Monday, October 13, 2008

urban survivalist boutique

I picked up my friend G, who is in town for a work convention for dinner tonight. She asked, since I had the car, if we could stop by some store her brother had been txt nagging her about and their only store was in SF. She had been planning to take a cab from downtown to the place.

It's actually quite far, over in the dogpatch neighborhood, which I didn't know was called dogpatch if it weren't for the signs noting the historical value of the neighborhood. It's a mix of warehouses and housing.

The entrance to the place is basically a warehouse driveway. You think you're walking into loading dock.

G looks around inquisitively, "is this is?" "This is the address." I reply.

It's a pretty hip looking place. Most of their clothes were in that army fatigue muted black, greens and browns. Her brother tells her it's the hottest thing and that because she likes outdoor stuff, she would love the place. It's like the next REI he says. I did notice a display for various water resistant matches.

Me, never having been part of the hip crowd much less any crowd starts to walk around the store to figure out what they really sell, while G calls her brother in Chicago to ask him about the supposedly great jacket that they have.

"Do you have the Roger?"
"Yes the ranger!"
Size and color?
"Do you have it in gray?"
Oh, our gray is really the black

Gray is their black? I ponder while looking at a rack for various indestructible cases for your iPod and other techie gear. The jackets and sweatshirts are made of that microfiber feel type material with lots of zippers and pockets. Price ranges I saw were close to $400 for a jacket.

G finally gets off the phone. THE jacket he wanted is out of stock but that they'll be getting more in December.

We both walked out of there more bewildered than before. What was that place? Who wears this stuff? Who buys this stuff?

What is the customer base that needs a $400 muted color jacket with lots of zipper, velcro and pockets, water resistant matches, and indestructible cases for your iPod?

G isn't exactly sure why her brother thought she would like the place. There wasn't anything there that she could actually use for her camping and crabbing trips. And come to think of it, her brother doesn't camp, so how would he know what to wear?

There was this pretension of being rugged, but not outdoorsy. It had the young hip look of not really being a storefront but a warehouse as if we were getting stuff right from the source in some back alley in a part of town that probably doesn't get alot of foot traffic. You'd have to know this place was here to go there. There was this down and dirty hardness about the gear.

I mean if you really wanted camping type gear, the stuff at army surplus is as good as you can get. The government invests alot of money in good equipment and clothing. So why this stuff?

That's when we realized we had stumbled upon, what we dubbed, the Urban Survivalist Boutique. Young, hip, urban who doesn't want to look like the Suit they have to wear during their 80 hr a week jobs. And yet, they still make a decent wage enough to buy into the look. But I am still perplexed by the dichotomy. Do they feel like they're just surviving? Do they have some sense that they think the world will come to an end, and that one day, they'll need those water proof matches stored somewhere in one of many pockets to build a fire to keep warm? But wait, their iPod will still have some juice.

I asked G, so what does your brother do for a living? He's an investment banker. Well, then, maybe he will need those matches one day.

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