Photo taken at the MK&G Hamburg
I have been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I wish I could say that I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do. I have. Once you let fear get possession of your soul, it does not readily yield its place to another sentiment. Then you just realize you have to fight yourself and let everything happen to you, Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final. I go back to a gin infused advice over “I am sailing” announcing the final round at Peter’s, years ago. Don’t think. And I realize I do appreciate the unknown, the feeling of jumping before looking. I learnt that through facing the fear of traveling alone. I prefer it like that now. No longer fearing freedom. For a few days. I do not fear mistakes. I do fear perfection and the fearlessness will come when I stop waiting for the right day to go up or down in my own way. I fear wasted time.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Photo via Pinterest
Little adventures and missteps in the real world
Last week I had my first experience as a seller at a “Vintage Market” in Porto. Although it felt as something completely out of my comfort zone, I thought it would be interesting and even kind of fun to meet potential local customers since most of my modest business is done online and to other continents.
Vintage and craft markets are plentiful in the new retro-cool life of Porto even if “vintage” (at least for clothing) seems to be a somewhat loosely used catch phrase for any item that has been used before and that, in the mind of most market visitors, should have a price range anywhere between €0.50 and €5.00. Maybe vintage just has a nicer, more appealing ring to the vast majority who is actually interested in secondhand bargain hunting.
Originally used to denote a year’s wine harvest, the term vintage has been adopted by the fashion world to define “a rare and authentic piece that represents the style of a particular couturier or era” (Gerval, 2008). The most common definition today is perhaps that advanced by J.E. Cornett, “most clothing considered vintage dates from the 1920s-early 1980s. Pre-1920s clothing is considered antique, while clothing newer than the mid-1980s has not reached vintage status – yet.” Even so, both Etsy and eBay classify as vintage items that are at least 20 years old thus making way to “90s vintage”. Of course, nowadays we are almost forced to agree with Pauline Weston Thomas of Fashion-Era , “there’s no doubt that whether or not an item is Vintage is in the eye of the beholder.”
The growing popularity of secondhand shopping mainly connected with consumers eco-consciousness and sustainability concerns as well as with the rise of “slow” and/or ethical fashion movements, has led to the erosion of the negative social stigma for buying secondhand while vintage has developed into a “mega trend in clothing since the last decade all over the world, leading to major fashion brands launching collections inspired by vintage pieces or luxury haute couture houses digging into their archives to revive past designs. A number of second hand stores surfing on the trends also rename their stores as vintage” ( Cervellon, 2012).
Although the labels secondhand and vintage are close to become synonymous in consumers’ minds (Cervellon, Carey, and Harms 2012), I still think it’s important to make a clear distinction between them specially if you intend to keep some kind of integrity as a seller.
The term second-hand refers to a piece of clothing which has been used before, despite the age of the clothes. Whether a second-hand cloth is vintage is determined by its age, and not the fact that it has been used (Mortara & Ironico, 2011).A second-hand good is also defined by the physical deterioration of the product, meaning that with every usage the product’s quality is reduced (Ohlwein 1990) even if it keeps it’s wearability. By comparison, vintage goods are not necessarily deteriorated or used (Cervellon, Carey, and Harms 2012).
With all this in mind I read all kinds of guides and blog posts on “making the most(and surviving) of your first market experience” and prepared all my stock identifying second-hand clothes and accessories and organized all vintage pieces by decade. I sold a grand total of four items. All of them second-hand.
All these considerations might not explain my experience at selling in the real world but have helped me to try to understand people’s motivations for visiting and shopping at vintage markets. As an avid shopper at vintage and flea markets of all sorts, I understand the thrill of the treasure hunt and the hope of finding that unique piece for a bargain. What I have failed to understand is that the majority of people visiting these markets are essentially bargain hunting and are neither interested in vintage nor can they distinguish between second-hand and vintage pieces.
Stepping out into the real world has not, overall, been a negative experience, I just misjudged my “target market” and will give it another go since, with the proper preparation, this kind of vintage market can, probably, be the perfect outlet for the second-hand pieces that I haven’t been able to sell online.
Gerval, O. (2008). Fashion: Concept to Catwalk. London, UK: Bloomsbury
Cervellon, Marie-Cécile (2012). Back from the Past: specific antecedents to consumers’ purchase of vintage fashion vs. second-hand or recycled fashion.
Cervellon, M-C, Carey, L & Harms, T 2012, ‘Something old, something used: determinants of women’s purchase of vintage fashion vs second-hand fashion‘ International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, vol 40, no. 12, pp. 956-974., http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09590551211274946
Brake, Daria (2014) Online Second-Hand Shopping. Threat or Opportunity for Branded Products?
I am a terrible decision maker. I do not like planning or strategizing or even making pro/con lists.
I find decision making excruciatingly tedious and, on top of that, I can’t read maps and even manage to get lost using gps devices. That’s how I often take the roads less traveled. I am also not good at following instructions.
Not many, if any, of these new roads are left to be metaphorically or literally explored. I suppose we all would like to be pioneers and trailblaze our own road but that is lonely and difficult path we’re seldom ready to take.
In some ways, this blog is, for me, the road less traveled, the road of self-examination as a public exercise. And, as Dr. Peck would put it “life is difficult”, being honest with yourself is not an easy task. Being honest with yourself in public can oftentimes be soul crushing as is the realization that you can’t really always get what you want.
At least two people in my life have tried to make me understand (in very obvious ways) that life is seldom what you want it to be and often what it has to be. I haven’t learnt this lesson yet. I go on insisting that there has to be more. As a traveler, I always want to take both or all the roads in front of me and start walking even if sometimes never arriving and other times taking the easy, comfortable road and not getting where I wanted to be.
The roads left are the roads not taken and these might be the ones that would make all the difference.
Robert Frost (1920)
Morgan Scott Speck (1978)
Mick Jagger / Keith Richards (1969)
I have started dressing in black in my late 20s. Before that I used to wear what I now think of as very loud and over the top colorful outfits that, in a way, were in direct contradiction with a tendency for existential nausea.
I do not remember if black was a conscious choice or it just happened that I started to resemble myself more while retreating into some kind of invisibility at the same time.
Now, dressing in black does have, sometimes, the same burden of the “perpetual mourning” for the state of the world and I identify with every single line on this song. How could I possibly wear “bright colors on my back”? Black helps me not to manifest emotions in ways that would most probably lead me to a nervous breakdown.
Not everyday does dressing in black assume this suffocating grief for “our suffering age”. In all its absence, black is full of contradictions. The color of oppression and rebellion, the color of religious Puritans and bondage fetishists, the uniform of authority and intellectual nonconformity.
In all its “poetic beauty” black allows me to write a different story everyday. This song is often part of the soundtrack.
Rebecca Willis via Feelguide
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life to the lees
This was beautifully handwritten inside a birthday card given to me by my summer course English teacher in Cheltenham the year I turned 18. These words (and the card) have stayed with me since then and I even had them embroidered on a dress. Who wouldn’t want to live like that? These words felt like the perfect “how to” to life at that time.
They were also responsible for the immense love I feel for a language which is not native to me but has always understood me better than my own.
Before these words, all the poetry in songs, from Morrison to Morrissey, the texts of disquiet, the Stranger’s paragraphs all seemed to work as companions to a growing existential hole, some sort of solace to an awkward confrontation with reality. And then these words, out of their natural context, as quotes are usually presented, showed a sunny alternative and I still tend to hold on to them as way of seeing a brighter tomorrow.
Other words, other poems, other texts have found their way to me because of their music when read aloud or because they are the words that I wished were mine and because, in a way, I still need words as a compass even when those same words make me feel overwhelmed and scared that in the midst of all the quotes living in my head I will not be able to find words that are mine. And again I borrow, from Beckett when I try and fail and vow to fail again better, from Jung while trying to take control of my own narrative, from Emerson while I try to go on being myself, from Camaron de la Isla when trying to come to terms with all the anger and honey that I too seem to carry with me.
And still none of those words have resonated as strongly as the realization that
Quote Me better late than never
photo from here
Probably my Grandmother. I miss her.
Daily prompt: My own photo, not my own voice. Still, it explains how I feel.
“For a long while I have believed – this is perhaps my version of Sir Darius Xerxes Cama’s belief in a fourth function of outsideness – that in every generation there are a few souls, call them lucky or cursed, who are simply born not belonging, who come into the world semi-detached, if you like, without strong affiliation to family or location or nation or race; that there may even be millions, billions of such souls, as many non-belongers as belongers, perhaps; that, in sum, the phenomenon may be as “natural” a manifestation of human nature as its opposite, but one that has been mostly frustrated, throughout human history, by lack of opportunity.
And not only by that: for those who value stability, who fear transience, uncertainly, change, have erected a powerful system of stigmas and taboos against rootlessness, that disruptive, anti-social force, so that we mostly conform, we pretend to be motivated by loyalties and solidarities we do not really feel, we hide our secret identities beneath the false skins of those identities which bear the belongers’ seal of approval.
But the truth leaks out in our dreams; alone in our beds (because we are all alone at night, even if we do not sleep by ourselves), we soar, we fly, we flee. And in the waking dreams our societies permit, in our myths, our arts, our songs, we celebrate the non-belongers, the different ones, the outlaws, the freaks.
What we forbid ourselves we pay good money to watch, in a playhouse or a movie theater, or to read about between the secret covers of a book. Our libraries, our palaces of entertainment tell the truth. The tramp, the assassin, the rebel, the thief, the mutant, the outcast, the delinquent, the devil, the sinner, the traveler, the gangster, the runner, the mask: if we did not recognize in them our least-fulfilled needs, we would not invent them over and over again, in every place, in every language, in every time.”
― Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet