Sharing a cramped space with three people has a way of binding you together, a unique sensation that I’ve never experienced with my friends that I’ve known since pre-K. My roommates seemed to have sensed some urgency that they needed to drag me out of campus for a good few hours. As of my late, I’ve frantically tried to finish some essays and sat through four exams in the span of three days.
I’m one of the lucky students with roommates who own a car on campus. By roommates, I mean double, as I’m living with a twin, both hailing from the same state as our college. This means that now and then, they have the liberty of driving back home, a luxurious privilege that I can only dream about when home is two airplane stops and an ocean away.
Lucky for me, they decided to drag me to the mall, the highest form of the state’s sartorial outlet which also happens to be an hour-drive away. I’m in much need of retail therapy, and shopping online doesn’t quell my cravings to see and feel the clothes before I buy anything.
When everything is digital, the ways that stores present themselves are becoming more important than ever. It’s one thing to scroll through pages of photoshopped clothes, but it’s a completely different phenomena to experience the unique culture of the brand. How does the store present itself? Is it decorated with rainbow stripes like a Kate Spade store? Do the salespeople carefully handle everything, including the smallest key chain as they do in luxury fashion houses, or can anyone stepping into the store try on and kick off those shining booties like it’s your own damn living room? How does the store smell like? (blindfold and lead me past an Abercrombie or a Victoria’s Secret store – one whiff of their powerful signature perfume is enough for me to scream their name).
Shopping in person is its own cultural experience, the product of the masterminds who design the clothes we see. That said, the term “retail therapy” is spot-on. Your online shopping cart will never amount to the trying on clothes and feeling its fabric. Case in point: I never knew that neoprene is also used to make diving suits. Touché.
But maybe I just wrote this because I can never bring myself to walk into a designer store when I can’t buy anything with my student budget. I’m drooling over this, this, this, and finally this bombshell of a dress. It’s going to take a long time for me to see those in my own hands.
Could online shopping replace physical shopping for you?
Snapshots from Milan: