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Friday, April 30, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Imagine you are hiking alone in the hills and you suddenly come upon a baby drowning in a shallow pool of water. Without your help, the child will surely drown, but saving the child will almost certainly irreparably damage your new Nike Air Force 1s and probably your Juicy Couture yoga pants.
What do you do?
This is the question posed by Princeton professor Peter Singer in Astra Taylor's newest documentary Examined Life (2008), which draws noted living philosophers out of their cloistered towers and into the streets (or, in Michael Hardt's case, the lake) to talk about the life of the mind and the philosophical excursions that occupy it. According to Singer (and probably your own moral compass, unless of course you are a sociopath), the answer to the hypothetical question posed above requires little thought: you sacrifice your signs of conspicuous consumption and save the child. This, Gentle Reader, is elementary, and not at all Singer's real concern; it is a slow pitch ethical softball meant to prepare the ground for the following, more thorny question:
If I told you that the money you spent on those shoes and those pants could have been used by Oxfam International to save not one but all thirty of the children who die every day in Africa from treatable diarrhea contracted from unclean drinking water, would you have saved those children?
Well, would you have?
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
"In a completely sane world, madness is the only freedom." - JG Ballard
Though our blog banner suggests a deep love of interwar Russian constructivism, our hearts and minds belong to dada (and thusly to Spanish artist Dani Sanchis, whose massive oeuvre of canny mixed media collage work summons a beautiful, Gordian world in which madness is celebrated rather than treated, naturalized rather than pathologized). View more from this contemporary dadaist and philosopher of the human condition at his refreshingly spare blog, Tarda Mucho.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Oh, hai! It's our new website! HUzzaH!
Friday, April 16, 2010
After a lot of experimentation over the last year that included messy stamp pads, wasteful tissue paper and decorative salvaged buttons, I've finally decided on a packaging repertoire for the shop that meets all four of my basic needs:
1) Eco-Friendly ~ No excessive packaging or permanent branding that prevents re-use of the box and bag (Note: If anyone knows where to get biodegradable plastic apparel bags, do tell! The thought of my shipping supplies swirling about a desolate part of the Pacific Ocean for centuries keeps me up at night...for a few minutes, at least.)
2) Suitably Protective ~ Preserves items against damage resulting from rain/moisture and rough handling in transit
3) Inexpensive ~ Permits me to keep shipping and handling costs down without resort to dumpster diving
4) Professional ~ cleanly branded and consistent with that of most major retailers (who ship goods, not gifts)
Ingredients: twine (practically free, East Bay Creative ReUse), USPS Priority Mail boxes (free) or white plastic bubble mailers for smaller items (wholesale), plastic apparel bags (wholesale), shipping tape (wholesale), mini safety pins (wholesale), click 'n ship adhesive labels (wholesale), Moo hang tags (retail)
Thursday, April 15, 2010
What I Wore: Vintage 1980s navy blue pussycat bow blouse with white Swiss polka dots (thrifted); black sweater vest (thrifted); vintage mid century rhinestone scatter pins (estate finds)
I had the great pleasure of meeting Melissa of PurpleDeer Vintage earlier this week for a leisurely afternoon of caffeine-fueled thrifting in her new cross-bay home of Berkeley, CA. As I usually thrift alone, it was nice to have a like-minded soul with whom I could klatsch and to whom I could go for confirmation on what Nina Garcia would call 'my taste level.' Though we didn't get to talk much about our thrifting technique (and, yes, as with any sport, there is a technique to this game), we did seem to observe many of the same basic thrifting principles (e.g., 'hoard now, edit later'). Below are some of my own strategies for effective thrifting. Please feel free to add your own tips in the comments section.
PS: Sorry about the bad puns in the title. I'm weak.
Pictured Above: PurpleDeer demonstrates thrifting rule #1 ~ Be nice to the people who run the shops (especially if they're vested with the power to adjust prices)
Huzzah's Guide to Thrifting For Success:
Do take your garments off the hangers before getting to the register
This ensures that busy and/or merely careless cashiers don't accidentally damage your garments in their rush to keep the line moving. It also helps to mitigate the ill will of the customers who had the bad fortune of queuing behind you.
Don't reveal that you are a vintage dealer/seller
At many smaller, independent thrift shops, you may find that prices are negotiable; once the employees learn that you are a dealer, they are not. (This rule does not apply at estate sales, of course, where dealers constitute the majority of the customer base.)
Do pay careful attention to items at the ends of racks
This is where other savvy ragpickers have likely left the pieces from their haul that they ultimately decided against. Keep in mind that most thrifters are shopping for themselves and therefore often cast off otherwise amazing pieces because of fit. As a dealer, you're not limited by your girth.
Don't edit your hoard in a dark corner of the store
Find a window and preferably a flat surface on which to lay out your garments and inspect them for stains and structural integrity. Use this time, also, to consider the marked prices of the garments and whether you can turn a profit on them. If haggling is an option, determine the highest price you're willing to pay for a piece, and mentally prepare yourself to say something a bit smarmy like "What's the best price you can give me on X?"
Do include a 'sniff test' in your final edit
Moth balls and cigarette smoke will soon become the bane of your existence if you're sourcing garments that reek of these smells. Though it is possible to remove them from many fabrics, it requires additional time and effort that will eventually become unsustainable. Since your sniffer will need to be in good order for the test, avoid wearing excessive perfumes or deodorants on your thrifting expeditions.
Don't leave your haul sitting in a bag once you get home
It's tempting, after a long day at the racks, to throw your overstuffed bag of goodies into a corner until you're ready to deal with them again. (After all, you did just spend a great deal of time inspecting each and every piece.) But keep in mind that the less time your garments spend bunched up in a bag, the less time they have to wrinkle and the less steaming you'll ultimately have to do before the photoshoot. This strategy also helps to prevent the spread of any latent odors among your haul. (There's nothing worse than pulling out a forgotten bag of garments that now all smell like a pack of Marlboro Reds because of one rotten apple that escaped your attention at the store.)
Do keep in mind that you're working when you're thrifting
Have a plan of attack, and perhaps even an intended route, when you enter a shop. As a thrifter, you know that there's nothing more annoying than those shoppers who start perusing a section right next to you when you're clearly 'working' a rack. Don't be one of those erratic shoppers who bounces from shiny object to shiny object, and don't let them stop your forward momentum to paw at an item in your path. Shoot them a stern yet civil "I'm trying to work here" look and they'll usually gallop off to another reflecting pool.
Do remember to bring wet naps or hand sanitizer with you
Though I don't understand the origin of the mysterious black soot that seems to coat every hanger in every thrift store, I know that I am powerless against it.
From Lauren: Don't assume that a garment's previous owner stuck to 'dry clean only'...or didn't, as the case may be
From Mother Midnight & Empress Jade: Don't forget to check the armpits and groin areas of the garments lest you end up with some funky items in your otherwise sanitary domicile
From Robyn: Do hold garments up to the light to check for inconspicuous holes, paying special attention to garments with wild prints that might distract the eye away from such imperfections
From Paige: Do ensure that moths don't destroy your knits by subjecting the critters to two extremes, freezing and electric heat drying
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
As part of our continuing efforts to demystify the labor process--be it vintage selling or academic writing--we've decided to include for you today the raw, un-'shopped images of some of the newest items in the shop. While we don't have any fancy studio equipment (e.g., lighting kits, seamless backdrop papers) or even a big white wall uninterrupted by so much pre-war crown molding, we do have nice natural light and enough college newspaper-cultivated post-production skills to convincingly mimic these things. (And once we figure out how to make our broke-down Acme dress form look like a tall, starving, dead-behind-the-eyes teen girl with a contrived pigeon toe, our impersonation of the pros will be officially complete.)
So step on up and pull back the proverbial curtain on our humble shop floor by mousing over the images. Oh, and if you're wondering why everything is so crooked in the originals, it's because the floor in this old house has more dips than a French sandwich shop.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
This dress, I think, is a bit like a David Lynch film: weird, well-made and perhaps a bit too cerebral. If only it were my size.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
For most, The L-Word ended last year, but for me--basic cable subscriber that I am--it ended earlier this week when I finished my rented DVDs of the disappointingly truncated sixth and final season. Like most premium cable shows of any repute, it ended with a surprise death and a parade of extant past characters, presumably trotted out to remind viewers saddened by the show's end (and perhaps the season's horrifying writing) of its many dramatic zeniths. Though I won't necessarily miss the show (which had become a bit tiresome thanks primarily to the aforementioned writing and the wooden performances of Daniela Sea and Pam Grier), I will miss the refreshingly cool looks the show's stylists crafted for lez girls--most especially quirky girl Alice, power bitch Bette and dramatic femme Jenny (c. seasons 2 & 3).
Though I'm well aware of the criticism leveled at the show's producers for their narrow focus on white yuppies with the type of disposable income necessary to craft these covetable looks (as quirky and 'thrift' as Alice often looks, for example, she's clearly wearing a lot of Marc Jacob$ and Kate $pade), I'm also aware of the unenviable position the producers of this high-end lesbian soap were in; in order to capture an audience share big enough to sustain the show, they had to at once appeal to a lesbian-identified audience eager to see itself finally represented on the small screen and a straight-identified female audience unsure of its connection to the (often explicit) dyke drama. As Candace Moore notes in her formal and textual analysis of the show, the premiere episode works overtime in this respect by ensuring that the steamy lesbian pool scene (ostensibly meant for a queer audience but also very much enjoyed by straight male viewers, as it turned out) is seen through the eyes of the show's cute, cornfed straight girl, who peeks safely at the scene from behind a slatted fence. Jenny, the straight protagonist, usefully conveys to straight female viewers that they too can watch the lesbian drama unfold from a safe distance without fear of being 'turned out' (or on). By the time Jenny drops her guy for a gal at the end of season 1, straight viewers are presumably too invested to care that they no longer have a heterosexual proxy with which to explore the secret world of lesbianism.
In addition to this 'straight ally' strategy and a few clever straight-gay sex scene echos designed to de-marginalize lesbian sex, high fashion is very obviously drafted by the show's producers to help ingratiate the characters with straight female viewers, many of whom, producers rightly wagered, were Sex and the City castoffs looking for something to fill the void left by the show (hence the "Same Sex, Different City" L-Word marketing campaign). Indeed, as with SatC, all of the women of the L Word are insanely fashionable and unnervingly fit. What's more, like the insufferable women of SatC and every gay man ever depicted on American TV, they are excellent consumers of high-end goods, be it cars, coffee, cocktails, gym memberships, clothes, computers, housewares or mobile devices. These are women, the show practically yells at its straight female viewers, who you may not want to be with, but who you most certainly want to be. And they're right, really. In the end, we're all a little bit queer for the good life.
Pictured Above: A "Greatest Hits" fashion montage (and, yes, I know this is embarrassingly 'fan girlish' of me. So What. Who Cares.)
Monday, April 05, 2010
As longtime readers know, we here at Huzzah! love Kate Spade pieces (like those pictured in the KS-styled look above) but hate Kate Spade prices, so in honor of the new season we've slapped together a quirky vintage Spring look with all the charm of a KS ensemble and none of the guilt. Happy thrifting, my solvent Readers.
The Look (top L-R):
* Vintage Bombshell Polka Dot Pencil Skirt via Huzzah!
* Black Cotton and Cashmere Crewneck Cardigan via Banana Republic
* Vintage Warner Domed Rhinestone Brooch via BajunaJewelryVintage
* Vintage Yellow Ruffle Ascot Blouse via JuJuFetish
* Vintage Black and White Skinny Belt via MuffinBiscuit
* Handcrafted Rufflette Purse in Plum via TenthStreetSaks
* Vintage 1970s-does-1950s Purple Two-Tone Peeptoes via Catbooks1940s
Sunday, April 04, 2010
* vintage 1980s Anne Klein for I Magnin blouse ~ thrifted
* vintage 1960s wool suiting jacket by Richard Steven ~ estate find
* vintage 1960s black clutch ~ thrifted
* vintage 1950s heels ~ Etsy via katherinebraun
* vintage black bow tie (sourced from another top) ~ thrifted
* full skirt by Hall Huber ~ purchased at the KaDeWe in Berlin in 2007
I wore this to dinner last night after The Boy and I decided in the 11th hour to dine out. We ended up at one of my favorite neighborhood spots, Pizzaiolo, where I enjoyed two Old Fashioneds, an asparagus and ricotta salad and a wild nettle and pecorino pizza (all while listening to ESG's A South Bronx Story 2, no less!). We concluded our lovely meal with a biscotti and some employment prospect-based self-loathing. MMMMMMMM!