Sunday, 18 October 2009

On my soapbox...(but not one of those designer ones)

I took ds2 today to one of those factory outlet centres about 20 minutes away from where we live. His boots are - well - no longer footwear really, the insoles aren't in, the outers aren't really out and they wouldn't even make good slippers. So I promised him we could go, just me and him, to buy a new pair at the Clarks outlet shop.

What do you make of these sorts of places?

My heart sunk as soon as we arrived.

Maybe it's just me, but I find these places really unsettling...on the stomach. People walking around with their little designer paper bags with string handles to show off which designer outlet they've just been to; shops that are more interested in fancy lettering and strange lighting than actually stocking anything; shops that just sell sunglasses, or white things, or suitcases, and prices that are just way OTT. Seeing customers contemplating whether to spend that 80 quid on a Jimmy Choo handbag , or 100 quid on a mac in Helly Hansen (these are DISCOUNTED prices remember!)...ooh it made my stomach turn. There were kids dressed up, identical little models of their consumer parents - designer outfits, handbags, shoes - with their little designer paper bags urgghh!

Maybe it's just a person's attitude towards money, the income they're used to, the pressure to keep up with the Jones's, or their family's relationship towards money when they were a kid. But me...well, I'm sure that even if I had the money to spend on an expensive handbag/pair of shoes/coat/white plate/cushion cover/pair of sunglasses, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. It would be be too obscene. Obscene, yes that's the word. It's not that I don't spend money on things when money really needs to be spent, but I really can't - couldn't - even contemplate spending so much money on - what? A pair of socks with a designer label? A floral teacosy? I just don't get it.

When I was pregnant with ds1 I went to stay with my sister to buy things for the baby. I was chuffed to little meatballs when I bought a silver cross pram with carrycot in a charity shop for £20. It had already been used for 3 children by the woman who donated it. My sister and I took it back to her bedsit, carried it up the stairs and between us we wiped it down and polished it. It lasted for another 2 children of mine, until I was given a lightweight buggy and passed the silver cross pram on to another family. Later when I had my second child I had friends who spent vast amounts of money (e.g. 50 quid on a changing bag!) on their baby. I'm not criticising these people...they have a right to spend their money on whatever they's just when you've seen people who have nothing (I've travelled and I've seen people offer the only food in their house to me, a wealthy westerner, because I'm their guest), well...

So. A good thing came out of today. No, we didn't find any boots for ds2. BUT I was remindedthat although I'm bombarded with consumerist messages, and although I occasionally sucumb, splash out, blow some cash, spoil the kids etc, I remain a relatively sane human in an insane world.

And having watched the 3 Matrix films this week, I do wonder about how real this world


Carol said...

If you think Bicester outlets are should try New York! It just blows me away...the shops, the stuff, the waste. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my lovely sister living here!

Mind you I did once manage to get a 200 quid dress for 15 in one of those fancy shops at the outlets
:)(needed it for a family wedding!) Never did too well any other time so thought I'd leave it to the Japanese tourists - why are there so many?

Big mamma frog said...

You're in New York??!! Wow! Sounds fab.

Carolyn said...

Yes, a totally insane world. That is why, desperate as I am, I am struggling to go to Marks and Spencers for bras!!!! Yes, I really am THAT pathetic!!!! Here Carolyn kicks the dog for chewing up her last two that actually fitted. from an embarrassing fiiting session last December!!!!

Big mamma frog said...

yeah, I've resigned myself to those ill-fitting and throttling (but cheap) ones from Primark. Except that the last one nearly maimed me when the underwire projected itself into my armpit after just 4 days of wearing it. Everyone must think I'm weird that I keep on's hard to admit that your ribs are being tortured by your own bra.

I think you're very brave to go to a fitting session at M& S. I mean, that's even worse than going to a hairdresser!! I went once, but chickened out because the fitter was a complete dragon. I am in awe that you must be such a grown up