Revenge Is Sweet. Revenge Shopping Is A Little More Complicated.

People are shopping like nobody else’s,” surprised Sherri McMullen. As the owner of McMullen, the trendy boutique in Oakland, California, she would know. Her clients, she says, “are redoing their entire wardrobe.” Recently, she’s been hearing the advice: “”I don’t want anything in my closet”; ‘I want to redo everything’; “Everything’s too dark.” (She notes that bright colors and prints are filling the void.) “Whatever they went through last year,” she says of her clients, “they want to feel the opposite way. Again. Wearing comfortable clothes is not an important part of it.”
Can you blame them? Lockdown prompted a series of “revenge shopping,” a phenomenon that was first observed in China after the end of the quarantine and has now spread around the world reeling from the damage of the pandemic. Customers are making up for lost time, lost events, lost opportunities to splurge. Shopping, often a joyful activity, is fueled here by a kind of mania, and possibly even grief. We’re looking for things that “make us feel loved,” says Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, professor of public policy at USC and author of The Small Things Synthesis: A Aspiration Layer Theory. life back, making life fun again — and consumption is a simple way to do that.” It’s also a way to show off. McMullen says the workouts from Jacquemus and Khaite are especially good for her, perhaps spurred on by her clients’ home exercise efforts during the quarantine. When we spoke, she was in New York meeting with designers and found herself defaulting to saying: “Do you have some shorter hemlines?”
We’re all imagining ourselves as post-transformation butterflies, with brand new cabinets instead of wings. And Currid-Halkett doesn’t diminish the emotional impact of adopting a new look. People “don’t even have the natural social affirmation of walking into a restaurant and feeling attractive and alive,” she said. The spike in boom is understandable after 18 months of uncertainty and isolation. But the focus on consumption also seems to be lagging after the fashion industry’s recent move towards sustainability, minimalism and buying only what you need. Perhaps we are at a point where those higher concerns are (at least temporarily) set aside in favor of redundancy. Currid-Halkett points to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, built from the basics (food, shelter) to lofty ambitions at its peak. “Self-actualization is the last game, and a lot of us aren’t there right now,” she said. “We have more basic needs.”

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