I spent an afternoon shopping last week with a 14, nearly 15-year-old young man who was visiting Sydney and I decided to take him to trawl Newtown, home of all the best vintage stores.
He is tall and slim and studying dance, and it was interesting to watch him shop in a completely genderless way, grabbing jeans and jackets and skirts and bags because he loved the colour or the cut, not because they were designed specifically for a male or female.
It didn’t matter in the least to him.
It was funny how closely aligned we were to the fashion we were looking at, and when we got to the super cool sneaker store, we were almost fighting over the same pair, except he decided to go with the high tops, and I decided I didn’t really want to wear a Jordan logo at my age.
It also occurred to me, for the 10 millionth time, that all clothes look good on a skinny 14-year-old boy, something we’ve accused designers of thinking for years.
But I could still rock a designer sneaker, so while my friend went with fluoro orange, I chose a more classic tan and beige leather Nike.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and all the sales assistants got involved helping us with our purchases, reminding me how it is to shop retail rather than scroll through your iPad in bed, buying things you probably won’t even like.
It also reiterated to me, once again, that the gender construct in fashion, and throughout history, was so restrictive and so unnecessary, especially when you now see what fun the younger generation are having with clothes, mixing vintage with High Street, with designer, and with clothes, fabrics and prints that reflect their specific cultures and ethnicities, throwing it all together in different ways.
It’s quite joyous and it’s a big step forward in terms of waste, seeing all these new boutiques selling old clothes in airy, spacious, and well-designed environments, like Swop.
Darn it! He got the handbag
But no one treated us like it was grandma taking her grandson shopping. It was more like, “Hey, guys, welcome. What have we got in store for you both today?” and watching us fight to the death over a vintage Dior handbag (well we think it was, or if not, then the world’s best fake).
The fashion system runs on micro-trends now rather than seasonal trends, which on one hand can be onerous and literally just too much stuff being thrown at you. But on the other it also, happily, means that can wear whatever you like.
At one point, my young friend had on a pair of skin-tight banana yellow jeans which we decided he needed to snap up, then it was a pair of lilac oversized baggy pants and a multi-coloured striped wide palazzo pant.
He bought more than I did because I was still reeling from the cost of the sneakers, but I have to say shopping with a teenager is probably the best tonic I can imagine after two years of sweats.
I’m still annoyed he beat me to the handbag.