Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

My Generation




One of the more intelligent and perceptive clients I once worked with gave a paper on marketing to the older consumer.

He observed that as a boy he was aware of senior citizens in his northern home town all looking rather similar. Waiting outside the pub ( those were the days when enjoyment was rationed) or chatting outside the Co-op ( no cafe culture back then). Their fashion tended toward sturdy shoes , baggy trousers, tweed jacket and waistcoat, and flat cap.
As a child he assumed that this was what you ended up wearing when you got to a certain age.
It was only after having been in marketing for a while that he revisited this assumption. And his realisation was that these chaps were simply wearing the clothes that had become them many years before. Given the period, this was probably similar to the de-mob outfit that those lucky enough to have survived to the end of 1918 were issued with.
The clothes were signifying the wearer's age by referring back to their youth. The time when they dressed up for Saturday nights, and strutted their stuff on the dance floor.
He invited his listeners to dispense with any preconceptions about what older people currently looked like, or ought to look like, and prepare for marketing to pensioners in denim jackets and Rolling Stones t -shirts. If marketers don't understand that people identify most strongly with their youthful selves they will end up making wrong assumptions and being clumsily patronising.
I think he was remarkably prescient.
Now I am of a certain age I wonder if I have become set in my ways. And in contemplating this I wonder if I have a choice of what ways to be set in.
It's true , I do seem to hark back to earlier periods in my life. I am currently growing my hair ( yes, I know I am lucky). This references student/ hippy days ( but I will forego the crushed velvet trousers and cheesecloth shirts). I am also drawn to the slightly earlier mod ethos. A bit of tailoring with a slightly fitted jacket , or a casual Harrington. Sharp shoes . A well pressed shirt. And then the career era. Suits and shirts of distinction. This isn't a big deal. But at least I am avoiding nostalgic rock and roll merchandise. Or fake vintage / post modern garb.
It means that I look for stuff when I am shopping, not really knowing what I am looking for, but having to think whether it resonates in the way I want.
And of course there doesn't seem to be a single shop that caters for me.
Where is Lord John when you need him?



Readers' corner


I have just discovered an excellent new site, The Book Depository which will ship books worldwide for free. While its discounts aren't always quite as good as Amazon, because there are no shipping costs the price often works out the same (and they give you a price comparison). It's extremely useful for books not available in the US.

You'll find The Clothes On Their Backs there, though they don't seem yet to have a pre-order facility for The Thoughtful Dresser - and my limited posting at the moment is down to my rushing to meet the end of the month deadline for delivery of the MS of that book.