Sigh. One of The Boyfriend's nieces asked for gift cards from either Forever 21 or Hollister stores. I forget what it's like to be in high school…no, strike that. I've just never been part of a social group that takes mall brands and expresses a preference between them. (Instead I'm part of a social group that takes Web brands and expresses preferences between them. Which is a whole lot less shallow, isn't it? Just nod with me here and move on.)
"Forever 21" is just such a frightening brand idea that I dismissed it immediately. Ponce de Leon did not shop here. I think it's meant to appeal to 30-something women who mistakenly think they look younger in those clothes, and teen girls who mistakenly think they look older. So I thought I had a clear loser in the tacky brands contest. But until I saw their website, I didn't realize that the Hollister brand doesn't refer to men's and women's lines–instead it has Dudes and Bettys. Any woman who self-identifies as a Betty (and isn't actually named Betty) needs to be run over with her own Jetta.
I couldn't decide which disgusted me more, so I went to the nearest mall and went to the only one they had. I knew it was going to be a challenge when I saw the greeter at the store who recited an advertising message to me as soon as I walked in. "Hi! Our fleece is an extra 20% today, in great colors for both men and women! Try one on today!" My immediate instinct was to click on her to see which ad network was serving her. I think that means I've been working in interactive marketing too long.
I was amazed at how dark it was inside; then again perhaps that was to hide the shame on your face from buying a $30 t-shirt. At least they lit the photos of the muscular surfer guys half-wearing their clothes. I laughed that the Hollister brand relies so heavily on surf and beach iconography; I had mean fantasies of disappointed tourists who booked surf vacations in the real town of Hollister, California, 40 miles and a mountain range away from the ocean. I made my way back to the even-darker counter, where the sales associates struggled to read tags and labels in the dim light. I bought the gift card, dodged the avalanching display of unisex cologne, and fled.
Ok, perhaps I lingered on the half-naked photos a bit longer. But what's so wrong with wearing both sleeves of a shirt at the same time?