“It’s time,” you say, “4 to 6 is rush hour and it’s best to go when it’s busiest.” I put on my trench coat and grab a large tote bag. “Mustn’t forget the gun.” The sun’s out and it’s busy on the streets. The first days of Spring and people always seem to want to spend them by going shopping. I have no right to judge; in a certain manner I’m doing exactly the same.
“How does it work again?” I ask.
You stop to light up a cigarette and look up at me, slightly agitated.
“The gun basically holds powerful magnets which cause the metal in the tags to dislocate. It’s not very different from the system they use in the shops themselves.”
“And you’ve used it successfully before?”
“All the time.”
“Never got caught?”
We have to walk a couple of blocks – we don’t exactly live in the most affluent neighbourhood. By no means in the ghetto, but also nowhere near the area of our shopping destination. The colour scheme of the buildings gradually becomes less murky. I look down. There isn’t as much trash on the ground here. With time individual people blend into one; a ubiquitous whole of mass and sound. We turn the corner and I see it: the four golden, luminous letters against a pitch-black background, the spacious windows reaching the second floor, the ground with its tiles in hypnotising geometrical patterns.
We have arrived at the Gucci store.
“Just act like you come here everyday and it’ll be fine,” you quickly whisper into my ear. This isn’t very encouraging. Nevertheless I slouch my way towards the door with a somewhat bored and disinterested look on my face; the best impression of inward existential angst which remains unresolved by the unlimited credit card access that I could muster. You walk in front of me and guide me through the door. All the pieces are assorted in a spacious manner, it brings about a sense of calmness which I don’t usually feel in regular shops. I guess true wealth is measured equally by both space and time. I want to share this thought with you… but then I see it: a beautiful red sweatshirt. And not just any red but bright red, like when you cut yourself while shaving after a night of drinking and the blood is just a tiny bit more iridescent. That’s exactly what I feel when I let my fingertips glide softly over the fine coloured cotton — like the fabric in some way has metabolised inside me, as if it’s a part of me externalised and put on display. It explains the undeniable connection, the symbiosis, the synergy, between me and this red Gucci sweatshirt.
You grab a pair of checkered wool pants. They sort of remind me of the pyjamas my grandfather would wear but obviously prettier. The squares come in colours of sandy beige, opaque warm grey, and a diaphanous black which doesn’t unbalance the rest of the print like black can sometimes do.Through its delicacy it brings a necessary depth – it merges the individual parts into a harmonious whole. And as the finishing touch; two threads of red intersecting at the dead centre of each check. Upon the sight I can’t help but think of a vein, a lifeline, and also a target bomb sight. What would Freud make of this?
I put the garments on in the stall and right away you could tell the fabric is real supple not some scratchy, itchy wool but smooth as the last ripple of a wave of the great ocean. And I don’t even have to look in the mirror; I know I look good. The garment’s colour scheme is perfect match with the shades of my hair while the tailoring accentuates my slim build. No not just accentuates; enhances.
Together in the stall I say I’m not sure. When I’ll be walking outside strutting my new Gucci look I think they’ll know, they’ll know I could never have afforded it. The embodied discrepancy between the clothes and myself will reveal me as a fraud. The betrayal, the embarrassment, the sheer horror — what could be worse? Your eyes catch mine in the mirror: “But you look so good in it… would be a shame to not ever look this good again. I wouldn’t think anyone at Gucci would mind — they probably wouldn’t even notice. You really think they’re going to go in debt just ‘cause some young people wanna look good too? If Alessandro Michele were here today and he’d see you in his Gucci wear which matches so well with your hair, enhancing that slim build, you know what he would do? I bet you he would let you have it! He knows fashion and he knows when clothes work and you wearing this Gucci look is almost more fashion than fashion itself. You are now the embodiment of style. Rarely have clothes worked the way they’re working now, and he’d know it cause that’s what makes him the creative director after all. So if you already have Alessandro Michele’s approval than what more concessions would you really need?”
I nod in agreement but half mumble something about how “stealing is still stealing” and you reply that you wouldn’t call it stealing per se. “When you think about it, big corporations rob us all the time so we’ve already paid for it one way or another. Let’s face it: at Gucci they all know how the world works and we certainly know how the world works and we’re all in agreement here that it’s simply an unfair system. Why would poor people have to look poor? It’s stigmatisation if anything! We shouldn’t give in to class oppression without a fight, or a protest, or at the very least a firm stance. So basically we’re just shoplifting against capitalism.
Lola Noir is a Media & Culture graduate from Amsterdam. She works as a multidisciplinary artists who focusses mainly on photography and writing. Apart from her free work she also a regularly contributes to The Titty Mag and The Dreamers Magazine. web: www.lola-noir.com Image: Fashion Store, August Macke, 1914