News that H&M and Zara are finally launching online shopping, reported at My Fashion Life seems inevitable, if not suprisingly slow. My mum and I have been spending lunch hours on topshop.com for years, often speaking on the phone whilst looking at the same page on the website! Net-a-porter, My Wardrobe and the thousands of online boutiques that are similar have made shopping on the net the norm for many women.
But despite the fact that shopping, (like socialising, banking, etc) in cyberspace is becoming increasingly popular, I think I’m still living in the 20th century. Some have suggested that soon the ‘real’ world of shops will be just show rooms that people visit, whilst saving purchasing for the web and searching for the better deals online.
For me however, I use topshop.com as a Lookbook or a catalogue that wets my appetite and tells me what to look out for when I eventually get round to visiting the store. I receive weekly emails from Net-a Porter but have never purchased a single item. And, I don’t do eBay.
I like touching the clothes, seeing how they are made, trying them on (and yes I know you can do this with a free returns policy offered by many companies, but free or otherwise, it is hassle). I like entering the store and seeing other like-minded women. I like disappering with only my self for a couple of hours and anonymously indulging myself in my favourite shops. When I was 14 and had my first Saturday job, I loved nothing more than taking my whole week earnings (a hefty £40 cash) and walking into my favourite shop in the wonderful knowledge that I will try many items on and I will eventually buy something. My first taste of independence was being allowed to the local high street on my own to go shopping with friends on a Saturday afternoon. My first taste of financial independence was demonstrated by being able to shop for myself.
If people say that online social networks are killing people-skills and the communicational skills you develop speaking face to face instead of Facebook to Facebook, then perhaps the online shopping experience is killing something I have always enjoyed about actually shopping. I don’t like the crowds, I avoid Oxford Street at all costs and I don’t really do it socially, but I love the actuality of it. The trip on the bus, when your favourite song plays in your favourite shop and the sensory experience of shopping.
This is nothing new. Our whole world is getting less and less ‘real’ and more and more digital. But Hennes and Zara are massive companies that did buck the trend and did demand that you had to leave the laptop and go to the highstreet. So despite Hennes and Zara, two high street giants, going online, I will still go to the high street. Happily, I will queue for 10 minutes for the changing room, try on the jacket I have no intention of buying and buy the bag I have been dreaming of for ages. I will continue to loose a couple of hours dreaming of dresses and trying on a dozen pair of ankle boots. I will keep staring at all the fantastically stylish women that can be seen in ‘real’ life and ‘real’ time.