I’m mentally packing my suitcase for a trip back home to the States and I realize that I’m also making a mental shopping list. Can you imagine? Living abroad creates the most significant pull to the simplest things. I must buy coffee from Stumptown and Heart Roasters (no matter that I live an hour or so to the Italian border and some of the best cappuccinos on the planet).
If I’m honest, I’m craving time at Urban Outfitters and sniffing candles in Anthropologie, in the same way I once craved the opportunity to window shop at Isabel Marant or Maje.
Why do we always want what we can’t have? I remember hording clothes from H&M during early trips to Europe, before the fabulous Swedish chain had infiltrated the Pacific Northwest of the United States. I could sell ANYTHING with H&M inside the label to resale powerhouse Buffalo Exchange back then. Today, it barely gets a glance unless it’s new or has the tags or fills the category of unused timeless basic.
If I’m honest, I barely shop at H&M anymore. I’ve moved on to their new, more mature offering at Cos. Of course, I can only get Cos online in France or I have to travel to Paris, but anything I buy there, will seem like one-of-a-kind in the US. I love having clothes that no one else does, or having the opportunity to put together outfits that are uniquely my own. I don’t have the budget for exclusive luxury brands, but I do have the lifestyle of a world-traveler and that affords me the opportunity to find things that you can’t find anywhere.
As globalization continues, I hope that brands and designers continue to pay homage to the beautiful experience of local exclusivity. I love it when I can find something in Paris, say at colette, that isn’t available anywhere else in the world. It becomes a genuine souvenir of my time in Paris. And while a photograph of a memory is cheaper, the thrill of wearing clothes that are a story of how you’ve lived your life is an experience in itself. Do I love to tell people the story if they ask where my shoes are from or how I came across a unique piece of jewelry? Sure. Absolutely. But the fun of it is that I don’t have to, to enjoy the memories.
As brands grow more global and people travel more, I think how we define exclusivity will evolve to take on a more locally significant value. The sneakerheads already know this and brands like Supreme capitalize on it. There is something wonderful about appreciating the best of a place. It’s like enjoying the seasons. I’ve never been a fan of endless summer or endless winter. I like the change, the newness, and the opportunity to miss something for a while and be grateful when it returns.
The author on the coast of Maine in a vintage romper purchased at the Rose Bowl Flea Market (Photo Kealan Schilling)