11.30.2008

Sadness or Euphoria or Requiem for a Coat

With all the talk of buyer's remorse this season--unprecedented numbers of shoppers returning items shortly after purchasing them upon realizing they can't shell out whatever they had paid in the first place--I began to contemplate my own recent large purchases and wonder whether or not they were worth it. Recall the Strategies and Tactics coat from Anthro:
O, how I loved this coat. But those beautiful brass buttons kept falling off and drooping like sad little soldiers. And I kept catching them and sewing them back on with my awkward unsteady stitches. Anthropologie has a pretty liberal returns policy, so I called a couple weeks ago, after perhaps button #4 had met its demise, and they assured me I could return it. I didn't. Instead, I waited it out a few weeks. I continued to rescue buttons with shaky sewing. I had a fiery debate with myself as to whether or not I should bring it back. I loved the shape and the epaulletes. I admired the ease with which the piece melded into my wardrobe, and even appreciated the slight Sgt. Peppers undertones when I paired it with my favorite sunglasses. Alas, I lost one button and was without any more substitutes. I know I could have replaced all of them, but I paid enough money for herringbone cotton as it was--not even all that warm. And where I'm from, warm truly does factor into coat purchases.

It's an interesting phenomenon by which I tortured myself with the debate regarding whether or not I should have brought the coat back. It was as though I was personally affronted that the coat did not live up to my expectations. Why do we (and I use the term we loosely, mostly in hopes that I'm not the only weirdo who does this) invest so many emotions in a piece of fabric? I suppose this is the pinnacle of successful marketing: to make the consumer feel as though what they are buying is not just an item devoid of personal meaning, but rather a piece of a certain lifestyle or approach to seeing the world. Maybe this is the source of the Wal-Mart tramplings and hysteria--corporations have led people to believe that the items they desire play such an essential role in their lives that the threat of not having them brings with it anger and desperation. Maybe that's how AIG felt when they had to cancel their next big bash. . .

Back to the coat. . .

Determination to rid myself of this source of frustration, I marched into Anthro yesterday, receipt in hand, returned it, and swiftly experienced a feeling of relief--in part due to having my money back, but mostly because I felt like, as a consumer, I had made the right decision. How silly to assume that Goliath gives a shit about David's emotional musings. And then I promptly spent the same amount on the Just-Right Ruffled Coat. . . this time, fully-lined wool. And I concur that with a teeny bit of ruffle, it is just right:



Edited to include: After reading this, courtesy of the fabulous enc, I have decided to cut the Anthro cord. I'm not drinking the kool-aid anymore. The above coat, #2, has gone back from whence it came. I just can't get down with a store who's too good to be perceived as a place where one can secure a bargain. No sir. No ma'am. See our comments for more of my thoughts.

2 comments:

enc said...

It sounds like you did exactly the right thing. There's no way the buttons should have fallen off that coat.

What's brilliant is that you got an even better one.

I think—especially with Anthro—that you buy into a certain idea/ideal, because the marketing is so effective, that it sweeps you (well, me) away.

* * *

I was skeptically dismayed to read this post:
http://www.lovemaegan.com/2008/11/anthropologie-secrets.html

I wonder if you'd read it and let me know what you think?

teach people not books said...

hi enc. thanks for that link to the thoughtful and thought-provoking post about anthro's practices. i hadn't seen it in the past and truly it makes me not want to shop there at all anymore. but let me clarify why, because i think i'm of two minds when it comes to the issues the post raised:

first, and perhaps this sounds shocking in a way, i don't think it's in any way the responsibility of the consumer to concern him or herself with the ethical practices of a company per se when it comes to BUYING POWER. i don't believe it is the place of the consumer or the free market to address issues with corporate ethics and/or violations of human rights--this is an issue for government. government needs to regulate corporate structures so that safeguards are put in place for employees to unionize, work under fair and safe conditions and make a living wage. one american apparel cannot make up for millions of other corporations. i don't mean to suggest passivity on the part of the consumer--by all means, activism and advocacy for laws that suit the interests and rights of workers are DRASTICALLY needed. but it's a slippery slope if we assume that buying power alone--that choosing where to shop and spend our buck--can fix the deep and troubling issues with manufacturing and production in the clothing industry and in many other industries. it's a surface solution that doesn't address a chasm-like problem that is rooted, honestly, imho, in capitalism run amok. so when it comes to how corporations treat employees and so on, if people have the means to choose not to shop there, that's fantastic and they can choose to do so. but it's unfair and unrealistic, for example, to expect parents working 2 jobs a piece and just making it paycheck-to-paycheck to get food on the table to shop somewhere other than wal mart for day to day essentials--diapers perhaps, formula--when they are cheapest at wal mart.

i know that anthro, though, is no wal mart. but there are plenty of companies that run like anthro, and refusing to shop at them is not a permanent solution.

regardless of what i've said above, i'm most turned off by anthro now by the whole not wanting to look like a store where you could "get a deal." that's so interesting to me when you have stores like jcrew and the gap empire that will mark things down and down and down until they are dirt cheap, and then even sell them off to thrift chains for even less. i'm not saying these stores are by any stretch of the imagination perfect, but they aren't afraid of losing some image as too good for good sales. this is what bothered me the most about the info in that post. that anthro wants to be seen as too good for a good sale. a girl like me just can't vibe with a business model like that. for this reason, off you go lovely ruffle coat from whence you came. and i will rest happy with my $228 and no coat from snobbery that is anthro.

thanks for showing me the light! :]