Working in retail is a rite of passage for anyone in pursuit of a creative career. Let’s not fuck about – the hours are long, it’s a sweatshop wage and it wreaks havoc with your social life.
After spending a prison sentence working for a dodgy High Street brand, I thought my days of folding denim at 7.30am, along with being asked ‘Have you got this in black, boss?’ – were over.
But my career plans changed and part-time work was sought. I swallowed my pride and got over it quite quickly, but I knew there was no going back to the High Street; so having swapped it for its well-off cousin, I wished I did it sooner.
Most people assume there’s a degree of snobbery when it comes to luxury brands. And some would be correct in thinking so. But, underneath this pretentious and well-dressed creature lies a softly spoken, sartorially satisfied shopper.
Being a weekender in an iconic brand, I wandered around the store in amazement, marvelling at price tags reaching the upper echelons of normality.
In my store, expensive Rick Owens leather jackets are housed in the same room as revered designers like Vivienne Westwood and her disctinctly-British regalia. The clean lines of Dries Van Noten and the technical wizardry of Alexander McQueen are separated by Paul Smith and Burberry, stalwarts of mens fashion.
The quality and the expert craftmanship was obvious from first glance; avant-garde designers charge thousands of pounds for garments, comfortable in the knowledge that the wearer won’t be upstaged or embarrassed as it’s not a cheap, mass-produced item.
As I continued to look around, shoppers were handling pricey scented candles, checking out bespoke stationary and sizing up printed silk scarves.
Being a bit of a nerd, I naturally gravitated towards the bookshop and my eyes were seduced by interesting and inspirational books and journals. The products of a specialist publisher, these books were stunning coffee-table tomes. And with the price of one book reaching £30,000, it was a case of looking and not touching.
Standing around with my new colleagues, we all marvelled at a black suede shopper bag. We inspected the work, the intricate detailing. When one looked at the price tag and said: “Hmmm, £200, that’s quite cheap,” everyone nodded in approval.
Working in my previous job, things were rarely bought unless they were on sale, heavily discounted AND with staff discount! My team members laughed and said that this position would “ruin me” and that I would become a “clothes snob”. I don’t doubt that.
If you’ve got money, it’s a no-brainer: splash your cash on quality goods – it’s all part of the exclusivity of owning rare and coveted items. It’s a million miles away from the High Street. And thankfully, so am I.
♫ Heaven 17 – ‘Temptation’