolutely necessary from the store, and we had a rule that it couldn’t be, as we put it, the ‘circular red rug’.

If you have shopped at Ikea at ALL in the past decade, then you know the rug of which I speak, but for those of you who don’t, here it is:
THE red rug. This is the rug that everyone bought when red was the new black (or orange, whatever) and they wanted to appear ‘individual’. The issue was that all of these individuals were shopping at the same store, therefore purchasing the same rug, consequently ending up just like everyone else, which effectively equals death in the art world.

This rule has served me well, it still does. And I’m relating it here to H+M. Sure, everyone has the Billy bookcase, because the Billy bookcase is a pretty classic design. And here’s where the comparison comes in: When I say ‘Never buy things from H+M’, there is always an exception to the rule. The only guideline to follow here is to NOT let what you buy from H+M (or anywhere, for that matter) be the equivalent of the Red Rug from Ikea.

Translated into layman’s terms, this means roughly: ‘stay away from the patterns, and only buy things that are so normal, so nondescript, that they could have come from anywhere‘. I’m not suggesting that we try to blend in by only buying boring basics, on the contrary, I’m suggesting we buy the ‘feature’ pieces at places that are well-kept secrets, or who carry limited numbers of things, or, if you’re like me, don’t ship internationally/are unknown in your country/area.

I can spot a pair of Express or Rerock jeans a mile away, because I know (and own plenty examples of) what their back pocket decal is. I can walk into a person’s house and tell you what came from Ikea. I can walk down the street and tell you who shops at H+M. Why? Because people have this warped idea in their heads that by buying the thing with the funky pattern, or the new couch in the ‘it’ color of the season, that they are somehow being individual. Obviously, they failed to notice the other thousand plus people in the store with them, in the fitting rooms, in their aisle of the ‘pick it up yourself’ section in the warehouse.

What I’m saying, is, shop at H+M. Shop at Ikea. But don’t buy the things that are trademark. Don’t buy the ‘it’ pattern or color from them. Not just because it won’t be ‘in’ next season, but because everyone else (even those in different countries, trust me on this one) has already bought it and you are no longer different or unique if you purchase it.

You want a real individual style? Thrift like it’s your fucking job. Like you’re getting paid. Ultimately, you are. Because when done successfully, everyone will ask where you’ve got that dress or couch from, and you’ll be the only person you know that has it. Style isn’t looking like the ads in the magazine, or owning everything halfway decent from one store or season. Style is being an individual, wearing interesting things and rocking the shit out of it/them, regardless of whether the fashion mags call it hot or not.

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Posted in: fashion, shopping