This isn’t a new series, just a question I might post on occasion – asking what do you think about something. A few weeks ago I got into a bit of a lengthy discussion with friends regarding some of the pros and mostly cons of Anthropologie. I know, right what’s the big deal about this chain? Well, lot’s – some details of which I cannot get into right here and now about how the board of directors of the company is advising and negatively effecting certain companies I respect(ed) taking them from small handmade influences to machine made factories of tchotchkes. It’s just how the world is today. Every day we lose battleground in the handmade world. People walk around talking about the environment and the importance of gluten-free baked goods (latter is lost on me!) while wearing garments made in China or worse. Some magazines talk about stitching parties, profile the beautiful buckle maker in Wyoming, the crafty guy in Tulsa…but a lot more tote the company line with ten perfect outfits for Sunday brunch brought to you by the Gap.
So, Anthropologie. We have one coming to Portland. Since their sister store Urban Outfitters arrived here over a year ago I have purchased one pair of sneakers there. That’s it. When I was in my 20s I was obsessed with their stuff, same with Anthropologie. While in Boston last week I ventured into the Anthropologie’s Newbury location and recounting what my friends had said about it – that they have a reputation for stealing ideas from independent craftspeople on Etsy for instance – I looked around and touched things. The glassware, the pottery it’s mostly cheap and has no – as my friend Charlie would say – humanness. I would rather wait till I travel somewhere and invest in pieces made by local artists. The clothes are pretty expensive for what they are and look a lot better online than in person. I don’t think the interior decorators who tried to recreate an African setting in the shop – or the designers who put safari animals all over some clothes – have ever been to Africa. It was an idea of Africa, but about as accurate as a Tarzan film. The prints were nowhere near as bold or beautiful as those I saw in the DRC, Uganda, or Rwanda. …
But, here’s the thing – I did find a pair of PJ pants on the sale rack I love – best fitting ever – and then gulp I paid full price for a dress. I really liked it, did not think the price was bad and at the time and now the purchases feel like a craving I fed. After exiting the shop, I walked out and called my friend S, one of the folks who had shared with me her strong anti-Anthropologie feelings, and said that is it for me. I will check out the Portland shop, but I would much rather support the independent stores with their incredible customer service like Bliss Boutique on Exchange Street.
The dress, my one and only Anthropologie purchase (I will pair with my tan Birkenstocks and ankle Frye boots). What do you think – about the shop, about losing handmade to industry?