Friday, 9 January 2009

Baths and secret shopping: An evening in with Monocle Weekly

I had the flat to myself last night and chose to spend the last part of my free time in the best place possible...A hot bath accompanied by Issey Miyake frangrance infused bubbles (a Christmas present) and keeping me company was the second edition of the Monocle Weekly and a cup of tea. Ever since I played in the bath with my Donatello action figure (One of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this model was extra special as it had an effective swimming action), I have enjoyed spending at least half an hour so at a time immersed in bubbles and steam - there is a stigma of sorts attached to using this bathing method but I don't care who knows!

The first edition of Monocle Weekly for 2009 is just over twenty eight minutes long which is a pretty perfect amount of time to play around in a bath...any longer and there is a danger of emerging prune like out of the water. It discusses the run up to the inauguration of 'that one' and some tales of Iceland but more interestingly for us, discusses the status of the premium menswear market in light of the near apocalyptic financial conditions. The show is far from perfectly executed but it is refreshing to see this type of thing offered and I recommend listening to a bath of course.

On being introduced the correspondent, Sagra Maceira de Rosen, shares a little joke about the pecking order of shopping in the average household..."first the kids, second the wife, third the pets and fourth the men" which highlights the traditional difficulties effecting the menswear market. It is pretty obvious to me that this hierarchy has been challenged and altered in recent years but it does demonstrate that the menswear market has always been up against it. She then goes on to say that we are facing a very conservative environment which will see a return to brands offering basics. Unfortunately, she makes the obvious point that in a recession, tailoring is one of the things which suffers most (a sad truth). However, one of the positive things which might come out of all of this, is consumers will focus more on value. Value doesn't equate to cheap. Cost per wear is just one equation which is important and should be applied to all purchases. In terms of my own shopping style, over the last couple of months I have really concentrated on buying items which firstly, I need and secondly, that will last. Lasting basics have always important to the menswear market and will be even more so today but I also look to buy more extravagant pieces which could be worn in many years to come. Pieces which will hang in my wardrobe and always offer a good option, like an interestingly cut suit.

The show then discussed something which made me chuckle into my cup of tea. A great deal of attention has focused on the impact of the crisis on retailers, during the final few hectic days before Christmas, reports on the number of shoppers, what they bought etc filled news reports, but none made me laugh like this one. Apparently, in New York within the luxury stores (Hermes is quoted) when people were buying this they were asking for their purchases to be placed in plain, white bags as opposed to branded bags (in truth I've never been too keen on heavily branded bags but then again I don't like anything which is heavily branded). The people who are shopping are somewhat embarrassed by their purchases...if they feel this way, as in if they have something to hide...maybe they should not be buying it in the first place. This scenario made me laugh because it reminds me of people drinking alcohol in the streets but of course using brown paper bags to ingeniously hide the fact that they are drinking. It creates a strange shopping landscape where people can still shop but no one has to know about it.

Have your spending habits changed? If you are shopping, are you doing it behind veils of secrecy?


Anonymous said...

I like the idea of a weekly soak in the bath to the sounds of Monocle.

As for secret shopping, the closest I'll get to that is pretending I haven't just bought another sackful from the charity shop...

Anonymous said...

I listened to the Podcast last night as well (not in the bath I hasten to add). The plain paper bag issue interested me greatly given that we started out and still use totally plain and anonymous packaging.

I feel like a trend setter!

StyleSalvage said...

Isabelle - It will certainly become a weekly feature.
Daniel Jenkins - You so are...just look at netaporter now following suit! In my opinion nothing beats parcels wrapped in brown paper and string. I just find it funny that some of the people who loved nothing more than to parade branded bags are now asking for unidentifiable.

Anonymous said...

Steve -Thats exactly what we do (well actually it's deadstock bags as used by the police for evidence bags in court... and green string).

Giancinephile said...

I'm afraid not. haha

I'm most of the time happy about my new purchases but I do think thrift shopping would be very much an inevitable option for me in the coming months.

Ian Brown said...

Huh. I like to use my upscale shop bags as totes to give the impression I'm always shopping for luxury bits. Wouldn't want to give off the wrong impression, y'know.

fuchsiaboy said...

been thrift shopping so no guilty feelings for me.

i do like shopping bags that can be reused. a bag without a name is much easier to recycle. fabric bags are nice, too. for me it's like an extra present.

Style Salvage Steve said...

giancinephile - Thrift shopping and modification projects are the way certainly will be interesting!
ian brown - ha, I love that you are taking the opposite approach approach!
fuschiaboy - I wish more stores offered well designed cloth totes!


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