Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by jetLab, Aug 29, 2002.
Wal-Mart sells $25 billion worth of clothing each year.
Where'd you get that figure from? That's $75 per person if everyone in North America (350 million estimate) bought clothes from Wal-Mart..
I didn't buy any, so some joker spent $150.
I'm guessing at least 90% of that $25 billion is spent by people living in the "red" states.
One should not underestimate Walmart's influence in this country - both culturally and economically. To wit: Sam Walton made so much money, that each of his five heirs is among the 10 richest people in the country.
I got it from the New York Times article. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/27/fashion/27DRES.html Unabashed Wal-Mart Shopper Speaks By CATHY HORYN 'm almost embarrassed to admit I buy my clothes at Wal-Mart. Not because of the radioactive scorn attached to the company, the world's largest "” 2,600 stores, $219 billion a year in revenue, slayer of mom-and-pop operations everywhere "” or even because, golly, Ned, it looks as if I won't make the International Best-Dressed List now. I'm embarrassed because such an admission sounds like fashion editor jive. Every week, about half the population of this country goes to Wal-Mart. That's about 100 million people. A fashion designer who thinks he has made it because he has a corner at Bergdorf Goodman, who enjoys the esteem of a few New York editors and socialites, wouldn't even graze the consciousness of a Wal-Mart shopper. Wal-Mart is too big for such an earnest accomplishment. "Wal-Mart makes you insane," said a visitor at one of a dozen Web sites that explore and condemn the behemoth's "everyday low price" aesthetic. Yet, insane or not, more people buy their clothes at Wal-Mart than at any store in the world "” about $25 billion in clothes and accessories. I started shopping at Wal-Mart six years ago, when I lived in Washington and would drive out beyond the Beltway to Virginia, where a couple of Wal-Marts were planted along the freeway. I didn't believe then, and I do not believe now, that I was encountering an "evil empire" (to quote from another Web site) but rather a profoundly Southern institution, with all its foibles, mannerisms and aromas. Wal-Mart smelled to me of the South, or what I remembered of the South from the years when I lived in the Tidewater. Cigarettes and roasted peanuts and aftershave. "I don't believe a big showy lifestyle is appropriate for anywhere," is how the store's founder, Sam Walton, once summed up its atmosphere. That was another thing that struck me. Here I was, in Washington and later New York, writing about a world of people, designers and celebrities who were constantly knocking themselves out to get attention. And Wal-Mart wasn't trying to impress anybody. It didn't care about any of that old business. The first hint I had that Wal-Mart was actually on to fashion, and absorbing what was happening on the runways, was a pair of black nylon sandals I bought in 1997. I found them in Asheville, N.C., on the way to pick up my son at summer camp. They had big silver O-rings on the sides, Velcro closures and corrugated rubber soles. Two years later, I had them on in Paris, at a Balenciaga show. "Are those Gucci?" Allen Questrom, who was then the chief executive officer of Barneys, asked me. "No, Wal-Mart." I smiled. "Nine ninety-nine." Then one day in the fall of 2001, I was at 550 Seventh Avenue, visiting a big-name American designer. He looked me up and down: the black Prada motorcycle boots, the pleated miniskirt, the moss-green fleece top embroidered with tiny flowers and edged with white blanket stitching. His eyes stopped on the top. "Is that Marc Jacobs?" he said. "No, it's Wal-Mart." I found the $13 fleece top at my local Wal-Mart, in Fishkill, N.Y., and like everything I've bought there "” peasant blouses, Western-style shirts in floral prints with pearlized snaps, all my summer shorts and an orange tank top emblazoned with a sequined pineapple (a bit of a miss but ChloÃ-like, don't you think?) "” the garment had no famous brand name. Two of the biggest women's brands at Wal-Mart are Faded Glory and No Boundaries, a junior label, which the company started about seven years ago, said Barbara Bakalic, the brand's manager at Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. It's this label that I now look for on my weekly scavenger hunts through Wal-Mart. I say that because no Wal-Mart store is really set up for a sophisticated fashion shopper. It does not promote clothes under the E-Z rubric of cheap chic, the way Target or Kohl's does. Nor does Wal-Mart abound in knowledgeable sales help or even many mirrors to see how things might look. You have to work to find something great amid the stretch pants and bloated sweaters "” and in a way, of course, that's part of the reward, the game. Last week, in Fishkill, when I had almost given up and was ready to slink out with my shampoo, I found a brown No Boundaries stretch top with a ruffle drizzling down the V-neck and a pair of jeans. The pants, made of two-inch-wide strips of washed corduroy, denim and a blue lace print, looked vintage. And, plainly, like those of Dolce & Gabbana or Marni. The cost was $17.98; the shirt, nine bucks more. I wore the outfit with a pair of Celine platforms, which at $420 would seem to explode the whole thing. But all right. Last Thursday, at the Kingston, N.Y., Wal-Mart, I found a red corduroy shirt bearing the new Olsen label, Mary-Kate and Ashley. The shirt was left fashionably unfinished at the hem, and it cost $14.98. Back in the game. "People are cross-shopping," Celia Clancy, a senior vice president for women and children's apparel at Wal-Mart, told me last Thursday in a conference call from Bentonville, joined by Ms. Bakalic and Claire Watts, a senior vice president for product development. They're going to DKNY and Old Navy and stores like Barneys, Ms. Clancy said. "But our primary customer is not you or me," she went on. "It's the guts of this country." This struck me, and maybe you, as a prim slap, a reminder that what matters in New York is not necessarily what matters to the rest of the country. Yet if Bentonville is not Paris, neither is it shut off from what's happening. In recent years, many of Wal-Mart's suppliers have moved into the area to respond more keenly to the retailer, and Ms. Clancy and Ms. Watts make regular trips to Europe to check out stores and PremiÃ¨re Vision, the fabric fair in Paris, for the latest trends. It's no accident that Wal-Mart concisely addresses the fall looks "” low-rise pants, denim dresses with lace-up necklines, those bohemian touches of patchwork. In the last five years, the company has made a concerted effort to offer more fashion, at the lowest price and has given special attention to fit. Every garment that Wal-Mart sells is sent to Bentonville to be fitted by technicians, Ms. Watts said. This month, Consumer Reports named Wal-Mart Faded Glory jeans the best-fitting denim brand on the market. But as the conversation returned to fashion and the fact that Wal-Mart, in its own quirky way, seemed to be in sync with what the magazines are showing for fall, Ms. Clancy hastily interjected, "We're not going upscale." She praised Target and Kohl's for their creative marketing but said, "We're trying to do what we do at Wal-Mart better." Referring to my comment about jumbled merchandise and a dearth of mirrors, she added, "We know that our presentation is an opportunity, as we say in Bentonville, and we're working on that." I don't want Wal-Mart to change, though it ought to be more socially responsive to growing concerns about child labor in the countries where many of its products, including apparel, are made. But there are enough companies scampering after the upscale consumer "” and without Wal-Mart's finesse or understanding of just how big this country is. Frankly, I don't put much store in the fact that I find cool things at Wal-Mart. I have the means and the access through my travels to buy whatever pleases me. That's the source of my regard for Wal-Mart. It knows this. And it doesn't care what I think.
I've never been to a Wal-mart. Judging by the article their clothes philosophy sounds a lot like H&M, a Swedish company littered across any and all towns in Sweden. (They've also expanded outside Sweden.) Basically, they rip off what can be copied and sell it dirt cheap. In their defence they also do design some stuff on their own.
Anyhow, some stuff in budget stores actually are spectacular value for money. I'm a tailor originally so I can detect quality and I have bought some very good stuff from H&M and similar stores.
While we're on the subject of budget shopping, I know that vintage couture/designer wear has been gaining in popularity over the last few years. What about "regular" second hand shopping? Do you venture into goodwill type stores? Have you found some remarkable steals at those places, unearthed gems?
I know I don't pass up an opportunity to rifle through the racks at any such store. My most treasured finds are: a virtually indestructable Harris tweed sports jacket ($ 2.50) and a navy blue late 60's formal coat which looks like it was tailormade for me ($ 25). (People have actually asked me if the coat is a Gucci; it's an absolutely timeless, fitted style flawlessly executed.)
I like thrift stores. The problem with them is that you have to rummage for hours through bins in rather unappetizing environments, and often turn up nothing. Here in L.A., places like American Rag give you the best of their "edits". However, you end up paying somewhat steep premiums for the work they've done.
Is the Jet Rag Sunday $1 sale worth going to, or is it an example of rummaging for hours in an unappetizing environment with little to show for it at the end?
Like I said, I'm a big fan of neither Jet Rag nor Wasteland. Some L.A. stores are simply overhyped. Having said that, if you are a diehard vintage fiend, you may like it.
Final caveat: Generally, you get what you pay for. Often (and if you participate on this forum, probably very often) you pay too much. The opposite is a true rarity.
I've been to Wal-Mart. Even bought clothes there. Before I left Durham, NC, and Atlanta, I bought several bags of v-neck cotton undershirts from them... (The Fruit of the Loom ones cost in quantities of three less than what 2xist ones cost singly, and frankly the 2xist ones aren't any better after a washing.)
It was an interesting article, and I have to say my second thought was "H&M", too. ("Ha-und-Em", as they say in German-speaking lands, or "Hennes" as they call it in the UK. What do Swedes call it? Or, for that matter, New Yorkers?) And they've expanded such that there are now just about as many H&Ms as Benettons in most of Europe. My first thought? People are incorrectly assuming that Wal-Mart is just in N. America. That figure is worldwide. People in Brazil and Venezuela and even in Europe (they own the Spar supermarket chain, in addition to having a few Wal-Marts in Germany and the UK) shop at Wal-Mart.
I like shopping, and I don't mind terribly wading through wads of dross in order to find something interesting. I don't like the idea of used shirts so much, but jackets, overcoats, etc., why not? My best thrift-store buys have been a cashmere blazer (30 euro), a navy linen suit (22 euro), and a vintage Burberry trenchcoat (US$5). I don't tend to find trousers, because the inside legs are always too short. Peace, JG
Yeah, cheap is cheap. But at $14.98, you can wear it once and throw it away if it fools people Last season, I bought a safari jacket from Urban Outfitters for $40 - not only was it cheap, it was extremely cost effective as I *knew* I would only wear it once or twice, and there's no way in hell I'm paying hundreds of dollars for something that's worn infrequently. I really don't mind paying alot for something I'll wear frequently (jeans, overcoat, a good sweater, etc.) but I've learned to deal with impulse/clubby items very well
Absolutely. I've found some amazing designer pieces in fine condition, about which the folks at the thrift shops had not a clue. I've had too many such finds to list them. I pick up items for my fiancÃe, too.
I find such "treasure hunting" to be more fun than at canny vintage places where the prices reflect their deep pride in the merchandise. Not that I haven't made the occasional purchase at shops from Wasteland to Decades Too, but nothing beats snatching up a vintage Matsuda piece for $8.
Any place in particular you would recommend in L.A.?
What, and turn you all into my competition? Seriously, my favorite place to shop is a chain called Out of the Closet, an AIDS hospice charity organization. Between the donations from individual gay fashionistas and those from designers, stores and film/tv studio wardrobe depts. who support OTC's fine work, some very cool items come in. The people who price the stuff tend to recognize only a handful of top names. Thus, they may be absurdly proud (by thrift shop pricing standards) of an Armani bridge line suit from 15 years ago that's only in marginal condition, but let a recent, mint Costume National piece go for next to nothing. The pickings are thinner there than they used to be, in part because more shoppers have discovered them, and in part because they keep expanding the number of stores, but there are still some great deals to be had on a daily basis, if you know how to look for them. All sales are final, so you need to check very careully for condition, but prices are generally so low that you haven't lost much if you missed a hole or a stain in the shop. I'll try to remember some of my best finds for Bengal Stripe's new thread on that subject.
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