High Fashion in Low Times

The New York Times gave a nod to sensible cheap chic this week, with a lengthy piece touting second hand haute couture describing shoppers "spelunking for treasures at the Goodwill store on West 25th Street." It was a fun and informative story, and a charming respite from the now chillingly familiar sagas of home foreclosures and families having to chose between medicine and food.  The Times wrote:

 

   "The 5,500-square-foot thrift outlet is a laboratory of sorts for Goodwill and its 2,200 stores around the country. Intent on sprucing up an image that conjures low-end castoffs and no-frills ambience, many Goodwill stores are courting the shoppers who scour high-end resale shops and department store sales racks for bargains."

 

  The especially good news here is that the recycling of high quality merchandize--in this case thoughtfully crafted clothing--has suddenly become not only acceptable but cool.  What a wonderful alternative to the trend toward "disposable" clothing--the cheaply made "shabby chic" we've endured for too long at H&M and its ilk.  What cartoon superstar Homer Simpson calls "fallapart" is precisely what American consumers have come to expect from too many of our purchases.  How wonderful that today's "recessionistas" are fighting back by flocking to low cost, high quality "kindly used" garments--that they may even pass down to their kids!        

Presented by

Ellen Ruppel Shell is the co-director of the Graduate Program in Science Journalism at Boston University. She is the author of Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Technology

From This Author

Just In