When it comes to holiday time I always get to thinking about this consumerist society that we live in. In the past two years I have gone from being a brand-obsessed buyer to a minimalist (with the exception of my boot collection).
A year and a half ago I found myself wondering around a designer outlet mall near Florence Italy. This was not the kind of “designer outlet mall” that you would find, say in Buffalo NY- this one had Prada, Burberry, Fendi, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent. The outdoor mall was beautiful and it held the kind of stores that the 18-year-old version of myself would have absolutely died over. Seriously.
When I was 18 years old I went on my first trip to Holt Renfrew in Toronto, where I was entranced by the luxury goods that surrounded me. I was a poor student and thus not exactly in the position to spring for a Fendi baguette or any such thing, but I did buy a Fendi keychain. Yes a keychain. It was all I could afford, and I absolutely *needed* to have a memory of this first trip to Holts, as I was sure there would be many more in my future where I would be able to buy more substantial items. I also had my sights set on a buying position at this store when I graduated from Ryerson in Fashion Communication, so I felt like this keychain was more of a momento. It was almost $100 for this keychain, and a few days later I realized that the gold finish wore off in certain parts and that the clasp would randomly unhook leaving my keys to scatter to and fro in the bottom of my bag. Not exactly the greatest way for a university student to spend $100.
But back to the outlet mall. So there I was at this great Italian outlet mall that I’d been referred to by a few fashion bloggers of Toronto. I had to persuade my friend to drive me there, as it was a few hours out of our way, and to spend an entire afternoon of our short trip in Italy to shop. It wasn’t an easy feat and we got lost on the way, so my friend was not in the best spirits about this whole endeavour. I was *convinced* that it would be worth it. I was ecstatic to visit this grand mall that I’ve read about on fashion blogs that might just be my new mecca. I walked around for a few hours. First I was in Fendi, looking for something that wasn’t too guache and over-the-top with “look at me” labels and then off to Gucci, and then even in Roberto Cavalli. Nothing was catching my eye. I was feeling rather meh about the whole situation.
My final last ditch attempt was the Prada store. Surely I would find something there as Prada had fantastic bags and shoes that I used to obsess over when I worked at a luxury department store in Vancouver. There had to be something that I would want to buy, to bring home, to show off and say “oh I just picked this up in Italy …”. You know. And nothing. And everyone in that store was frantic to buy everything. Women were lined up with numbers to be able to be served and to try on shoes and then I realized that I was just not into it anymore. Suddenly I didn’t see the difference between these women obsessing over Prada and the women sharpening their claws over Coach handbags at the Buffalo outlet mall.
Where was that girl who would just gush over clothing, accessories, and labels and dream of the moment when she could acquire said goods and wear them? She was totally absent from this shopping excursion. Meanwhile my friend was expecting me to rack up some serious points on my credit card with all the fuss that I made about coming to this outlet mall in the first place.
The writing was certainly on the wall on that fateful day, but in the past year I’ve gone freelance and haven’t had the healthy, consistent paycheques of yesteryear. This has caused me to really take a closer look at the way that I spend money and I’ve really taken a step back from the consumerist lifestyle. Of course this has been thrust upon me, but I’ve found this inner peace of no longer “needing” this new piece of clothing or handbag or pair of shoes any longer. It’s been a refreshing break for me as I’ve been the brand-obsessed girl since I started reading Vogue at ten years old. This doesn’t mean that I don’t admire fashion and luxury items, but I no longer “need” to have so much stuff in my life. As long as I have the basics, I feel satisfied. Minimalism feels great.