I have an exceedingly embarrassing story to tell today...how to begin?
I have very specific (if eclectic and highly impulsive) tastes. My eye knows exactly what it likes and what I doesn't like, even if my intellect sometimes takes some time to catch up. I am also very aesthetically-driven in my actions. There are those occasions upon which I see something which, for purely sensual reasons, I simply cannot pass up.
Often, there is a long courtship during which I wonder whether I can justify owning said object. Sometimes, I jump through various hoops to find a way to own it in a format that I can manage (resale? homemade?).
Sometimes it just lives on in that corner of my mind which contains all the things I secretly wish I could possess. And sometimes (hopefully more often than not) I come to a sort of peace with the inevitability of not possessing - a zen sort of place where I am at one with my appreciation of said object without needing to either touch or own.
Are you still with me?
Anyway. So yesterday in the midst of a long work day I took one of my brief internet breaks (which is how I clear my mind and uncramp my drawing hand) and happened to click on the GAP kids site looking for some winterizing for the Q, who is perpetually in need of gloves that she won't reject point blank. There I came upon the beautifully-photographed promo for the limited edition Stella McCartney collection. Now, I should preface this by saying that I never buy retail for the Q. She grows like a rice paddy in flood season, and there is no financial sense in buying her something at retail price that will fit her for maybe three weeks. We have a superb kiddie resale store in the neighborhood that I haunt like it's my job. When I need something unique, I buy one-of-a-kind from Etsy and (maybe once or twice a year) something very special from the eloquent hands of Charlotte at VDJ or Valérie at L'Atelier de Marie et Rose-Alice.
But when I opened up the Stella boutique on the GAP site, I saw something that instantly set all the strings of my aesthetic heart a-humming. Oh, that band jacket. It pushed every one of my buttons. So 1967...So Sgt Pepper! An instant classic (and I don't say that often).
I tried clicking off the site and letting all my red-hot acquisitive sensors cool down for a while. But to no avail. Next work break, I was back gazing covetously at it again. I could picture the Q in it, layered over one of her frayed Yo Gabba Gabba t-shirts and a pair of old jeans. I could feel it in my fingertips. The frogging. The rich serge blue. The subtly nipped waist.
By the third work break of the afternoon, my will had deteriorated enough that I actually clicked on the listing itself to see the price (not in my reasonable range) and if they had it in her size. When I saw that they did, I experienced a slight reprieve. Available, so not quite so desperately desirable (Wait! Isn't that how I picked crushes in my teens? Oh, the humanity). I once again had the strength to snap the window closed without clicking on the "cart" button first.
After that, I was briefly OK. I was able to finish out my work day without any more obsessive site-surfing. But when, upon finishing a particularly arduous and detailed painting, I allowed myself a little "treat" and clicked on the item again (just to look, mind you)....POOF! Gone. No band jackets left in any size.
(this is, at least, how I remember it happening. I heard from someone else that it was never available online, so maybe this part is all a product of my fevered imagination)
That sent me into an instant panic. Desperate now, and kicking myself for not listening to my initial instinct, (the humiliation) I googled it. Surely there was someplace, SOMEWHERE in the whole worldwide web, where I could obtain that jacket!
Notice that, at this stage, all deliberation had been thrown to the wind. I was willing to go to any lengths and pay any price for that object of my desire. Ugly? Undoubtedly. And yes, I know exactly to which marketing ploys I was responding. The deliberate creation of a false scarcity in the market is always a killer. But actually, this fascinated me even more, since no marketing campaign in recent history had succeeded in getting me up out of my chair, much less out the door to the mall.
What did google come up with? Nothing. Zip. Zero. Not a single listing, save for a solitary style blog entry which told me that said blogger had called every GAP store in NY searching for the band jacket, and discovered that there was only one (ONE!) left in all of Manhattan, in a size 12.
(Incidentally, for those of you still jonesing, there was a size 12, NWT, listed on eBay already this afternoon)
This was grim.
This was very, very grim.
It did not look good for me and my new most coveted item.
And then it came to me, a tiny, flickering spark of hope. Wait, I don't live in the Big Apple anymore. I live in DENVER! Patagonia capital of the central US. Land of fleeces and yoga pants. It was quite possible that the only band jacket left in this half of the US might just possibly be in Denver.
I leaped into action. I checked the site and determined that only one of our fair city's many GAP stores was carrying the Stella line. I dismissed my babysitter 15 minutes early (unheard-of!) dressed my daughter in a hurry, piled her in the car, and hauled-butt down Speer to the giant, dreaded, high-end mall. It's a Tuesday, I thought, panting slightly. How many people in Denver will really have heard the news about this particular item? How many people in Denver would even want such a thing as a band jacket for their child, much less peruse the internet for news of its whereabouts?
Curbing my enthusiams, I wandered casually into the GAP Baby store, looking around lazily as if I were only killing time. I perused the girls side, and then the boys side. Nothing. I turned the stroller around and, pacing myself carefully, re-inspected every rack (making sure not to break into a run). Not a single band jacket in sight.
Finally, ready to accept my fate, I wandered off dejectedly into the kids section. And...hey presto! My eyes lit up. Three or four small racks near the front of the room. One scant, picked-over lineup of three familiar, frogged, midnight-blue jackets.
The smallest size left was an 8...a good five years ahead of Q's current size. The manager politely made a show of checking "in back" for me, just in case. But, of course, no dice. In the end, she came clean and told me that their phone had been ringing off the hook for the last 24 hours with customers trying in vain to have them put on hold.
In the end, I surreptitiously removed Q's sweatshirt, rolled up the jacket sleeves, and slipped it on her. She didn't object. In fact, after an exploratory glance in the mirror, she seemed to approve. That proud little smirk she sometimes gets (oh...I look good!) crept over her lips. She danced a little happy jig in her monster shoes. It was a go.
I took the precious jacket up to the counter. It was far too expensive, but really - what choice did I have? This would certainly be my only chance. I know my tastes, and I'm pretty secure in the knowledge that, five years from now, that jacket will still look good to me. The design is beautiful, nostalgic, and quirky (after four decades, is anyone out there tired of the Sgt Pepper album cover? Anyone? I rest my case). The craftsmanship is, for retail, quite good.
And besides, the look of an oversized item of clothing on an undersized little one has a classic storybook appeal.
All self-mockery aside, I love this particular retail campaign, and I credit the recession for retail campaigns this small, targeted and creative. The ad photos were beautifully-shot by edgy (and not always PG 13) art photographer Ryan McGinley, which got me looking. And the collection itself is unique enough to be compelling. I hope the trend continues and grows. It's about time the retail clothing industry had a fire of creativity lit under its proverbial posterior.
I did not, for the record buy anything else from the Stella collection while there (I've never been a big fan of skinny pants - hate me if you want), but it DID get me in the store, which is something that hasn't happened in a long time. That's a retail campaign that hit the mark, and efficiently. And...well, I DID buy the monster feet slippers that you see in these pictures, from a separate collection. Because, I mean, frankly, she wouldn't take them off.