Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sometimes even what's familiar is strange

At the beginning of this century, I lived in London for a brief stint. Everything was so new and different to me because before that, I hadn't traveled much past my home state. I've always been interested in the hows and whys of things, and I was lucky enough to have some patient British friends who would explain things to me (like, what is a "garriage?")

I have no idea how this came about, but my friend told me that Carhartt had a store in Convent Garden's trendy shopping area. I made him repeat himself; did he really mean Carhartt? Yes, he did, and he loved their coats. I couldn't help gaping. He was a pretty hip dresser. I asked him again if he actually meant Carhartt Carhartt. I told him that the only people I knew who wore Carhartt were gun-totin' drivers of mudboggin' trucks (patois intended). Well, actually, the people I knew wore muck boots* and wanted to tip cows, but their relatives had guns and trucks. He assured me that yes, Carhartt was indeed hip there and he'd even take me to the store.

I still didn't believe him until we arrived to the brightly lit, minimalist, modern store in a district of high rent storefronts. Techno music was blasting and the clothes there didn't resemble anything Carhartt I had seen at home.

Take this woman's shirt, for example; I couldn't see anyone rocking it out on the streets of London. Women's fashions that are featured on the company's London website couldn't be more different. While some of the London Carhartt fashions are true to Carhartt's country roots, they are so in more of an ironic manner. Fifteen years ago the company couldn't get away with it, but now, perhaps it can, and does.

We left the store, and I told my friend that I finally believed him, but it still blew my mind.

*I had an odd teenagerhood in the city, seriously. I had a really varied, eclectic group of friends; half sipped merlot, spoke several languages, and created vegetarian haute cuisine from scratch; while some of the other friends swilled beer, listened to heavy metal and jumped off bridges; and then there were the Good Country People, who are referenced here.

No comments:

Post a Comment