Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gleam with Jeans or Shift to Thrift?

Ok, let's be real. My initial thought when hearing about the compact challenge was, well - screw that. I wasn't going to give up my consumption habits for a 10 week course that would probably not have a major impact on me after the final exam. So, being the sometimes stubborn person that I am, I went out that following day to Sacramento's Nordstrom Rack to pick up a pair of Rock and Republic skinny jeans for my girlfriend. Though I knew she was going to enjoy my gift to her, a sudden jolt of discomfort struck me when the register rung up $119.08. Even after brushing off an idea or lifestyle such as the compact challenge so quickly, it was difficult for me to walk out of that store not acknowledging the fact that my consumption habits do need to be reassessed. I mean, why did I need to purchase a pair of brand-name designer jeans to please my girlfriend when I could have purchased another pair of similar or equivalent quality for a fraction of the cost? At that point, it was inevitable for me to start thinking about the aspects of the compact challenge and how changing my own habits could effect both me and the economy.

In the last couple of weeks, I have coincidentally passed by an array of thrift stores in several different towns and cities while walking to another destination. In each passing, I would be reminded of this challenge and would then be reminded of the $119.08 that I uncomfortably spent. What had struck me even more was the fact that after visiting the Buffalo Exchange, a thrift store located in downtown Berkeley, and briefly skimming through the clothing selections, I realized that the quality of the clothing is just as good as any other mainstream store and the prices were substantially lower. It then helped me realize that I did not buy the pair of Rock and Republics for the quality of the product, but rather for the fact that it was seen as a highly desirable "novelty" (Kawamura). That also, a pivotal reason to why this brand of denim is such a sought after commodity that its ability to inflate their prices gives the notion that their production quality is superior (Kawamura). Simply put, I was sucked into commercialization and thought buying something of high monetary value would equate to happiness. Clearly, I thought wrong and though my girlfriend did in fact appreciate the gift, it was not necessary and now puts me in a position where I am more conscious of my personal spending.

Hugo Da Rosa
Sources: Fashion-ology by Yuniya Kawamura
Image 1: Rock and Republic Sales at

Image 2: Buffalo Exchange in Berkeley, CA from

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