I Buy, Therefore I’m Not
Shopping and buying are two different experiences and one assumes more power than the other.
Shopping is like masturbating — a highly personal, sometimes guilty pleasure that will often medicate situations* if only temporarily. And the surreal, fleeting moments that come (sorry) at the almost-cusp of your climax, right before an orgasm, can be likened to the act of contemplation when considering whether or not you’ll buy something.
Also of important note: shopping does not necessarily infer buying.
There are nine images of the same shoes in the above slideshow. Only three are original. The rest are simply replicas of the ones you’ve already seen. This is not a cheap page-view ploy — I am not trying to steal your clicks. If you scroll through my Instagram feed, you might find a similar pattern wherein the same shoes documented here have been filtered in Amaro, Mayfair, and Lo-Fi on three separate occasions. So what gives, right?
I have this idea about ownership. As people interested in fashion, we like to display our skillful abilities to put together outfits. It functions as a testament to our being “good” at fashion. In order to do that though, we need to wear clothes that will help enunciate the points we’re making, and to wear those clothes, we need to have acquired them. That acquisition comes often by way of purchase. And for obvious reasons, that can be limiting.
Personally, I love the Prada sandals because they’re a delicate combination of rugged (the rubber sole) and feminine (as evidenced by the accentuation of a woman’s best asset: her ankle) and I want the world to know that I know that. Here’s the thing, though. If we’re getting dressed to tell the world we know things, why not just use social media to shed light on that knowledge? Our digital networks allows us to penetrate audiences. Whether big or small, there is always some level of engagement from at least the people you know, who are ultimately the ones you want to speak to or impress anyway.
So recently, instead of buying things, I’ve been trying to own them socially by posting and reposting and confessing great love for them in order to determine whether I will feel a sense of proprietorship and furthermore if that will actually appease my desire for brick-and-mortar ownership.
I first met the Pradas toward the end of this past August. I walked into the store on Prince Street in anticipation that they’d be there and as fate would have it, they were. So I tried them on and given the fact that I really didn’t need another pair of shoes, I took a photo of my feet in them, thanked the salesman for bringing them out in my size and left empty-handed. It was strangely liberating, but two weeks later, shoes still on my mind, I went back to try them on again.
We rode the same merry-go-round, photo snap and all. By the beginning of October, I’d been searching the shoes on Google Images almost daily. I went back a third time to visit them. By that point, they started to feel like my children at summer camp. I could see them when I wanted to, but at the end of the day, I left them there in someone else’s safekeeping. The process became something of a spectacle if not completely adrenaline rush-inducing. The salesmen knew (and hated) me and I was shopping, but not buying, which felt pretty powerful.
The more often I tried them on, the more urgently I felt like it was my civil duty not to get them. As much as I wanted the $950 clunkers, I wanted to prove that I am self-sufficient and that the shoes I wear do not define me and that what I already have is good enough if not better, even more. The ordeal felt curiously similar to that which we outlined in that story on investment piece shopping but only because I’d started to believe that WCHB clothes (What Could Have Been clothes) — and shoes — only stay romantic and fresh in our minds because that’s precisely where they live: inflated, in our minds.
Last week the novelty of my experiment wore off. I’d just received a check for the last installment of my book advance and because it had been nearing three months since I’d first tried them on and ten seconds since I’d last thought about them, I forewent 950 of my hard-earned dollars to prove how weak I really am.
For the record, though, they’re better than an orgasm.
*What I really wanted to write was, “lubricate them pickles you’re in.”