• The devil wears Primark

    (The Threadbare Collection™, author’s own)

    Apparently, there are two types of buyer: sweatshop-conscious, eco-conscious (and rich) people who buy expensive, durable, long-lasting clothes, and evil people who go to Primark and get a fresh pair of joggers every Saturday. 

    And then there’s me. I have an enviable wardrobe of fast fashion with all the design cues of… not this season, not last year, but five (make that ten) years ago. 

    Collezione Nat Handy, Edition 2021

    You have to go back to about the 1950s to find references in literature to Westerners in threadbare clothing – patched-up suits and reshod shoes. But it’s amazing how much of my clothing literally falls apart around my ears. 

    Maybe I’m just not very good at shopping? Maybe I’m hopelessly lazy? Maybe, even, I’m an eco fashion warrior who thinks ‘Damn, if those sweatshops are going to exist, let’s make the most of every thread!’

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m so vain

    Carly Simon wrote that song about me. I would, like most people, happily have a fresh wardrobe with every season, sporting all the latest thrills. And I would happily have it all handmade by my own personal tailor. 

    Trouble is, I don’t. Instead, I buy really very reasonably priced togs and never throw them away. ‘Still perfectly serviceable’ is my motto until one morning my wife points out that you can actually see my arse. Seriously. Clear as day. 

    By which time we have bypassed the charity shop entirely and find ourselves with, at best, old fabric for recycling. But in the case of many a pant, even that is not worth it. There simply isn’t enough material left to dress an earthworm. 

    Talking of fashion, why are clothes always about the USA?

    retail clothing with US cities and states
    Get your USA themed clothes everywhere!

  • Selling the USA everyday

    retail clothing with US cities and states
    Get your USA themed clothes everywhere!

    This is a very quick, hit-and-run random cross-section of clothes for sale on one floor of a major high street fashion retailer. Notice the theme? This was a kids’ department, so even in the 0-24 months section, we are already feeding our kids with a 100%—yes, 100%—visual diet of Team USA. Why?

    Repeat until it’s invisible

    What I realised as I shopped for my toddler was that I don’t even notice the endless USA USA USA anymore. I imagine most people don’t. For some reason I just picked up on the fact that every piece of clothing that had a word on it, had a word denoting the USA. Every single one.

    US themed clothing
    Yet more variations on the USA theme

    This is not an anti-US rant

    I love America. Sorry to get all Donald Trump on you, but I’ve been there, and it’s great. Even before I went there, I knew it was great. It has been—without question—the greatest cultural influence on my life barring—possibly—my native country of Britain.

    But why—in an age that’s apparently all about limitless choice, individual expression, finding your unique style—is the only graphic choice on the clothes we are sold that of the USA. You can have anything you want—LA, NYC, Chicago, Phoenix, Arizona, California, Hawaii—but only, only if it falls within the borders of the United States of America.

    USA themed clothes
    You’re kidding me. No, I’m not. This photo shoot took me less than 5 minutes

    How crazy is that?

    Where is the Vancouver, British Columbia T-shirt? Why can’t I wear München, Bavaria underpants? Why can’t my son buy a baseball cap (yes, I know, a baseball cap) with Provence written on it? Yeah, I know, I’m sure he could if he scoured the internet. They’re all Western countries, right?

    But what about my Dar-es-Salaam T-shirt? What about his Ceará, Brasil undies? Is a Bamako, Mali baseball cap just beyond the pale?

    If you work in fashion retail, pitch this at your next brainstorm meeting. Go on, I dare you!