Which, being something of an expert on malarkey, I suspect is the case. After all, there are products advertised in this publication that (should I be given one), would raise enough money to pay off my mortgage when properly pawned. Which leads me to believe that this magazine really isn't completely for the authentically moneyed, or for people who are all that sophisticated, either. Rather a lot of it is for those who are impressed by that sort of stuff, and dream of a time when they too can participate in the ostentatious consumerism flogged there.
THE Magazine strikes me as being very much a child of its time. Which by my calculation was around 2007. You might recall that was the celebrated moment when the more foolhardy among us were refinancing their vastly overvalued homes with uncapped interest-only subprime loans, then taking the acquired booty and buying the kinds of products one finds in THE Magazine. And let's face it, nobody is more susceptible to naive consumerism than the temporarily affluent. But now it is mid-2009, the house is in receivership, the golden doorknobs, platinum johns and fussy statuary are up for bids on eBay, and the banks holding the paper on these parvenu palaces of pretension are whining to Uncle Sam for big chunks of our tax money to help them stave off bankruptcy.
In other words, it truly is a time of economic crisis when Americans are no longer capable or willing to plunk down some large coin for expensive automobiles, accessories, or designer clothing. After all, the fiscal health of the world depends upon us to doing just that. And since so few of us are committed to that sort of consumer behavior these days, we truly must be in a time of economic crisis.
And this is where Steve Tobia and his Sierra Madre-based THE Magazine have boldly stepped forward. In the September edition Steve deals out a challenge to his readership. That is to save America by purchasing fashion at local boutique clothing stores. And no big box fashion, please! Here is how he lays it all out:
THE Magazine's Local Economic Stimulus Package
Imagine: If Each of the 20,000 affluent households that receive THE Magazine committed to spending just $1,000 in New Fall Fashion at LOCALLY OWNED boutiques from September 10th though October 10th - WE CAN GENERATE $20 MILLION IN SALES FOR LOCAL BOUTIQUES.
If Each Local Family brought their old clothes to these participating LOCALLY OWNED boutiques throughout the month of September and October (and) placed them in "GOODWILL Career Closet" Donation Boxes WE CAN HELP 20,000 PEOPLE WHO NEED NEW CLOTHES.
If Each Local Boutique Donated 10% new sales from September 10th through October 10th when old clothes are donated WE CAN RAISE $2 MILLION FOR THESE CHARITIES IN ONE MONTH.
The Math: 20,000 affluent households x $1,000 each in new clothes = $20 million. 10% of $20 million in gross sales = $2 million for charity in one month.
Now far be it from me to gainsay the work of Steve and what I am sure is an honorable attempt at doing something positive about the economic crisis and the effect that it has had on many living in the San Gabriel Valley. But honestly, even if I had a spare grand to spend on clothes, I'm not sure I'd even know how to wear the kind of stuff you get at a boutique. And if you did sport that kind of stuff where I work they'd assume you have to be at court that day. And not in a lawyerly capacity.
Now we here at the Maundry Compound do fill up bags with old clothes every once in a while. And usually we give them to the Vietnam Veterans of America. Who, by the way, have a very good used clothing store over in Duarte, not too far from Costco. Not exactly a boutique per se, but they do have lots of good deals, especially in children's clothing. Believe me, when you shop there your kids'll be wearing some highly unique and idiosyncratic t-shirts from places nobody has even heard of.
I suppose I could drop my stuff off at a clothing boutique. But I am going to have to warn those concerned about what exactly it is they'll be getting.
1) Wrangler blue jeans from Wal*Mart. These I buy for around $15 a pair. They're very comfortable, and last for a surprisingly long time. I have several pair now that started out as dark blue and, though repeated washings, have faded to a very appealing cornflower color.
2) Arrow shirts from Sears. I'm not sure if this qualifies as "big box fashion" or not, but I do know that most clothing boutiques do not carry Arrow shirts. And I love the things. Retro as all get out. You can't beat anything made of cotton, and Arrow has the good sense to cut their shirts long so that you can actually tuck them in deep enough to ensure they'll stay that way. And that's important for us taller gentlemen. And cool? I think so.
3) Tube socks and sneakers from Costco. You can't beat their tube socks. White with gray heels and toes, plus a generous padding for the sole that guarantees you'll glide through the day. And you just never know what kind of sneakers you'll find there. Right now I'm sporting a pair of Filas that have got to be the homeliest shoes in town. They look a little like the boots people recovering from foot surgery might wear, though not quite so large. Simply glorious.
4) Ariat work boots from The Boot Barn. Now here is the one luxury I do afford myself. They look like cowboy boots, but they don't have the high heel or pointy toe thing going on. Which are useful if you ride horses, but why would I want to pretend I do? Ariats are incredibly comfortable with heels hard enough to give you some serious attitudinal presence if you drag them across the floor properly. They usually last about 3 years, so I'm figuring I could cough up my present pair by early 2011.
I'm not sure that I qualify for THE Magazine's Local Economic Stimulus Package effort. So I'm guessing they'll need to drop that number of affluent households participating to 19,999. Which is still a pretty decent effort, I must say.
I wish them the best of luck.