In honor of Black Friday, I thought I’d blog about fashion instead of travel today. But since early this morning I have seen nothing but lousy news on cnn and the internet. First the stampede and subsequent death of an employee at Wal-Mart then some shootings at a Toys-R-Us. This is not Black Friday but Blue Friday. This economic crunch we’re all feeling for ourselves and/or our neighbors is festering into a morale malaise. Add random violence on top of it and there’s no room left for the retail excitement that’s supposed to peak at this time of the year. Shopping lethargy has set in for consumers and retailers alike. So it feels hollow to talk about fashion when the national mood is so dour. Even as a self confessed shopaholic, I’ve got the blues. Retail therapy can’t fix retail blues.
What’s happening in the retail industry has definitely changed my shopping routine this year. Usually we would brave the crowds for the 5am door buster at Fry’s for the electronics deals. I’d be the one standing in line while everyone else ran around the store grabbing things on our various checklists. Once this craziness was done, I’d be on my way to Saks or NM for their sales.
But Saks, just like some of its competitors, started its sales early this year so I was already done with all of my shopping by the Monday before Thanksgiving Thursday. On the first day of the presale event (one full week before Thanksgiving Day), the store was packed. Women of all age, race, and fashion sense filled every inch of the store, grabbing designer bags, shoes and clothes as if the store was giving it all away. And in a way it was. Pretty much everything was 70% off except for a few labels like Chanel (rats!). No sooner did I put down a pair of Dior boots did two women grab them at the same time. It was a very tense moment and I didn’t stick around to see who won that wrestling match. Then I was shadowed by a twenty-something who wanted to make sure I’d give her the Gucci anaconda bag I was holding should I decide not to get it. It was an incredible deal for the bag so I could understand her persistence. After about 20 minutes I handed it to her. I don’t shop well with a pleading ball and chain. Her huge smile was the only one I got that day. Sales associates walked around dazed and confused. And scared. And pissed off. They looked like Katrina victims. After all, their store had just been flooded by women who hadn’t been able to shop in a long time, and 70% off was a heck of a way to let them loose. Shopping has lost its fun.
So I witnessed no shopping mobs today. I stayed home and got some work done. Thought I’d blog about Chanel trinkets to begin a whole series on treasured keepsakes, but the news led me to these thoughts here instead. Perhaps I had it right last year. In fact last year was the first time I was out of the country on Black Friday in many, many years. This time last year I was probably in Silk Village, just outside of Hanoi. There are factories and storefronts in this small village. Some stores are literally just small stands extending from someone’s house and others are quite fancy with similar merchandise with a huge markup. I’ll talk about the fabulous silk products I found in another blog, but today I’ll close with some pictures taken at a factory where they raise silk worms, spin the silk threads, and weave it all into fantastic rolls of fabric.
Silk worm cocoons on a twig stand:
How they look up close:
Weaving equipment. Perhaps next time they will allow me to make a little video showing how the equipment is used. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Here’s hoping next Black Friday won’t be so blue.