boycott topshop

Photo source: fashionmagazine.com

Up until now I've tried to not really mention my opinions on Topshop on this blog. Mainly because I'm quite conflicted about how to explain them, but also because I know people don't really give a shit because they do what they do really well. If you like that sort of thing. But fuck it. It's something that I feel really angry about & if a blog that started off kind of personal style like can't talk about Topshop then the universe must be broken right? Because most people I talk to about this don't know & I think that's the problem.

So right. 

We all (mostly) know that Amazon, Google and Starbucks don't pay their tax. But why does no one ever mention Arcadia? Probably because no one's heard of them. Arcadia Group Limited own some things you have heard of though; Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Wallis, BHS, Topman & yes indeed, Topshop. They are theoretically owned by Lady Christina Green, or Tina Green. She happens to live in Monaco, haha isn't that handy? A tax haven! Of all places! (She also, on a side note is a white South African, which is something that sits with me extremely uneasily.) Her husband, Sir Philip Green is actually the owner of Arcadia Group and all the others. He does the day to day running and for all intense and purposes is the owner, except he lives in London. Where you (well.. most of us) have to pay tax. So you know as a gesture to make her feel involved or whatever he put his conveniently placed wife at the helm. Imagine earning £1.2billion one year and not even being the owner! No wonder David Cameron asked Sir Green for advice on how to cut government spending, considering he managed to cream off all that profit. 

This wasn't the thing that made me stop shopping there though, like 3? 4? 5, maybe, years ago though. No. It was the experience of being in a Topshop. The images showing girls with personality, models that you'd heard of, wearing clothes you could actually buy. & this is the thing "personality". I think Topshop was the first place where I ever really felt like they were trying to sell a personality to young girls. You know, like buy this dress & you'll totally be Kate Moss! Buy these shoes & you'll be Claire Danes in My So Called Life! Buy these & that guy who's never spoken to you will immediately love you! I know all advertising is like this but it felt more so in Topshop for me. I also felt like their copies of runway looks were being sold to people without the information. & the fact that Topshop is now trying so hard to drive the London Fashion Week scene makes me sort of physically sick. The fact that Samantha Cameron can pose with designers, Philip Green lurking in the background, whilst her husband diminishes the arts and pretends the fashion industry isn't one of the only things we still have going for us in this country. That the name St Martin's resonates around the world more than Eton should fucking mean something, should translate.

But it doesn't. Instead they churn out polyester copies at massive prices and inadequate quality & then turn round & tell us they know so much about fashion because they've worked with a couple of brilliant designers. & I can't say the collaborations are a bad thing to be honest, apart from the obvious fast fashion (& high fashion) guilt about eastern factory workers & the fact that they are essentially more expensive Topshop clothes that they didn't have the guts to make themselves. I also can't explain why I still shop in places like H&M or Zara who pretty much do the same thing. Well actually, H&M doesn't pretend to be anything it's not. It's collaborations are a genuine surprise and it is fast fashion but it doesn't ever say it isn't, it doesn't tell me it knows more than I do about how to dress myself. 

So basically I'm still very conflicted. But my anger remains and that keeps me away. I read someone's post about Topshop clones once who probably wrote this out better than me. I mean my generation did it because it was there, I don't hold it against them. I like that everyone looks better than they did in the 90s, is more aware of fashion than they were, I just fucking hate that they all look the same & that that seems to be the ultimate goal.

You know?


photos from new york

So whenever I get back from a holiday I always kick myself for not having taken more photos, I did alright this time but oh well. Here are the highlights I managed to get my phone out for! Top right to left.

1. A plate of meat. Yes, yes. All flavoured amazingly (can you see that red bit, yeah that's spices!) From Peaches, the best restaurant in Bedford-Stuyvesant. It was also followed with the best brownie I've ever tasted in my life.
2. Central park on my 21st birthday, the weather swung between sunny and cold and snowy and cold. Luckily this was a sunny day so I could just about get away with my silk birthday dress.
3. Kiosk is an exhibition of everyday things from around the world. It's a nice little break from Broadway (which is like a crazy shopping boulevard) up some dodgy looking stairs. Every item comes with a little personal story or some information. It was lovely! Plus they had a doughnut map of New York. Definitely a must investment for my next trip to NY!
4. The view out my window in Brooklyn
5. Birthday breakfast at Pershing Square across from Grand Central Station, waffles, waffles, waffles. (did I already use this? Oh well, waffles, waffles)
6. View out of the MoMA which was an experience in itself!
7. The High Line in Chelsea. Reminded me on the one in Paris, but converting old disused railways turned into gardens is such a good idea, just imagining it in summer...
8. Shark graffiti on Mulberry Street!
9. Coney Island classic view.
10. Screw the Guggenheim, my favourite gallery in New York is the one next door. The National Academy Museum and School had the best modern art exhibition I've maybe like ever seen. There was so much breadth, from textiles (this is just the sculpture in the circular stairway up to the exhibitions! I wanted to take it home with me...) to sculpture to everything in between. It was just lovely. And after the hectic MoMA definitely some needed relief.
11. Williamsburg after the snow, just round the corner from the Barclays Centre (where the Nets play) and Brooklyn Flea. I did my most successful shopping here because the boutiques have the most amazing stuff in the world but the people who work there don't make you feel like a lesser human being (does that make sense?)
12. Narwhal skeleton!!!!!!! In the American Museum of Natural History (from Night at the Museum haha) a bit of a disappointment but it was our last day & we were kind of exhausted so... It was still amazing to see it though, all the dinosaurs and that. & it was the best gem exhibition I've seen, ever. Plus you can touch everything! Which makes it surprisingly better somehow...
11. Again the exhibition at the National Academy Museum, this was just sharpie on fabric but I've made a note to try it myself!
12. The Strand bookshop, (in the snow!) 18 miles of books! It was so overwhelming to go into a bookshop and have it all buzzy and busy (is was a Sunday) and it was just so overwhelming  We spent like an hour in there and barely scratched the surface. I grabbed a mug as a present and left before it swallowed me forever & I spent millions. Definitely going back though every time I'm in New York.
13. Green eggs and ham! Not sure which came first, the book or just pesto in scrambled egg but this was so fucking delicious I'd eat it again even if it wasn't Dr Seuss. From Brooklyn Label which also had amazing coffee. So. Good.

Seems like the perfect note to end on. Phew.


observations from new york

Going over the Williamsburg Bridge (complete with yellow taxi, hell yeah!) from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Anyway, BACK. Hello, hi, how are you? I see some comments have built up that I'll attend too and need to get back on with reading etc, but I think I'll prioritise washing and getting back to the right time zone first if that's cool. In the meantime here's a few photos and some of my observations from New York.

Seeing extremely famous works of art in real life is always incredibly surreal, Gogh's Dolce Vita, Rosseau's the dream, Friday Kahlo, Mondrian, Picasso, Matisse... You see where I'm going. And then we came to the work on the cover of the MoMA's current programme, The Scream by Edward Munch. Now this to me was incredible, to see this close up and real. Every fucking stroke of the pastel. But instead when we got there, the painting itself was illuminated by a thousand flashes and lights from cameras and phones and the crowd of people around it were stood back, not because of an enforced fence, but to get a better picture. The irony and absurdity of travelling all the way to New York, fighting your way through the crowds to the exhibition and then to simply stare at it through another screen just, well, I was speechless. So after standing in front of their flashes for a few moments to really see the piece I moved on. But man I wish I'd got their picture.

Ok let's get more specific. One of my main aims in NY was breakfast food. Waffles, pancakes, French toast, eggs, whatever, as long as their was an option to swamp it with maple syrup I was there. One of the unexpected consequences of this is that the places where we wanted to go (mainly Soho and around or Williamsburg) are like hipsterville. This is probably an outdated method to refer to them, but I'm not too down with the kids so let's just say, all in black, apple laptop, iced latte and granola (if any food at all). Sitting in the middle of all these skinny hipster boys and girls (often though not always vegan) and eating plated piled with stodge, calories and bacon is like THE most satisfying thing ever. If you don't understand then you're probably "one of them". (Just kidding guys you know I love you really)

I don't know if its because of the "hick" town I live in or because I'm at work most weekdays but the whole going to a cafe with a friend to sit opposite each other on laptops thing really hasn't caught on here yet. And I hope it never does. In fact Grey Dog had a sign up about not hogging seats and using laptops (which sort of makes up for putting all our pancakes on one plate...). But in Williamsburg we were looking for a bun and a cup of tea and were faced with two places both with rows of people's backs against the windows, laptops in front of them. We dubbed them the robot cafes. I guess if you don't have Internet at home, but to actually sit there with someone else and barely look up just seems like, unnatural to me.


After looking at what to do in Coney Island before we went and realising that everything was still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, I was a little apprehensive about what we would find. But to be honest everything was back together, Nathan's had a sign up saying that it would all be fine and since everything was due to open in time for Easter like a week after we were there, it was all done. And however cool it would've been to see it in full swing, there's just something about seaside towns in off-season that intrigues me. It's sort of the appeal of the abandoned park in Berlin, even though there were more people about. The creepy face too was just perfectly eerie and seeing the houses on the way as well as being able to go on a beach just 20 minutes out of the city is amazing. I really can't wait to go back and do everything, the museum, the hotdogs, the mermaid parade!

So yes. My birthday in New York was just perfect. It's a city I've always sort of idolised in that way that Europeans do about America and vice versa, but this was something else. I thing I've eaten my body weight in maple syrup, batter, pizza and Mexican food and I've spent enough money on incredible clothes to (hopefully) last me the year. I've also made a little map of my favourite places in New York and Brooklyn, mainly for me but its public so yeah, if you want tips! Shout out to Chuck too who guided some of our best food adventures. And well just phew, 25 hours of travelling there and back makes it almost nice to be home!


mother's day and new york

Once on Mother's Day me and my sister (or was it just me?) sang Mama by the Spice Girls to my mum. Nowadays though I think the Kanye West one would fit much nicer. In fact another nod to my sister, we went to see Kanye West together just after his mum had died he did this song stripped back, spotlight on him and there was no one left without tears in their eyes. I've been listening to a lot of early Kanye recently. Like remember how he was always so political? & yet people were surprised when he said all that stuff about black people in New Orleans. & that people don't know that his whole jaw has been reconstructed & is made of wire, when like his whole first album was about that is kind of weird to me. He's also an amazing artist, he dresses impeccably & shit I mean, sometimes his lyrics are just insane. Anywho, back to mum. Happy Mother's Day!

I'm off to New York for my 21st Birthday tomorrow, because you know, it seems fitting to be in America when I turn their legal drinking age. It's gonna be a different holiday than I expected but I really can't wait to explore & we're staying in Brooklyn so hopefully I can just pretend I live there for 10 days. I'm not timing any posts because I figure you guys are used to me disappearing & sticking up some half hearted shit seems against the point. I might be a-tumbling though since we're meant to have wifi... So yes, I'll come back with lots of photos & stories & hopefully some perspective (too much to ask? definitely).

See ya!


tumblr feminism

Right so this is really fucking hard to write. I'll start with the fact that tumblr has taught me a lot about how to talk about things & not be an ignorant dick about stuff, but it also makes me sensor myself quite a lot. I over think reblogging or reposting or commenting on anything because I do not ever want to derail a conversation I'm not meant to be a part of, I don't ever want to make someone feel shitty because of something I've inadvertently done because I don't know any better. & basically this comes down to the fact that I'm a white & cis. So my opinion has obviously, been rammed down everyone's throat for years. Not as long as that immovable object that is the white cis man but you know, I get it. Here's my privilege if you want to check it for yourself.

Let me point out too that cis, privilege etc are all things that I've learnt on tumblr. They also mean that I take a fuck load of white feminism with a massive pinch of salt because whilst you can obviously only talk from your own experience, you should also halt yourself before you try to apply that to a whole gender. 

I've always approached feminism with caution, because to be honest, a lot of it to me is very problematic. The fact that somewhere along the line the shift refocused to academia from self empowerment bothers the hell out of me. When I talk to my mum's friends about the fact that I don't care about whether young girls call themselves feminists, I care that they have enough self empowerment to say no to things they don't want to do, yes to things they do & generally do whatever the fuck they want without anyone (male or female) judging them for it. That's more important. It's more important that every single woman in the world has the ability to do whatever the fuck she wants.

And that's the biggest thing. Every woman. Regardless of skin colour or wealth or appearance. Because the biggest thing tumblr has highlighted for me is the divisions in race. I knew racism is everywhere, I know this, but now I see it everywhere. It's like when you first realise that as a teenage girl you are suddenly sexualised & start to see signs of that everywhere, you can't stop seeing it ever again. & it makes me pissed that not everyone sees it. For example, the other night on my way back from work (6ish, so not late but dark) a man walked up really close behind me and then overtook me with inches between us. Now ok from his point of view he's just trying to get home, he's in a rush, I'm walking slower than him, whatever. But rape culture means that as a woman, at night on my own, if you walk that close to me it's a fucking declaration that my feeling of safety does not concern you. He doesn't see it because he doesn't have to. This is so much of why racism was all but forgotten by white feminists. Because they just don't fucking see it.

Tumblr means that I can follow debates and learn a fuck load about what isn't being seen. I can check my privilege and adapt my behaviour in my real life. I can call out racism when I see it. But again, as a white woman it's not my debate. I will never comment on a post by the "woc" that I follow because it's not my debate, my opinion does not matter & they are not fucking posting to teach me, it's got nothing to do with me. But I can observe and come away educated and move forward as a feminist who doesn't want to make the same mistakes of the past.

Shit I really hope I've articulated this properly.


doing the furry leopard

I'm not massive on leopard print but recently it's accidentally come into my life through 2 perfect garments, one charity shop dress and then this coat. I've been on the hunt for the perfect black fur coat for a couple of years now (insane, I know) & when I headed out yet again on the hunt I discovered this furry perfectly cut thing in the Mango sale in House of Fraser. It was like £30 or something but I had some vouchers from Children of the 90s so it only cost me like £12! Score! Plus a new necklace from New Look. How much are they killing it right now? I got a sweet black high neck dress for £10 & their jewellery was on buy one get one free. PLUS they're still owned & based in Swindon, non of that tax haven Topshop crap. Wa hey!

This week has been extremely rough. In fact it's been a couple of weeks of head fuckery & I think it's coming to an end. Hopefully. I'm trying to stay positive & look forward to my birthday in a couple of weeks (I'm going on holiday! More to come...). But I've not been the best at updating and commenting & everything, even though the contents got hella better, right? So I'm really sorry (STILL) but if frequent updates is what you're after I'm on my tumblr neonpeg most lunchtimes so there's a shit load over there.

Love love.