Words: Mark Sywak
Image: Pacific Fair
Much like most young people, I grew up fascinated by the glitz and glam of suburban shopping malls. What was offered in these cathedrals of commerce rarely concerned me. Bigger was better and this even applied to the food court. As long as I could buy a large plate of greasy stir fry with special fried rice and a blue-moon milkshake, I was in heaven. I didn’t care that I couldn’t afford most of the “stuff” that I desired, it was the ‘potential’ displayed in bright lights and worn by sexy strangers in shop fronts that fuelled my interest.
Oh, how this has changed!
40 years young and somewhat more aware, I recently ventured to the nearest behemoth shopping precinct to purchase some track pants. These days I often shop online for anything new in the attempt to save a buck. This approach at times had mixed results and with the ‘fit’ of my desired trackies at stake, I knew I had to try before I buy. I also needed to purchase a spray bottle of mould killer. Gotta clean that shower!
I cautiously entered the mall and went directly to the nearest department store, Target. Look, I’m 40. Cheap, fast fashion was created for my type and especially for those who cringe at brand names. After a few laps of the menswear section, I was quickly distracted by a nice, burgundy t-shirt – only $3! Do I really need this? No. I was firm. Even with $3 shirts. I soon found a few pairs of generic, heavy-fleece pants you could find in abundance in any Lowes store and needing to pee from the effects of my morning coffee, I quickly bailed.
Next up was the Asian equivalent to Cotton On, Uniqlo, where everything was far from cotton. After circling this polyester paradise for what seemed like 10 minutes, I tried-on a pair of super soft n stretchy chinos, only to find they were for women! The shop assistant who informed me of my blunder found me a pair of better fitting, light-weight trackpants. Good quality, zippered pockets, $40. Not bad! But I was already drawn by what-else could be out there!?
The following 30 minutes consisted of my typical approach to shopping. In – look for pants – out! I had to give the sporting-brand stores some consideration. Why not? Adidas, Under Armour, Nike. My gung-ho, “I’m not here to fuck spiders” technique was working. I wasted no time, if any, trying them on. This efficiency spanned to stores like Rebel Sport where brand selection was large. Still no luck. Too expensive or with a contemporary styling which stuck to my calves like tights and yet bloused so much from my bottom, I could catch as much poo as I wished. No!
Back to the department stores. Kmart – crap! Big W – get me outta here! Then to the higher-end stores, David Jones and Myer, scouting for a possible end-of-season clearance bargain. Once again, I was stumped by very little choice in the sporting wear department. Shit! I found some top-of-the line Nike pants reduced from $100 to $70. Ok, these look great. If I am to buy 1 pair that are perfect, I can pay a bit more. A good shape, special stretch fabric that will wicker sweat and air your balls. Great! But these reflective strips – why? In the mirror my ankles had the potential to waive down aircraft. Whyyyy??
It was pushing late morning and the shop assistants were getting keen for a sale or just waking up! The in-house conversations were becoming more frequent, but I persistently stuck to my In-and-out strategy like a hunter pursuing their game. One assistant randomly asked me what I did for work. I told him politely and also ‘to have a nice day’ in the same response, left the store and continued my mission. Undeterred.
More shops, less success. I started getting nauseous as dehydration set-in from the relentless airconditioning. It’s 10:42am people! The day is not hot yet! For nostalgia sake, I searched for a blue moon milkshake in the food court. No luck, so I bought a juice, only to be stung almost $7…Ok, not exactly 1990’s prices!
After 1 and ¾ frustrating hours, having stepped foot into most clothing arenas, I decided to escape this black-hole of consumerism empty handed. Frazzled and unprepared to fork out my hard-earned cash on something substandard.
The fresh air, breezing into my face, revitalised me for the drive home. Before I could collapse into a ball of consumer failure, I dragged myself upstairs to have a nice luke-warm shower. Fuck! The mould killer!