The festive season is exploding, and with it, the temptation to purchase shiny things ruptures our ability to resist.
Having worked in retail for four years, I’m all too familiar with this urge. With Christmas around the corner and EYO bargains everywhere, I felt it was more important than ever to discuss the Gruen Transfer and discourage mindless consumerism for the sake of it.
Everything about the retail experiences pushes individuals into a purchase. As we enter the deliberate maze-like shopping malls, we must weave laps around the floor. Only being able to exit via the escalator which is conveniently on the opposite side of the building. Every step of the way our senses are physically bombarded by bargains and bold red window signs, screaming for our attention.
No clocks add to this sense of timelessness, encouraging further immersion into this material wonderland. Meanwhile, the harsh lights and squeaky clean floors echo every sound amplifying the bustling hub of noise. This, creates a sense of shopping hysteria that urges you to enter the quiet sanctuary of a boutique.
Safety in the beautifully crafted space, we become enticed by shiny things. Clothes are aesthetically arranged, encouraging exclusivity and pricier purchases. On the other hand, colorful piles of material suggest a bargain appealing to budget-shoppers. We trawl the racks looking for something that catches our eye, while statuesque mannequins display the latest styles and people around us select pieces in a flurry of desire.
Once we’re in the changing rooms, the moment of truth. We glance in the crystal clear mirror and suddenly seem taller, slimmer. Somehow more glamorous, chic, powerful, shiny. No, you are not imagining things, the reflection has transformed your appearance. Much like the circus reflectors that warp and distort for fun, retail mirrors are an illusion. They pair perfectly with those lights that enhance youth and dispell unforgiving shadows into oblivion. You’re glowing, radiating, sparkling just like those shiny new shoes.
Having doubts? An attentive staff sweeps in and makes a few minor adjustments. A half-tuck here an accessory there alongside copious amounts of positive enforcement and suddenly the item feels like something you never knew you desperately wanted. Don’t be fooled by her sweet smiles and chatty persona; she is being paid to do one thing, sell. The best sales assistants will make the experience seem natural. Before you have the chance to evaluate the purchase, she’s swiping your card and handing you the goodie bag along with the latest catalogue of products.
You glide out of the store bags in hand, looking and feeling incredible. But the shopping spree isn’t over. Subliminal marketing continues to influence our decisions via bulletin board advertisements and through handheld devices. During our transit, urgent ‘must have’ reminders fill our phone and infiltrate our notifications. Each personalised note is encouraging us to splurge on sales. In fact, this magical world has immersed us so thoroughly both physically and digitally, that we are blind to oxymorons like “spend and save.” It’s only a matter of time before the itch to shop starts again.
Finally, you’re home, trying on the piece in our poorly lit bedroom alongside the rest of your clothes. The item looks lackluster, clashes with the rest of our wardrobe and doesn’t sit right. The shiny magic shatters as buyers remorse sinks in. So we place it away vowing to wear it later. Your coveted attire hangs on skeletal frames collecting dust as new pieces push it further back into forgotten corners of the closet. Despite your growing collection of apparel, you profess there’s nothing to wear. Inevitably the shopping cycle continues.
I’ve been there, we all have. Now I shop smart. If I need to buy something, these are some tips that keep me in check and debt free.
Sweat-shop labour? Artisanal craftsman in Italy? Knowing more about the history can save lives and stop unnecessary spending.
Clever marketing techniques are continuously manipulating us to spend our hard-earned money. Amongst the ‘click frenzy and ‘weekend savings,’ there is a false sense of consumption urgency. This is seamlessly integrated into our lives, suggesting we must buy it now. But why the urgency? What are we buying into? How come we make purchases when we know it’s all marketing?
As we shop ourselves into a splendid stupour, I can’t help wondering what are we really missing…
What are your shopping resistant tips? How did you become more fashion conscious? Would love to hear your suggestions in the comments xx