You can buy all these things on her website. Upon further browsing, I was pleased to discover a section called "Vintage" filled with leftovers from past seasons at reduced prices. Stoked on all these finds, I bookmarked the site in my "designers" folder for future shopping potential. I also showed Mike some of the rad menswear.
And then the [choose one: "inevitable," "unfortunate," "worst thing," "best thing," "moment of my dismay," "moment of my elation," "moment of ensuing profound indifference"] happened: urbanoutfittersdotcom began carrying her line.
What reactions I felt may be very different than others, and my politics aren't really what I want to bring up at all. It's the fact that this situation incites a reaction that I want to question. Carin Wester existed before, was sold in stores, lauded by the press, and was accessible online. Then a decision was made to sell the line at UO. I have absolutely zero factual knowledge about how this decision was reached, but I am absolutely certain that a decision, a choice between or among options, was made.
We can certainly speculate about the factors influencing this decision. This is where our agency as consumers enters the equation. Is vending independent designers at massive cool-peddling outlets the best way to support worthy, admirable designers? Or have designers become convinced, through amassed evidence, that such actions are the only way to get us to spend money and ultimately to keep their brand afloat, allowing them to live a life of creativity? Surely empty phrases like "democratization of fashion" help ease discomforts while fashion's least credible and most hype-inducing branch, we blogs, fervently, with frothing mouths, spread word. It's harder to popularize and recognize an independent designer. It's much easier to wait for the PR announcement email and copy and paste it's contents and links.
Would I buy these beautiful Marbella ankle boots from urban if I had $403 lying around?
Again, this is not about me detailing the questionable politics of Urban Outfitters, which has been done quite nicely elsewhere for the uninitiated. But if we all know that UO, Anthro, Forever 21 and the like can only exist in such massive spaces by selling loads of cheaply made, glued together junk, likely produced under unfair labor and wage conditions, do independent designers really benefit? Even with the handful of designer pieces available online, UO is profitting largely from masses of wasteful junk. We also tend to recognize that carrying Wester is one of many attempts to seem fashion-credible and move past the slogan tees. Do we just buy in after searching for a coupon code for free shipping?
I may be way off base, but for me Urban cheapens a brand I wanted to like. I believe in a smaller-scale relationship of profit and livelihood, dreaming of a way designers, small boutique owners, and customers can increase personal wealth (not just the $$ kind) while also scaling back on the rampant consumerism. "Retail therapy," isn't helping to spend us out of the recession - we are digging ourselves deeper into global economic inequality.
I don't know if any of this is important. I will dilute content in the coming weeks with lots of pretty outfit posts, promise. For today, though, I leave you with this expert opinion, from the the Korea Times' article "Fast Fashion's Unpretty Life Cycle,":
"So how can you become more fashionably responsible? Try not to buy as much, experts say."