Dumb Ads

I don't pay much attention to advertisements most of the time, but two have been driving me nuts lately.

One of them, a Starbucks billboard I pass every day on the way to work, announces the arrival of the orange creme frapuccino just in time for summer. "Orange creme-tacular," the ad proclaims. Now, that in itself isn't so annoying, but whoever designed the ad typeset the phrase so it looks something like this:

orange creme-

Now, I don't know about you, but for me, my eye is immediately drawn to the quasi-word on the bottom and I think to myself, what is that? Did the advertisers invent their own adjective? "Tacular": (adj.) resembling a taco, derived from the name for a popular Mexican food. This isn't clever; it's just confusing. Every time I pass it, my thoughts jump to Mexican food, not coffee.

The other ad that's made me scratch my head in befuddlement is a commercial for a credit union. In it, two women are travelling in an Asian country. One woman stops at an ATM and insists to her friend that her credit union card will work anywhere in the world. When she gets cash, she fans it out and waves it in her friend's face, saying "See? I got money!" right before they get in a cab. This commercial confuses me because it flouts common sense. It's ridiculously stupid to wave your wad of bills around right in front of an ATM no matter where you are, but especially stupid and dangerous when you're a conspicuous tourist.

Camper Shoes

"Cute!" my supervisor and fellow shoe freak exclaimed when I wore my new Kitsons to work. "They remind me of Campers."

"They're just like Campers," one of my friends said when she saw the Kitsons.

Intrigued, I asked them both about Campers and was told they were known for doing mismatched shoes, just like the Kitson peppers canvas slip-ons I loved so much. I did some browsing, ahem, I mean research online, and came across a rather romanticized history of Camper shoes on their official website, recounting the trials and tribulations of a long line of Majorcan shoemakers and craftsmen going back to 1877, and the obstacles they encountered in realizing the dream of Camper shoes in 1975. Camper shoes are known for their quality craftsmanship and high level of comfort: expect beautiful leathers, cushioned footbeds, plenty of arch support, and an excellent fit.

Because the official website (www.camper.com) took so long to load on my computer, I decided to peruse the line on www.zappos.com instead and was both surprised and disappointed. The shoe prices hovered around the $150 US mark and the styles included many chic but basic options. The Twins line with its mismatched shoes interested me most. "They are twins that are not equal but complementary. The pairs concept never made more sense," Zappos proclaims; how true! Judging from the pictures and the glowing customer reviews, the shoes are of very good quality and quite comfortable to wear. My favourite of the bunch is the pair of cream-coloured shoes that look like they're wearing sunglasses when you stand with your feet together. When you stand with your feet apart, they just look sleek and pretty, especially with the cutouts on the sides.

However, after hearing so much about them, I was expecting the sort of aesthetic wow factor I get from Kitson. All of the mismatched Kitson slip-ons have details on every inch of the shoe that make them appealing from every angle. On the heels of my peppers shoes, for instance, one shoe says "Spicy" while the other one says "Hottie." The pink-and-black pair bedecked with playing cards and rhinestones as diamonds says "Luck be a lady" on the sides. Also, Kitson uses bright colours in their designs that increase the fun, upbeat vibe of their shoes. I guess I was expecting more fun from the Campers, which seem almost serious by comparison.

Anyways, I'll post some pics of the Camper shoes I really liked and you can be the judge of whether or not they eclipse Kitson sneakers. What do you think?


Muppet Fun

In an effort to cheer me up after my rather painful break-up, friends have been sending me links to Internet gems guaranteed to bring a smile to my face.

I was grinning like an idiot throughout this video:


REM and furry happy monsters...a winning combination. Don't you just want to give those monsters a hug? I sure do.

Another friend sent me a link to a video that wasn't quite as upbeat but still very funny:


Awww poor Kermit...don't you just want to give him a hug (and maybe cart him off to detox)? I sure do.

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

I don't know what prompted me to remember that book...it's been ages since I've read anything by Madeleine l'Engle. Nonetheless the title of her masterwork perfectly describes how my world has turned upside-down in the last few weeks, so much so that I'm in no mood to blog about fashion and pop culture at the moment. For one thing (in case you couldn't tell from the sappy poem and quotes I posted in my last couple of entries), my boyfriend of over a year and a half and I broke up; the long-distance thing was getting to be a bit too much. Granted, break-ups still suck no matter how logical the basis for them so I've been pretty down lately. I started a new job by returning to a software company I'd previously worked at for eight months. As of yet this job is temporary and will last about five months. Oh, and on top of everything else, I just graduated from university. So yeah...a lot of changes in the air.

La Diferencia

I wish the difference between
te amo and te quiero
was still theoretical,
not a reality--

because now my heart dwells in the abyss
between the two, hesitant as
a finger hovering over the wrong chord,
fearful of how the dissonance
will ripple through the air
and echo in me
for months to come.

Quoted: Heartbreak

And surely I could give him - a sort of contentment?

That isn't enough to give. Not for the giver. [...]

I love you, I love you, I love you.

- Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

I want what I love to stay alive
and you I loved and I sang above all things,
so go on blooming, beflowered,

so you may reach all that my love commands,
so that my shadow may saunter through your hair,
so that all may know the reason for my song.

- Pablo Neruda, Love Sonnet LXXIX

Kitson Sneakers

Last week while browsing through the Victoria's Secret website, I came across what I considered to be the most perfect pair of canvas slip-on sneakers ever. Forget Vans. The Kitson sneakers were witty, fun, and cute. The more I looked at them, the more levels I found to appreciate them on. The sneakers were not perfect mirror images of each other like almost every other pair of shoes in the world, but rather complemented each other in their red trim and beige background while looking totally different. One shoe had sequined palm trees and the word "kitson" on it while the other said "LA hotter than caliente." As the girlfriend of a wonderful Mexican guy, I loved how the shoe had a message in Spanglish, and as an English major, I loved the internal imperfect rhyme in that wonderful left-shoe line. I vowed to myself that come Victoria Day, I would drive across the border with friends and make a pilgrimage to Victoria's Secret, just to find my perfect sneakers.

Well, serendipity works in strange ways, and I actually ended up finding them at Joneve Shoes while shopping along South Granville with my friend Jordana. I still remember that wonderful moment when my eye roved over the display shelves, landed on the Kitson sign, and just to the right of that, there it was--the right shoe put out for display purposes. After trying them on in 6 and finding that they were too tight across the front of my foot, I settled on 6.5 and walked out of that store a happy camper.

Kitson is not a well-known brand in Vancouver, and by well-known I mean Lululemon/TNA-esque proportions. When I looked up Kitson with a quick Google search later on, I found out from www.shopkitson.com that Kitson is a hip streetwear and lifestyle boutique in LA that has been operating for about 6 years already. It's apparently frequented by celebrities and It girls, and has its own line of clothing as well as footwear. I've never seen any other girl wear Kitson sneakers while out and about, and up until a week ago I had no idea it existed, so the sneakers totally felt like my own cool-girl, trendsetter discovery (I am such a dork, I know). I felt even cooler after talking with the store manager as we returned to Joneve so Jordana could purchase a Guess wallet that she had been contemplating.

Me: You should display both shoes in your merchandising. Half the appeal in those shoes is the way they're completely different.
Manager: I know! You know, I didn't even know they were completely different until you bought them, and the girl came to the back and showed them to me and said, "Did you know these are completely different?" Now I'm definitely going to have to find a way of displaying them both.

Imagine being the manager of a shoe store and not knowing your own merchandise! To be fair, shoe stores have high seasonal turnover and salespeople can't be expected to know everything, but you'd think they would know if a pair of shoes had completely different left and right shoes. Hey, if I work in a toy store and I'm expected to know where something is made, whether the plastic contains PVC, and how to install an adjustable cupholder on a stroller, they should know their shoes.

But I digress. Below are some pics of Kitson's non-matching canvas slip-ons, including a pic of the ones I got, so you can admire the wit and detail of these shoes. Enjoy!


Invest in a GIC, not your wardrobe

Craving some light reading, I picked up a paperback copy of Sophie Kinsella's Confessions of a Shopaholic and was pleasantly surprised. Because I'm an English lit major and my undergrad sometimes involved over-intellectualizing books I love on an emotional and aesthetic level, I like to pretend that I'm above chick-lit and try my best to resist pink bookcovers, but in reality I love fluffy paperbacks, and the trials and tribulations of Becky Bloomwood--an underpaid financial journalist living in London, a committed shopaholic, and in deep, scary we're-talking-up-to-her-eyeballs debt--are nothing if not fluffy. The ironic juxtaposition of her public face as a financial guru who seems to have her act together and her crazy spending habits is what really works and drives the novel's plot. Kinsella's character development of Becky's main love interest, entrepreneur Luke Brandon, seems peripheral and one-dimensional at best (although it seems to pick up in the Shopaholic sequels). Descriptions of him as tall, dark, handsome, rich, and inscrutable, and the plot arc whereby the romantic leads clash heads and fall in love once they realize how decent the other person is, seem to borrow a page from Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters. But there I go again, over-intellectualizing chick-lit like I did with The Hills!

One of the things that really amused me about Becky was how every time she bought an expensive item, she would justify it by desperately declaring something along the lines of, "I have to have it. I will use it all the time. It will be an investment." This attitude is something I see a lot of on a Facebook group I joined devoted to shopaholics. Among this group's members, there is a certain virulent elitism running through the discussion board's topic posts. Comments along these lines are common: "I wouldn't be caught dead in Payless or American Eagle because they sell cheap stuff," "I only wear brand names," and "I would spend $1,900 on a leather bag because if I take good care of it, it'll last forever."

Um, sure. Aside from the fact that I'm a pretty frugal shopper most of the time and am somewhat dismayed by the prices quoted, I don't even know where to begin deconstructing this sort of faulty logic. If you want to spend that much on an accessory or an item of clothing and you obtained your money through legal means, go for it. A good pair of jeans that can be worn over and over and survive many washings while still retaining their shape for years is worth spending a bit more on (especially since they seem to be the Holy Grail of shoppers everywhere these days).

At the same time, though, I think that people have to realize that even if the item they bought is intended to last forever, their personal taste and the fashion industry can be quite fickle. You might get sick of your handbag from two years ago and just let it sit in your closet gathering dust. Even purportedly classic items like coats, trousers, jeans, shorts, and skirts change in terms of silhouette or length or hemline from season to season. When everyone else is sporting a new trend, or a revamped version of something old, a lot of people tend to relegate their classic investment pieces to the back of the wardrobe, and go shopping for what's fresh.

Indeed, trends change so quickly that fast fashion has become the norm. Megachains like Zara, Aldo, Payless, and H&M have become experts at knocking off the latest runway designs and making more affordable versions, feeding an ever-growing consumer base demanding the latest (disposable) trends but not willing to spend top dollar on them. I remember reading a piece in the Globe and Mail style section once about the rise of fast fashion; the writer interviewed a fashionable Toronto woman in a tiny apartment who would own about 15-20 items of moderately priced super-trendy clothing at any one time and wear them to shreds, then buy a whole new wardobe the next season. This behaviour on the part of consumers and the fashion industry is antithetical to the invest-in-quality-and-designers approach.

Another puzzle regarding the irrationality of investment dressing (along the lines of the posters on this Facebook group) is that they don't factor in one glaring consideration: LIFE HAPPENS. Suede gets wet in unexpected rainshowers. Blue ink marks can appear on a beloved white sweater by accident. Purses get stolen in crowded bars and nightclubs. When you buy a pricey item, despite your best intentions to take good care of it, you're not clairvoyant, and you can't predict what might happen if your pencil-thin stiletto heel has a bad encounter with a sewer grate.

So, in the end, I guess what matters most is buying what you love and what flatters you, and buying for good design rather than the designer's name. If this approach to shopping ends up saving money, then by all means do something sensible with it (maybe something involving a bank and an interest rate?).
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