Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Fashionista, Incompletah!

I have an old friend visiting this week, who hasn't been to see me in awhile. She's the type of friend that you can have over, and not worry about dusting or cleaning every nook and cranny. And, I never have to plan our time together. We can just sit and talk for hours on end. And, so, in honor of her visit, I thought I'd tell a little story from one of her previous visits several years ago. A story I like to call, "Fashionista, Incompletah."
Several years back, two of my gal pals who live in a nearby city came for a visit. I had been living in this city for a few years, but really had not taken advantage of some of the biggest perks of living just outside of the largest city in Texas. One of these perks happens to be a little section of town I will call "Howard Street."

Mention the name "Howard Street" to any female who lives within a 100-mile radius of my fair city, and you will see her eyes light up immediately. Why, do you ask? Well, because it is the section of town where you can find the best knock-off fashions around. That trendy Louis Vuitton purse you have been pining for but can't buy because it costs more than a nice piece of furniture? Yeah, you can get something that looks JUST like it for about $50, or sometimes cheaper.

So, my two friends and I made it our goal to find this street and see if it was just as fabulous and we'd all heard it was. Actually, one of my two friends had been there before, and so she was our guide to the world of knock-offs.

As we were driving, this friend began to tell her of her last experience there, with another friend of hers. Her friend had a model-like thin body and just had that trendy and sophisticated look about her. They had found a handbag shop and that she'd been happy enough with, but she didn't really see anything that was a true knock-off as her friend had touted they would have. The purses all LOOKED like imitations of the top designers. She wanted the read enchilada...well, not the REAL enchilada, I suppose. She wanted the enchilada that looks just like the beefy, full-fat enchilada you love, but that vaporizes in your throat before a calorie hits your thighs. She wanted the purse that had the duplicated logo of the designer on it and everything...one that only a trained professional with a lot of time on her hands would be able to tell it was a fake.

I don't have to tell you that selling this sort of thing is illegal. But, a fashion-forward woman with a serious purse-obsession will break any law to have a hipster handbag without having to sell an organ to pay for the real thing. My cheapie side can really understand this, even if I'm not much of a purse hound.

So, my friend continues with her story, her beaming face giving away that there is a happy ending already. She tells us how her friend approached the clerk and asked to see the "other" room with a knowing nod. Immediately, the clerk nods back with a smile and whisks the two of them to a back room, which was closed off to the general public. There, my friend found her true utopia--a room filled with purses that looked designer-made, but at less than half the price. It was a Handbag Eden and she was giddy with excitement. As she finished her story, she clutched her bag closely and lovingly. She shared how she couldn't wait to bring home another one. We agreed. Of course, a little brother or sister clutch for her first knock-off bag was just what her happy home needed!

As we found the street, we were not sure where to begin. Upon first glance, the street looked run down and scary. The shops did NOT look like the type of places you'd find anything thrilling. They more resembled a huge flea market, crammed into really run down strip centers. And, there were SO MANY. After wandering around, we found a few promising shops, but nothing big. Cheaply made cute jewelry, belts, and so forth were all we'd managed to buy.

And, that's when she saw it. "I know this is the place we went for the purse," my friend squealed. "We've finally found it!" We all walked in the shop, eager to see this purse palace. The selection in the main part of the shop was nice. As someone who doesn't really get into purses at all and will happily buy one for $20 with NO designer emblem, I didn't see what the big whoop was really. But, it was the back room we all had our eyes on...that was where we'd find the real enchiladas and our mouths were watering at the thought of that!

After making one mandatory pass of the store, my friend motioned to us that she was going to approach the clerk about the back room. We walked closer to her, so we could tag along once she got clearance to enter.

"I was here a few months back and bought this purse. I was so happy with it and I was hoping I could get another," my friend said discretely.
"We NO have purse," the Asian store-clerk said emphatically.
"What? No, that's impossible because I bought it here."
"Sorry. NO purse here."
Baffled, my friend walked away and returned to us.
"But, I know that was the clerk who let us in the back room. I know this is the place. It was that room. I don't understand! Why would they let me go there before, but not now? Why are they LYING to us?"
We tried to help by saying maybe she didn't express to the lady that she knew about the room. Perhaps there was some secret code word or something that her friend knew that she was forgetting? Or maybe it was because other customers in the store were watching at the time she asked? Wracking her brain, she waited a few minutes and then quietly went back to the woman once everyone in the store (but us) had left.
"Excuse me? I hate to bother you again, but I know I bought this purse here just a few months ago. It was in the other room? I was shown the other room?
Surely you remember,"
she pleaded.

The clerk looked her in the eye with a hint of amusement behind her own and said,

"No other room. Nothing is in there. I do not know what you are talking about."

At this point, my other friend and I began giggling. But, my "purse" friend returned really disheartened.

"I don't understand. What am I not 'cool' enough to get in the room? What is it about me? Why are we being rejected?"

I laughed and told her that the whole problem was probably my presence, which admittedly glared suburban housewife. I am far from trendy and don't look like someone who would buy a kick-ass purse. Or maybe we looked like "Narcs" or something!

So, the rest of the day, we ambled by stores and found a few cute things but no major deals. We left "Howard Street" feeling very less like fashionistas and more like we'd been invited by a rock star to an invite-only celebrity bash only to be rejected at the door with a laugh. Left to stand in some dirty alley peaking in at all the celebrities we might be able to meet, if only someone would let us into the party. We were so close, and yet so far...

I don't know what it says when you can't even by a fake designer bag from peddlers on the street. But, I'm pretty sure this confirms that I won't be on any best-dressed lists in our city anytime soon!


Blogger Babs said...

YES, you totally captured the dialogue AND the scorn we received! Great story. I'm going to totally hate ya'll if you go back and score this time.

11:28 PM, May 09, 2006  
Blogger Nicole said...

LOL! Great story! Maybe they had been busted and had to clean up their act. Good luck finding the promised bag land this time!

11:50 AM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger frazzledmom said...

If you ever take a trip to New York, go to Canal Street...same deal. I got a $600 Burberry purse for $40 - a real Burberry purse...it was a bargain "Basement" (i.e. very small room in an unmarked building in the basement crammed with the "real" goods.) Although, the one time in my life when I purchased goods, that were not being sold in an honest way, Karma came and bit me in the ass. That BEAUTIFUL BURBERRY purse...was stolen from my car. Once a hot purse, always a hot purse - so my husband said. Better luck next time.

12:44 PM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

They have been busted here recently and are probably scared. Also, unless you are a vendor and plan to buy 100's of purses they don't want to deal with you. Or, you just look like an undercover cop. One or the other.

4:11 PM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

I have a "Murakami" Louis Vuitton that my mom bought for $150. It is awesome- It even has fake serial numbers and the Louis protective bag and a certificate of authenticity! I'm convinced that there are women out there carrying one of my fakes who thinks it's the real thing!

Anyway, I carried it in LA the summer that you couldn't get one and celebrities were on waiting lists for them and I can't tell you how many people came up to me demanding to know how I'd gotten mine!

I should've tried to eat at The Ivy, or something!

5:24 PM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger daysgoby said...

Hey, Chickie!

You weren't in the way of those twisters, were you?

Here's hoping the MCats are still at home -

5:38 PM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger Lisabell said...

Ohh, the humiliation of that day still burns bright in my shopper's heart. [sigh] My friend who used to go there regularly said she rarely does anymore because they even started screening HER, letting her in inconsistently -- and now that she has babies and lives in the 'burbs, it's not worth the risk of rejection to drive all the way over there.

But. She just showed me her collection of faux purses past, and O.M.G. I think it might be worth the risk!!!

It's *almost* enough to know that at least they're out there...almost...

6:55 PM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

I replied to Jessica already, but I'll put on here too--the tornados were not near us. Several touched down near my parents and my hometown, but no one I know was affected thankfully. Thanks for checkin' on me though, Jessica!

Lucinda, the bag story is just a sign of what is to come...I truly think it is only a short amount of time until you are blogging about run-ins with the likes Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson. And, I might add, I can't WAIT to hear what you have to say about them. Hehehehe!

One last thing...I have the most bizarre word verification ever for this comment: "csbugbm"

11:44 PM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger Lisa said...

LOL! That happened to me in New York once! It was so weird. They slammed the garage door closed and everything.

You and your friend have to make a trip up here and go to Sam Moon. Totally on the up and up, storefront and all. Sam Moon has it all!!

6:56 PM, May 11, 2006  

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