I’ll keep it short.
I could go on a rant but here is the short reason why I will not be attending the Grand Opening of Nordstroms.
While I have heard they have excellent customer service, at the end of the day, Nordstroms is just another example of American Mass Consumerism finding a foothold in Canada.
There is nothing in Nordstroms I can’t buy at Holt Renfrew, the Hudson’s Bay or online. All this fanfare fare takes away from the real issues: the polarizing of retail (that is discount retailers vs high-end retailer), mass market, fast fashion consumption, and the death of the Canadian identity when it comes to clothing and fashion.
Issue 1: Polarizing of the Retail Market
These days the middle class in the Western World isn’t getting ahead. It seems like the middle-class in Canada work for the rich and help to feed, clothe, and shelter the poor. More and more of the income of the middle class is being spent on living. The disposable income that they would spend on clothing goes to two places. The first place, especially in Calgary, is on “luxury” items used to impress neighbours that they never speak to (since they drive in and out of their front attached garage Monday to Friday, 9 – 5). The second is on discount, fast fashion merchandise. The kind that looks good the first of second time you wear it and then fades in the wash.
What does this mean?
The coming of Nordstrom further polarizes the retail market. Many mid-range, quality stores are increasing pushed out. These stores include local boutiques that are run by people who live in the community. These shops actually curate their merchandise and do their best to find clothing that will last and that is well-made.
A day will probably come where people are tired of “keeping up with the Joneses” and buying garbage clothing. But by that time will there be many more local clothing stores? Will there be a middle market OR will consumers have less choice? This brings me to my second point. If people continue on with their rampant consumerism there may very well be less choice in the market.
Issue 2: Fast Fashion and Rampant (Conspicuous) Consumer
OH MY GOODNESS. Can we stop buying garbage clothing? We all have seen it : The girl with her Michael Kors Bag and a polyester top from H&M. Or the grown woman with UGGS and $19.99 jeans. This really ties into point two. People spend so much money on trying to convince other people they have money. They try so hard that they are forced to cheap out on other parts of their wardrobe. This also also applicable in life: Make that Range Rover payment or fix that leaky sink.
I believe that Nordstrom picked Calgary as its first location to open because Calgary is FULL of conspicuous consumers.
Why does it suck to live in a city full of conspicuous consumption and fast fashion?
Because it makes your city boring and unoriginal. It stifles culture. If people are only looking for what is “cool” and “trendy” they ignore true originality. They don’t invest in Canadian clothing designers like Rebecca King, Jennifer Glasgow or Dagg&Stacey.
*Also let us not forget that fast fashion has a human cost. How do you think a store can afford to sell you a t-shirt for $5. I’ll tell you. Someone was paid almost nothing to make it. At such low margins, manufacturing managers and owners don’t invest in their building or equipment, so the conditions that other human beings are working in are dangerous. People lose their limbs and lives so Jennifer who lives in Mahagony can buy a “cute $5 tank top”. I don’t really feel that I have to say more on this.
Issue 3: The Loss of Canadian Identity
When the subjects or citizens of a country don’t invest in their local talent the local talent goes elsewhere. When large American stores like Nordstroms comes into the marketplace fast fashion clones begin to identify with the American esthetic. I’m not saying that Canadians and Americans are that much different. What I am saying is that Canadians do have their own identity.
If we cannot nurture and support local designers or local stores then we risk becoming and embracing the American esthetic. Ew.
Update: Recently Jeanne Beker told reporters this
Yes, there are some fantastic burgeoning [Canadian} fashion brands on the horizon, and new online opportunities are destined to change the shape of things to come. But I still worry about logistics. Big American retailers are moving in, fast and furious. We all have to pray that they’re going to recognize the value of what’s intrinsically Canadian, and how supporting these brands is vital to our national identity and, ultimately, our sense of ourselves. Then we have to get out there and shop – invest in our own, support homegrown labels, make a lot of noise about them. It’s time for Canadian fashion to rise up and show the world it matters. And it’s up to us to strut it proudly.
Source: Globe and Mail