Shop Shifting

On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving known as the biggest shopping day of the year, Emily Helpern ’07 and Nicky Berger ’07 fought their way through the battlefield of flying bags and competed with the massive crowd of persistent shoppers to find the best buy.

Eager to shop, they had two different destinations in mind. Helpern was dying to locate the new inexpensively-priced Forever XXI store, while Berger was interested in the expensive men’s section at Bloomingdale’s. 

“I have noticed myself buying more expensive clothes than I used to, mostly jeans and sweaters,” Berger said.         

“Now that I am older and go out on the town more, I want to look appealing to girls.”

Conversely, Helpern has noticed herself shopping at stores that tend to carry less expensive clothing.

“It started when I went to Spain on a program two summers ago,” Helpern said.

“While I was there, I didn’t have my parents giving me money, and I had to live on a budget, so my friends and I would always shop at H&M and Zara. So when I got back home I was used to shopping at those stores and I tried to find stores like that because I thought if I could find great clothes for less, then what was the point in overspending?”

While Helpern started shopping cheap in Spain, the trend crossed the Atlantic, starting with vintage connoisseurs who endeavoured to find the cutest pieces at the lowest price.

Even though the popularity of vintage  clothing has somewhat faded since its original outburst, that same “cheaper-is-better” mindset has sparked a new trend for girls: the best buy is now the best find. 

Sarah McMahon ’08, a former Fred Segal shopper,  started to buy at discount stores once they began to carry clothes that appealed to her own style.

“Recently Forever XXI began to carry much cuter clothing,” McMahon said.

Some say the thrill that they get when they shop at discount stores is the reason they started going.

“It is much more satisfying to buy more clothes for less rather than one Marc Jacobs shirt,” McMahon said. 

Walking to the cafeteria, lunch card in hand, Amanda Epstein ’07 laughed as she saw the number of brand names, not tagged on the back pockets of her closest girlfriends, but clad on the jeans of her male friends.

“I have definitely noticed that my close guy friends have been wearing more expensive brands than I used to wear,” Epstein said.

“It’s funny to see them wearing these brands, but I think it’s really nice to see boys caring about their appearance.”

Ever since he reached the Upper School, Nick Cuse ’08 started to buy more expensive clothing.

He thinks this is mostly because he   was older and received the responsibility of a credit card.

“In Middle School I would mostly wear less expensive brands, but when I started shopping for myself, became able to wear adult sizes and got a credit card, I definitely started buying more expensive clothes,” Cuse said.

Although girls have started to shop at less expensive stores, they are ironically influencing the recent tendency for boys to dress in nicer clothing: males want to impress girls.

Thomas McAndrews ’07 says it is the daily scrutiny he receives from his sisters, who buy him clothing and critique his outfits, that has started his urge to wear nicer brands.

“I have three sisters, and they bought me my first pair of nice jeans last Christmas, and that has had a big effect on what I wear,” McAndrews said.

In fact, this trend has become so prevalent that the popular girls’ store Billy’s, which carries racks upon racks of brand name clothing, is now opening a store for men.

“I have definitely noticed a recent trend in men buying more designer clothing,” Billy’s store owner Billy Widges said.

“Men care more about what they look like and so are buying more designer clothing and are dressing up more.”

“They want to look more upscale casual because it’s so important for women, and I think men are kind of following because they have noticed how important nice clothing has been for women.”

Widges’ new store will carry medium to high priced clothing because she feels “there is a need for it.”

Sabrine Bilger ’08 believes this trend started from the common belief that girls mature quicker than boys, and  then wore expensive brands earlier. Thus, she thinks   for some, the brand name hype has somewhat faded.

“Girls have been shopping expensively for a long time, and I think a lot of girls are just a little over it for now,” Sabrine Bilger ’08 said.

“I mean it’s still nice to buy nice clothing, but girls like to wear different outfits every day and boys can repeat outfits more often than girls can, so now girls are trying to buy more for less,” Bilger said.