Growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania with one mall (and well before Internet shopping) made it difficult to stand apart. I did my very best to seek out places and things that were off the beaten path. In kindergarten, I still remember my favorite buckle shoes, my black velvet vest and my shiny jacket that I wore with pride because nobody else had anything like them. In second grade, none of my classmates had the same Converse sneakers as me. By the fifth grade, I used to lie to my friends about where and when I was going back to school shopping. Weird? A bit obsessive? Maybe. But, I was trying to keep my choices a secret because more than once, a girl from my class saw what I was wearing and managed to track down the same things. Bitches! LOL.
Image: By MJParadaC on flickr
This behavior only got worse as the years went by. I started "sewing" my own clothes in High School (suffice to say, I refined those skills later on!). And in recent years, I've had a lot of travel opportunities and I must confess, I get a certain sense of satisfaction in being able to answer, "I got it in London," or "I got in in Antwerp," when asked about something I'm wearing. And it's not that I'm trying to brag about my travels (they're not so vast!), it's just that that I'm secretly happy it's impossible for the person to obtain the items they're inquiring about and, therefore, I cannot be copied. But, perhaps the best response I have is, "It's mine, I'm a designer." Since it's highly unlikely that the interrogator can copy it, they might want to purchase it instead! Sold!
All of this leads me to the point of this post (finally!). While on one hand I'm happy to see some of my favorite European stores popping up in my city, I'm torn because on the other hand, I'm annoyed that other people will discover them. Snobby? Elitist? Maybe. I can't help myself!
On the list of recent imports is a shop from Paris called Metal Pointus. I used to buy some funky pieces there for myself and as gifts because they're unique and affordable. I didn't really know anything in the States quite like them. Until now. Strolling down Elizabeth Street in NoHo the other day, I happened upon a Metal Pointus shop (which just opened in June). Again, I had mixed emotions. I was excited to see it (and more excited to have the opportunity to replacie a ring I lost), but I was also kind of irritated that my ring is not going to be so special anymore since New Yorkers and tourists alike can now easily purchase the same thing.
jewelry from Metal Pointus
All Saints is another example of a European retailer crossing the pond. The London apparel chain used to be one of my favorite places to shop in Covent Garden and now, I can pick up some of their edgy casual pieces downtown. Or, if I lived in Las Vegas or even Seattle (like THAT would ever happen!). In May, the mega-brand, American Apparel purchased All Saints. I fear they're going to turn into the next Banana Republic (once the styling is watered down and the fabrics are replaced with cheaper goods).
I also got an unsettling feeling years ago when I saw Belstaff hanging in Bloomindales. "Weird," I thought. But, the sleek and expensive brand didn't last in Bloomies and apart from a few discreet boutiques in New York, Belstaff is still contained in Europe. Comptoir Des Cotonniers is a cute little label I used to pick up in Paris. Now, I don't have to go all the way to Paris, all I have to do is head downtown to Spring Street (just off West Broadway) and I'm all set. That said, I haven't purchased an item in three years.
go ahead France... eat up!
I could go on. The list of stores is extensive and I've begun to worry that all cities across the globe are going to start resembling one another... the lines blurred. I hope not. How sad would that be? Will anything remain unique? I bet the French felt the same way when McDonald's reared it's ugly head on the Champs-Élysées! Okay, maybe not (since I know a lot of French peeps who think Micky D's is "magnifique").