Thursday, 6 February 2014

'Vintage' or Overpriced Second-hand Clothing?

It's no secret that the world's gone wild for vintage clothes.  Vintage fairs pop up everywhere and the majority of the girls who are snapped for Vogue magazine's online street chic are either wearing the 'in' brands like & Other Stories and Stradivarius or simply 'vintage'.

Let's see what Google has to say: define vintage

  1. 1.
    the year or place in which wine, especially wine of high quality, was produced.
    "1982 is one of the best vintages of the century"
    synonyms:year More

  2. 2.
    the time that something of quality was produced.
    "rifles of various sizes and vintages"

While Google may recognise that vintage denotes some form of quality, and indeed, once upon a time should a woman have been wearing 'vintage' it would have most likely been haute couture, vintage Valentino or Chanel.  Not so much these days though.

Vintage now apparently refers to anything second-hand.  And I mean anything.  Even the Sue Ryder charity shop near my house in Headingley, Leeds now boasts a sign outside, claiming it sells 'Vintage clothes!'.  At what stage did a charity shop turn into a vintage store?  From what I can gather being a fan of quality vintage myself, the owners of so-called 'Vintage Stores' now simply spend their time riffling through charity shops and then quadrupling the price.  The only problem being that the charity shops have now caught on to this latest craze for second-hand…sorry, I mean vintage clothes, and bumped up the prices themselves.

I understand that charity shops do indeed give their proceeds to charity but they seem to have forgotten that their original modus operandi was to provide used clothes at fair prices in order to then help people in need.  Minutes ago I was in the St. Martin's House Charity Shop in Headingley and was shocked to see that they were selling used jeans, not even in the style of the popular 'Mom Jeans' which fans of the recent 90's fashion craze go wild for, for £10.

£10 for a pair of jeans may not sound extortionate to most but consider that these were a pair of old, scruffy jeans which had clearly already had a lot of wear.  I may be giving away my age a little here (fuck it, I'm only 26) but I remember the days when even the nicest items in charity shops were generally up to £5-6 and no more!  You can now go and buy a brand new pair of jeans in Primark for less money.  Sure, it feeds our culture of disposable, poorly made clothes as opposed to buying quality pieces, but it opens up bigger questions.  The charity shops have simply gone insane.  With their high prices they are putting off customers and thus defeating the point of their whole purpose - to raise money to help people.

Was St. Martin's House charging £10 for said pair of jeans because they are supposedly 'vintage'?  Does the fact that these jeans have been owned before thus qualify them to come under 'vintage clothing' - this mythical term coined to enable retailers to sell second-hand clothes at ludicrous prices?

We live in a world where it's become acceptable to charge £10 for a pair of jeans that otherwise should have been sold for under £3 and if they had been priced as such the proceeds could already have helped somebody.

We've become so over exposed to and obsessed with the 'vintage' craze that we've lost all sense of what's going on.  These are simply pre-owned items that greedy 'vintage store' owners, and sadly now charity shop volunteers, have grossly overpriced because of our frenzied demand.  Charity shops have detrimentally joined the ugly world of consumerism and the sad thing is I'm sure somebody this afternoon will probably buy the £10 pair of jeans, just to be able to tell their friends that they're wearing vintage with no inkling that of what 'charity shop' really means, and no care for where their money now goes.  If each pair of jeans were priced a little more sensibly the charity shop would be selling more and raking in more money than for a single sale of one £10 pair of jeans.

Now define vintage for me.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Helle Thorning-Schmidt vs. Mary Beard or Why Women Just Can't Get It Right

You've been living under a rock if you're not in the know about the Obama #selfie pic which circulated after the Nelson Mandela memorial service. If you have in fact been residing under said rock then here's the low-down: Obama, President of the United States and Leader of the Free World teamed up with UK PM David Cameron to sandwich Danish Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt for perhaps the most powerful selfie ever taken.

While I personally do find it a little inappropriate that these three world leaders deemed it the opportune moment to snap a pic for posterity, I don't think it deserves the hysteria it's amassed.  Especially since the photographer who took the picture has admitted that their behaviour was actually in tone with the jovial atmosphere of the memorial.  

Of particular note is this article written by Andrea Peyser in the New York Post.  Peyser perpetuates the worst kind of sexism - the kind that is directed at your own sex.  In a world where women should stand together for support to eradicate sexist stereotypes and judgemental misconceptions over appearance, Peyser instead chooses to imbed her article with snide comments, such as:

"Not to be outdone by the president’s bad behavior, the Danish hellcat hiked up her skirt to expose long Scandinavian legs covered by nothing more substantial than sheer black stockings."

Peyser omits mention of David Cameron from her article to feed the shit storm that she is trying to whirl up regarding Obama and the Danish PM.  The mere fact that she has reduced the Prime Minister of Denmark to nothing more than a provocative 'hellcat' begs the question - what has an attractive blonde done to Andrea Peyser in the past?  Peyser slams Thorning-Schmidt for wearing 'sheer black stockings' which I think we can all agree weren't exactly held up with a garter belt and teamed with a corset.  
Helle Thorning-Schmidt is an attractive woman but she is clearly also a successful, intelligent, powerful and driven woman.  Oh, and married to boot.  As is Obama, who is vilified for animatedly talking to her while his wife, Michelle Obama, sat nearby.  Is Peyser simply feeding fraught and paranoid female mentality that should your husband talk to a good looking woman he must be flirting, or with a mind to cheat?  If your relationship is strong it shouldn't matter that your husband is enjoying a conversation with a pretty woman.  Should Helle Thorning-Schmidt dress more like Maggie to avoid implication that she is, in fact, just a Danish hellcat?  Would Andrea Peyser feel less threatened if the Danish PM didn't take the time to get her highlights done or put on a lick of lipstick?  Should intelligent women pay no heed to their appearance so that women like Andrea Peyser don't feel threatened and proceed to stir up a media frenzy so that other women do too?

Which brings me nicely to my next point and the alternative post title: Why Woman Just Can't Get It Right.  In stark contradiction to the whole HelleCat scenario is an educated and strong woman who has paid an equal price for her success in the press.  

Mary Beard AKA one of the loves of my life (I'm a Classicist, not a stalker) has often suffered at the hands of cruel comments regarding her appearance.  

Mary Beard may arguably be the greatest living classicist but after an appearance on Question Time it wasn't her opinions or contributions to discussions which sparked viewer debate, it was how she looked.  One viewer commented that Mary has 'cheese straws for teeth' and she has been dismissed as 'too ugly' for TV, a fact which apparently outshines her superbly crafted documentaries all imbued with her standard wit and humour.  

While Beard herself manages to dismiss the cruelty (although I can't imagine this is easy, even for the most rational and level-headed of women) it again makes you wonder.  What do people want from intelligent women?  These women just can't seem to get it right.  

While the media and public should focus on Helle's policies and her ability to lead her country along with Mary's contribution to studies of the classical world, it is their appearances which take centre stage when it plays no role in either's professional capability.  The Danish PM is branded an adulterous hussy for not wearing a burqa while Mary Beard, a University of Cambridge lecturer, is bullied for not forking out money she earns penning best selling books on expensive cosmetic surgery to fix her teeth.  

It seems to me that the real problem isn't how either Helle or Mary look, it's how society looks on them.  Modern women are given free reign to educate ourselves to a level that we personally see fit, those that have denied women this opportunity in the past and present are branded misogynistic bigots.  You don't hear anyone saying 'she shouldn't be on TV because she's too smart' or 'she shouldn't be on TV because she's too dumb'.  For the latter look to Kelly Brook who can just about string a sentence together but it's OK because she's really, really pretty.

Therefore, women should be granted the same liberty with their appearance as they are their education.  I'm not advocating filthy clothes or ceasing to wash, but if Mary Beard chooses to cultivate her mind rather than her barnet then this should be celebrated, it took women a long time to achieve this 'right'.  Equally Helle Thorning-Schmidt should be praised for her ability to run a country and look great in the process.

In their own ways both of these women are getting it right and it's ignorant people with stone age opinions that are getting it wrong.  You've only got one life and it doesn't last very long, learn what you what to learn, look how you want to look and don't judge other people for doing the same.

UPDATE: Mary Beard herself read this article and called it 'spot on'.  I'm taking this as a win as it comes from a woman who works for the New York Review of Books!  

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Great British Fuck Off: Cher Lloyd fans vs. Get Baked

So a while ago the quirky entrepreneurs behind innovative munchies providing phenomenon Get Baked posted this on their Facebook page, much to the delight of their likeminded fans.

It was met with elation and congratulations by their Nutella (and quite possibly a combination of other substances) fuelled followers who agreed that the ex-X Factor contestant should only receive free cake in return for stuffing it in her mouth and then never opening it again.  Especially to make music.  With some kind of contract signed to set it in stone.

This seemed to be the end of Cher's amusing little debacle but much to the surprise of us Brits, only the beginning of her US music career.  For some reason they fucking love the grimacing little chipmunk.  Although I suppose we shouldn't really be shocked to our cores considering this is the country that produced Ke$ha.

However, what is a little strange, is that a month after the initial incident Cher's new fangled Belieber-esque posse have come across the original Facebook status.  And they ain't happy.

Presenting Exhibit A:

Cher's fans have taken to Twitter to voice their disapproval at Get Baked's denial to provide Cher with cake and treats that are willingly purchased in bulk by struggling students.  Fortunately they are unable between the lot of them to form one coherent sentence let alone a credible insult.  Or even produce a vaguely decent Twitter handle @fartonmeplease. 

@ChersPlayaBoi seems to attempt forming an argument, recognising that GetBaked's sole purpose as a business isn't 'shading' Cher. 

To little avail, her argument, which granted was weak to begin with, simply morphs into a rather depressing existential crisis.

Undeterred by the army of morons hurling poorly crafted Tweets in their direction Get Baked once again call upon their loyal band of munchers to empathise with the utter gibberish they are having to put up with.

In the grander scheme the bakery's savvy little scheme has a certain Justin Bieber/Sankeys feel to it, a plucky little PR move helping to assert the company as an everyman's business.  Think Lorde 'Royals' - finally a resurgence of people who aren't obsessed with the Grey Goose and Grill lifestyle.  We are the Fuck Celebrities Generation.  Who else is fed up of hearing stuck up, talentless twits thinking that by ringing up  budding companies like Get Baked and name dropping they will be sent a complete assortment of their stock?

Cher has yet to comment herself so we're left to wonder (but ultimately really not care) if the now global pop star will deem it worthy of her time to address the twitter storm.  Bets are on whether or not she'll be able to articulate a better response than her crew of questionable disciples.  Perhaps leave it to your PR team, love.

Bravo, Get Baked.  Here's to you, The People's Bakery.  Unless you're a fan of Cher Lloyd.