“Shopping, to me, is not only a hobby but also a lifestyle and with shopping comes peace of mind and relaxation,” says a shopaholic.
She stood in the centre of the place right beneath the great glass chandelier. Turning 360 degrees with eyes bulging, she finally directed her gaze towards her cell phone. She went through her playlist and finally put her headphones on. This reminded her of algebra and her mother, of her math teacher, who with all possible force pulled the ruffian of the last bench to work out the problem on the chalkboard. Shopping to Niti is what math is to most: Unfathomable yet necessary. Today, when we are surrounded by shopaholics, there do exist beings who are opposed to the notion of shopping as a lifestyle. While most parents shop with closed fists, there are some those who encourage this very concept. Myths are broken when we now see that men, too, devote a considerable time catering to their fashion pangs.
Speaking of shopaholics, enter Mahima Vora, first of her name, Queen of Michael Kors and Coach, most valued customer at Jimmy Choo, veteran of a thousand sales and mother of all that is Forever New. She also happens to be a speech therapy student at Manipal University and her parents usually keep her on a short leash (a literal one) to somehow restrict her from running off and buying every pair of heels she can get her hands on. She says, “Shopping, to me, is not only a hobby but also a lifestyle and with shopping comes peace of mind and relaxation. It is my form of yoga. I might go to the mall having resolved to not buy anything, but I come back home with a dress, a pair of heels or even something as simple as nail paint.” When asked what goes on inside the mind of a shopaholic, when they see a dress or a shoe, a question that has befuddled and baffled even rocket scientists, she laughs and says, “Everyone who loves to shop has a different reason to. Personally, I feel like buying anything that is even remotely likable. After this I-want-to-buy-this phase comes the where-will-I-wear-it phase. I start imagining myself in this dress going for parties and other appropriate occasions. After this I enter a what-will-I-wear-it-with phase. This is the point of no return. Once I enter this stage, consider that item sold. I think about what heels to pair the dress with, what lipstick shades would look good with it and so on. If I do not have anything to go with the dress, I end up adding them to my cart as well.”
We asked her as to how often she shopped and how much footwear and clothing she owns. (Those with a heart condition please read the answer at your own risk.) “I usually visit malls at least five to six times a month and almost all the Indian clothes exhibitions. I don’t exactly remember how many dresses and heels I own, but approximately 30 heels, 40 dresses and around 35 to 40 bottles of nail paint. What people do not understand is that for me shopping is my personal niche. No one can encroach upon it. Some people have writing, some have music. I have shopping.”
Contrary to the above, there grows a faction that indulges in limited shopping for most of the time and is yet partial towards bags, belts or boots.
Raghav Malhotra, a Class XII student of Jamnabai Narsee School, is infatuated with bowties. “Bowties help me make my personal style statement; it is my ‘thing’. I would readily spend on a bowtie, but not on anything else. I do not believe in the concept of splurging on clothes or shoes, but a little something extra to make your mark is worth it.”
Arushi Pandya, an 18-year-old student, is the one to break stereotypes. She says, “Yes, I am a girl and shopping is not one of my favourite things. I would rather spend that money on a good book and a comfortable couch.” Addressing the blasphemous amount of money that a lot of people spend on shopping, she says, “I, for a fact, do look at the price tag while shopping unlike a lot of other people who I know. However, this is not because I need to. I have parents who love seeing me smile when I get my hands on a piece from the latest collection of Charles and Keith, but it is because I don’t find the fad of shopping worth the unending hours of work that my parents put in with their hard-earned money.” However, she does allow herself the occasional indulgence, “I can go three months without shopping for clothes but I do not trust myself when it comes to footwear. I love my Tresmodes, my Charles and Keiths and my Aldos. One store in the mall that always draws me towards it, except the ice cream stall, is the one which sells footwear. I have more footwear than I need, but a little luxury never harmed anyone.”
Aaryan Shah, a student of NIT, Trichy, frowns upon the idea of unrestricted spending. “I always shop within a budget. Regardless of my liking for that particular piece of clothing, I will always check the price. Also, I shop in a categorical fashion. I will purchase one pair of formal shoes, one pair of casuals and one pair for sports. The same goes for my shirts and tee shirts. I will buy only the colours that I don’t have. My parents do encourage me to shop a bit more, but even they do not believe in unnecessary expenditure.
A mother from an upper middle class background, who wishes to be anonymous said, “I shop about four times a year, which also includes shopping for festivals and other special occasions. I spend roughly 40,000 to 50,000 rupees annually on clothes, footwear and accessories collectively. Although I am an average shopper, I encourage my two teenage daughters to shop to their heart’s content irrespective of the price tags.” Yet, there are those who shop not for pleasure but out of need. Her housemaid, a daily worker, mentions that though she shops for clothes about two to three times a year, her annual expenditure does not rise above 5,000 to 6,000 rupees.
We also ran into Shailesh Vora, a 72-year-old man who grew up in a generation that survived on the bare necessities. Echoing the sentiments of a confused father whose wallet is a martyr to the cause of a large wardrobe for his children, he mentions, “It is beyond my comprehension as to how kids these days spend so much money on clothes. I grew up with six brothers and between the seven of us, we had eight shirts. We used to keep circulating the shirts between us and our father. There has obviously been a drastic change since those times. However, the fact lost on the younger generation is that clothes cannot change who you are. People have forgotten that one should try to become a quality person. Someone might admire what you are wearing, but they will never respect you because of it. Old people like us will always give unsolicited advice. Shopping for clothes is not bad, but it shouldn’t blind you. Don’t let yourself be defined by what you wear. There is a reason trends are called trends; they are temporary. A white shirt and blue jeans will always remain, as your generation calls it, in fashion.”
Though shopping for branded apparel has become the new fad complemented by the new craze of online shopping with the likes of Myntra and Jabong, there will come a time when realisation will dawn upon the crazy fashion fans about how it is more important to behave appropriately than dress appropriately. They will know that a man cannot be judged only by his pair of shoes bought from Louis Vuitton. However, this does not imply that we must not shop or look presentable but it is imperative that we remind ourselves to never judge a book by its cover.
Darshini Gandhi and Varun Dattani are handpicked products of the Bayside Pathfinder where we empower the young and the young at heart with the power of storytelling. To become a part of our extended family of unique contributors, call up Prem Madnani at +91 9892913788 or email him on [email protected].