I moved to America slightly before internet shopping was as ubiquitous as it is today, and therefore had to bid farewell to many of the shops I knew from back home. High street shops like Topshop and H&M had only a couple of outposts in the states, and ASOS wasn’t shipping internationally yet. Faced with shops I wasn’t familiar with, I kind of needed to learn how to shop again as an adult.
Another hurdle to this shopping challenge was that I didn’t initially move to a big city. I did end up moving to New York later, but during my on-and-off visits and initial year stateside, I was in a small city in the mid-south. That’s both a shopping and a culture shock.
This sounds dated now, but this was a time when department stores reigned supreme in the States. I was used to a high street with shops like Mango, Oasis, Coast, and Whistles on one side then Primark, Dorothy Perkins, New Look and Accessorize on the other. Department stores like Marks and Spencers, Debenhams, or Fenwicks were where your mum shopped. Harrods and Harvey Nichols were where your rich mum shopped. While there were some high street-type shops like American Apparel, Express, Madewell, bebe, or Banana Republic, and shoe shops like Nine West, so much shopping and brand knowledge came from Macy’s, Nordstrom, or Dillards.
Remember, this was a good few years ago before Madewell existed and Free People was as easy to find. Also, the location I was in also played a huge role in the new norms of how and where people shopped.
Many Americans just assumed that if it exists here, it exists everywhere. What do you mean, you’ve never been to Target before? How is Victoria’s Secret a novelty to you? No, that coin is worth 5c and that one is worth 10c, how adorable you aren’t used to the money.
I think I might have to make this a series, because the more I’m thinking about it there were many parts to this education. I want to do them justice and not end up with a long rambling post. Of course, I had to relearn everything I learned in the South when I moved to NYC, and then again when I moved to LA.
Then there’s the challenge of adjusting your shopping and fashion choices as you age. Ugh. No wonder I decided to quit buying stuff this year.