A story of a new (bargain) shirt

I like clothes. Always have. I’m not high-end, mostly favoring thrift stores. I want the savings, yes, but I also feel this country is obscenely awash in clothes. I don’t want to add to the problem.

It wasn’t like this when I was growing up. Now, I can’t believe how swamped we are in clothes. Not only is there an abundance of new things, thrift stores, church sales, and private yard sales almost always feature piles & piles of clothes.
The value of clothes, save designer and other “desirable” labels, has plummeted. I know a lot of these clothes – perfectly decent things – must end up in the dump. At a point, even charities are saturated. I try to be mindful of this when shopping.

I want to show you a recent store-bought find.

IMG_20150207_124441

Isn’t that beautiful? It’s just my type. Awesome colors, flattering, and the sleeves are long enough.

But look at this!
IMG_20150313_080511

49 cents?!? I almost wondered why they didn’t just give it to me! Clearly they wanted it gone! Usually if something in a store starts at $16.99, and ends up at 49 cents, there are several stops along the way, a series of increasingly lower stickers stacked on top of one another; $14.99, $11.99, $6.99, and so on. This had no stack. Just one swift price cut. (Sometimes, this means a close examination of the garment at hand will reveal a big tear in the seam or a mystery stain, for examples, but I saw nothing wrong with this shirt).

My time in retail was brief and did not extend beyond my teenage years; I’ve no idea how these things work. And I’d imagine things have changed anyway. It makes me wonder, though, if this shirt hadn’t sold at this price, where would it go next? (They don’t have a “free” pile in the store – nor have I ever seen such a thing.) Out of curiosity I just googled “where do clothes that don’t sell go“. Oh this is nice. Destroyed so they can’t be worn and tossed into the garbage, at least in some instances. Why am I not surprised. Some unwanted clothes get sold en masse, i.e., by the pound, to Africa, which is also where a lot of donated second-hand clothes go, apparently.

I also learned why labels are often cut out of clothing that turns up in marked-down or thrift stores. The fancy label people don’t want their good name tarnished by having it worn by the likes of poor people who couldn’t afford it new! Hahaha! That’s good [sarcasm]. It’s like saying, “I’ll help you out, but you can’t tell anyone you know me.” Oh, I like that [more sarcasm]. What if you were a homeless person and got some designer hand-out with the label cut out, so you made a big cardboard sign with the designer‘s name crudely written on it and wore it around your neck while walking about your city? Now that, that would be good!

I am starting to feel better about my 49 cent shirt, given all this. A little anyway. Buying new clothes may be perpetuating a problem, yet on the other hand, I possibly saved this shirt from the garbage.

I want to show you the label that came with it.

Huh? What's this now?

Huh? What’s this now?

I’ve kept this label and read it several times. This is just the sort of thing that bothers and preoccupies me. What on earth does it mean?? Clearly, the brand went to a bit of trouble, maybe even hired a writer, to come up with this. But it doesn’t make any sense. How do “unique artworks” and “fond memories” come together with my “personal style?” How, I ask you, how?! Whose fond memories?? Mine? Theirs? I don’t know the people at Vintage Suzie. This is the first I’ve ever heard of the name, so their fond memories really aren’t of much interest.

And what about this albeit pretty shirt reflects “beautiful eras” and “exotic places?” Lord, they aren’t talking about the 60’s and 70’s are they? And the admonition that I “be beautiful, live differently, and dress Vintage Suzie?” If I was going to “live differently,” I doubt buying and wearing clothes would have much to do with it. Don’t people who “live differently” tend to do things like set up homesteading in the woods? Or start themselves a scary cult? Or insist on being called Sir Lancelot the Eighteenth, or some such? Buying fashions, cute, “vintage,” or not, aren’t usually high on the priorities.

Lest you think, as I initially did, that the copy was written by someone not overly familiar with English – and I am being unfair in mocking it – let me end by showing you this.

Yep, USA.

Yep, USA.

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15 thoughts on “A story of a new (bargain) shirt

  1. Kate Crimmins

    When I worked, I went through a lot of clothes. I love clothes and fashion. I rarely wear anything out so I donate older pieces. I’ve often wondered what happens then. Some are sold in thrift shops but I also learned that some go into bins where fabric is sold by the pound as rags. Not sure what they do with it. I prefer to think that my old treasures are in someone’s closet.

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      I’m like you; I donate a lot of clothes. I want to think they’re helping somebody – and they probably used to – rather than helping a business.

      Locally, there’s occasionally a “free clothing” giveaway at the community farmers market. Mostly, it’s kids’ clothes, but not all. It’s all free, even if you don’t have anything to donate. I like giving clothes – This way, you at least know somebody will get to use it.

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  2. John Callaghan

    After WWII came the mass ptoduction of consumer goods. This standerdized items like fridges, furniture, telivisions, and clothing. They may have slight variations but basically, say, a fridge is just fridge. It keeps food cold. Same with clothes in many respects. So that’s when advertisers invented branding. Branding tells the consumer that when you buy a product you are also identifying with a set of ideals, a segment of a culture, you are actively promoting and participating in a tribe. Thus, the label on your shirt. I think. Maybe?

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    1. writerinsoul Post author

      What then, does “Vintage Suzie” stand for?? What must I now believe?

      I get you on the mass production of consumer goods after WWII, but I’ve noticed anecdotally, a big upsurge of clothes in the last 20 years or so. You know it’s bad when businesses sell them by the ton!

      Part of the problem now too, is the disposability of so many things, including clothes. Who buys a coat and expects to get 10 or 20 years’ use out of it? Again, anecdotally, my own clothes used to last longer – not that they were ever high-end; rather that even less expensive clothes were better made.

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      1. John Callaghan

        I’m not sure what exactly “Vintage Suzie” stands for. It is a nice looking top though. As far as how much clothes, consumer goods, we have. . . well, sadly our standard of living is due to the slave class we have at our disposal. Pretty much all the goods we have are made for pennies-an-hour labour performed in places like China, Bangladesh, and India, by mostly women and children. It can be made cheap and disposable because we have so much more money due to the slave class. If something wears out it is not a big deal to replace it. Every successful nation state, the Greeks, the Romans, etc. was wealthy and prosperous bacause they had slaves. Our slaves happen to live geographically far away so that makes it all palatable. But we are slave owners.

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          1. John Callaghan

            I always laugh when politicians tell voters they’re going to bring jobs back to America from overseas. It sounds good but if that happened the cost of goods likely triple or quadruple.

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  3. markbialczak

    Copywriter, here’s a photo of a clothes designer. Her name is Mary. Mary wants to name her line Suzie. Here’s a picture of her first design, made in her garage. Give us four sentences Mary can pin in all of her garments.

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    Reply
    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Haha! Yeah, I know – copywriter went to some trouble to write that. It is probably the company’s vision statement. And only they know what it really means…

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  4. battlewagon13

    You misunderstood – the TAG is made in the U.S.A. The rest of the shirt is Bangladesh-ahoy (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I’m addicted to Thrift Stores and eBay – very seldom buy anything from an actual store.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. writerinsoul Post author

      Oh, I get it now! The tag is the important thing after all. My store ventures are few; the only trouble with my thrift & yard sale shopping is that you can’t be too specific about what you want. Or be willing to wait a long time for it to turn up.

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