Sunday, February 15, 2009

Target Practice

McQ for Target, the line designed by fashion's founding enfant terrible, Alexander McQueen, for the mammoth retail chain had its early New York debut today and I was there to witness the spectacle that was. Housed in a way-West Side warehouse on West St. and West Houston, the collection was put up for sale in a darkened space decorated with graffiti, chain link fences, concrete, and caution tape. Target's signature red bullseye was dressed in black for the occasion, as were the usually pepperminty red-and-white bags, logos, and peripherals. It was supposed to be dark, see? Because McQueen is edgy, see? I'll tell you what's truly dark--the behavior of a bunch of bargain-starved shoppers let loose in a room with limited edition pieces in limited numbers for a limited time.

The pre-opening crowd, about a block and a half deep.

Street-inspired art pieces set the mood.

I swear, I was within the first 100 people let into the pop-up shop and within less than ten minutes of my entrance, clothing was literally flying. It was soaring off the racks and off of the bodies of shoppers too anxious to wait for a dressing room, and just exhibitionist enough to drop top and trou to try on armfuls of hastily gathered garments. Most of the women I spoke to on the line to enter the temp-store had pre-shopped the collection using the leaked look-book photos that popped up on fashion blogs all over the Internet in the weeks prior to the event. They knew what they wanted and had their eyes focused on the prize. My plan had been to talk to people once inside the shop and see what they thought of the clothes, the space, the everything; but I should have known better. There was no talking at first, only shrieking, mumbling, and click-clack-heeled running. Women had that crazed-shopping look in their eyes. There was no stopping them. People ran (literally) from rack to rack scooping up any garment in their size and then finding a space to plop down their items and get to trying them on. Whole displays were picked clean in a matter of minutes. It was like being inside of some strange Nature Channel documentary on vultures, only with hot pink leggings and belted shirtdresses.

A railing became a makeshift fitting area.

Clothing carnage ensued. I think those tank tops jumped.

Changing room lines were barricaded and guarded by security.

Clothing was being stockpiled and picked through later in a popular grab-n-go gathering strategy.

Chain link fences became clothing racks.

Thankfully I did happen to find a couple of sweet FIT students who were smiling instead of frothing at the mouth, so I decided they were safe to talk to. They were reveling in their luck of grabbing one of the asymmetrical gray and black dresses that almost every woman waiting to enter the store told me they wanted. Shari and Erica, 18 and 19, were among the first to arrive outside the store this morning and their strategy was to grab goods and run. When I happened upon them, Erica was trying on the gray dress over her clothing and Shari was rightfully telling her how great it looked on her. They both reported that the dress was one of their favorite pieces on sale, and that some of the other garments were a little too fish-netty for their liking. Apparently the fish-net was supposed to be an ode to mermaids. Sounds like a dangerous combo if you ask me...

Erica and Shari with their finds.

In fact, seeing the collection in person made me want to retract my earlier post full of excitement for the line. While there were cool pieces available and the designs were great in theory, most of them were not worth the inflated prices McQueen's name lent to the standard Target fabrics and construction. Things felt cheap to the touch, and while prices were leagues lower than McQueen's standard charge, they weren't quite cheap enough. My cash is harder earned than ever these days and the stuff on the racks reeked of mass-production methods. Threads were peaking out of seems, leather felt rubbery, and "silky" materials were scratchily synthetic. It made me think twice about this whole high/low concept. More! Cheaper! Now! is what has largely gotten us into the troubled spot we are now in in the fashion industry. There is so much clothing, but so little of it is built to last. These are the type of garments one can expect to wear a few times before fading, button-loss, and shapelessness set in. They aren't getting handed down to the granddaughters. I know that isn't necessarily the point of these lines, but maybe it should be. Maybe if standards of quality were reset to previous levels, people would spend a tad more and waste a lot less. I love the democratizing of design that comes out of these collaborations, but I just wish that I didn't get so routinely excited by the preview photos only to be disappointed by the real deals. I say shrink the profits a bit and give the consumers garments worth their saved pennies rather than encouraging them to save pennies at the expense of quality. I love the looks, but I want to love the actual clothes too. Is that asking too much?

See the stuff for yourself when the line goes national the first week in March.

1 comment:

Sweety P said...

Great post! I would have been in the line for hours for a garment from the Alexander McQueen!