We all have goals in mind when buying clothes. Some of us want to look professional, others want to fit in, many just want to be comfortable. But increasingly, people want to say something with their clothes, tell the world that they're a little different, a little more creative. A little more unique.
The ironic thing is that we keep seeing major retailers cater to this goal... they make t-shirts with nifty random sayings like "Old Navy Bowling Team" or "Happenin' Dude" spelled out in glitter. They find odd gimics from the cartoons or the 80s and produce entire lines of clothing based on rainbow bright, spongebob or the A-team. Everyone can have their own cute random shirt, everyone can be unique, everyone can be different.
Everyone can be unique, just like everyone else.
Yes people, am I on to something or what? Those stores in the mall pay a lot of money to have space there, they need to sell what's popular, and they will only sell what's popular, no matter how hard they try to make you feel like what you're getting is totally new. If you're between the ages of 11 and 25, chances are you'd really like to stamp out your own identity, prove to the world that you're here and there's something special about you. Retailers jump on needs like this, they have teams in high rises looking at you, thinking all the time about what you need and how they can get you to pay them for it. You're marketed, you're targeted, you're bought. And they profit.
And the tough part is, you aren't different than anyone else for it... they've worked hard at making you feel different so you might feel better for a while, but other people just see you as yet another kid who buys all his clothes at the mall, the same mall where every other kid shops. You are just like everyone else.
What I really cringe at are the stores that somehow get you to advertise for them in the process... not only do they mislead you into thinking it's your unique image, but they get you to pay them to show the world their logo once every ten days or so when you wear their product. Do you really want to tell the world that Abercrombie's million dollar marketing campaigns and beautiful models, half-naked on posters in the store window, is all it takes to own your soul? You're willing to align your identity, what makes you who you are, with whatever a bunch of men in suits in a high-rise decide will be cool this season?
I buy clothes at the mall sometimes. Let's face it, we all have to buy clothes somewhere. But my goal in clothing isn't to look different, it's to just have what's comfortable. There's no reason to pay more than $14.99 for a t-shirt if I just want to be comfortable.
So think about what you're doing. Do you really shop around for clothes, or do you just go straight to the mall and swallow whatever they're feeding you? Have you looked at discount stores? At thrift stores? The people I'd say who had the most personal style probably bought 80% of their clothes at thrift stores... they weren't poor, they were just sick of seeing the same crap on everyone at their school.
Know that no matter what a store is trying, no matter what image they're selling, they are selling it. Old Navy is selling an image. The Gap is selling an image. Hot Topic is definately selling an image, and doing such a good job of it that people really do think they're being "unique" by shopping there.
And stop paying stores to advertise for them! For heavens' sake, if it's got a logo on it bigger than your face, do not wear it! It's corrupting you, you're a walking tribute to commercialism and the people who bought your mind.
Then once you've done this, don't look at others and judge them by their clothes... you're just as bad as they are. By spouting on about how you hate "preps" or "punks", you're proving that you buy into those images, too... that their attempts to align their identity with a commercial has worked. See past it, you aren't better than anyone else, no matter what you wear.