Do We Still Cherish Quality?

July 15, 2017   /   byRhonda Buss  / Categories :  Feeds
My grandmother didn't learn to knit until she was in her 60s. She learned to tat, crochet, embroider, and sew as a child and did each beautifully. Once she learned to knit, she loved it and had a new found passion. I became the very fortunate recipient of many of her projects. Whenever I would come to visit, she would borrow books and have them waiting for me to look through and choose something that I would like to have. On one visit, I chose a long, v-neck tunic. A lavender yarn caught my eye, and the anticipation of the finished garment began.

At the time, long tunics with bell bottom pants were popular (yep, I've lived long enough to see this trend circle around more than once!). While I waited, I designed my outfit, matching lavender bell bottom pants with a white blouse. The blouse had gathered sleeves and a tied neckline. Once the pants and blouse were finished, I eagerly anticipated the arrival of my grandmother's package. 

I moved to Chicago in 1982. At the time, Michigan Ave. was truly the Magnificent Mile. The stores that lined the avenue were Bonwit Teller, Marshall Field's, Lord and Taylor, Saks, I. Magnin, Nieman Marcus and more. Inside they glistened as though everything was made of gold and crystal. Incredible pieces of clothing hung beautifully on the racks. It was a dreamer's paradise. I interviewed for a position with I. Magnin and was offered the job. 

Although my official position was in cosmetics, we were encouraged to sell throughout the store as we were given commission on everything we sold. I developed a relationship with my customers and learned what they liked, as well as what they used and needed. Each morning when I arrived, I would quickly scan through the store to see what was new, what was on sale. The next few hours were spent on the phone calling customers. It made for a much easier shopping experience for the customers and a more lucrative situation for me. Sadly, all but Saks and Nieman Marcus are now just a memory. 

Although I live in Chicago, I usually save my trips to downtown for when I have an appointment. A week or so ago, I had a doctor's appointment, so I decided to do a little shopping. I had heard on the news that there were incredible bargains to be had. My first stop was Zara. I had never been in the store...and I will never return. As I walked through the door, I was shocked to see what looked more like a garage sale than a store on Michigan Ave. Clothes were hanging cock-eyed on the hangers, tables were a jumbled mess. It all felt rather surreal, and my head began to scream, GET OUT OF HERE!!!. My next stop was Banana Republic. The store was well taken care of, nothing hanging off of a hanger, or piled on the floor. I saw a strapless dress on a mannequin that looked rather nice, but on closer inspection, it was flimsy with no built in support. From there, I popped into H&M, Top Shop, and Macy's. I felt heartbroken that the lovely shopping experience that at one time existed was now gone, but not totally. 

I walked into Ralph Lauren and was met with lovely, soothing music. The sales clerks were welcoming. I struck up a conversation with one and asked if she had customers who could not afford to buy non-sale items. She said, "oh, quite a few." She went on to describe basically the same shopping experience that we offered so many years ago at I. Magnin. She said that when a sale was about to hit, she has a list of customers that she calls to alert. She said that she also has customers who can only afford items if they have been marked down the second time, and she added, "I love them all!" 

This week I began working on a sweater that is on my list of knitted pieces that I would like to complete this year. 

As I knitted each row, and the piece grew longer, I found myself dreaming of how I would like to wear the garment, tights with over the knee gray boots. Then the memory of the lavender tunic came to mind, and how I anticipated its arrival and cherished the outfit each time I wore it. I ended up literally wearing it out.  

I think that for those who sew, our clothes have continued to remain precious. We honor great construction and beautiful fabric. And whether we purchase garments from high-end department stores or not, we do enjoy looking. 

While many cannot afford high-end clothing, I wonder if clothing for many has lost the factor of being cherished, respected and lovingly cared for. After all,who cares if it falls apart, it didn't cost that much and another can be had. Do we still anticipate and look forward to having a new garment, or has shopping for a bargain replaced a desire for quality? 

I would love to hear your thoughts :)  

This is a syndicated post. Please visit the original author at Rhonda's Creative Life

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