Tag Archives: ecology

Vieuxveau Pauvre

by Sally Applin

To continue my post on the trend of “inconspicuous consumption” — in retrospect, I think that it’s counterpart is going to be quality. This means that thrifting will likely trump Target/Walmart and the bargain chains because if its made it to thrift, its got to have some quality in the construction that made it last.

When times are tough, and people have limited amounts of money, it seems that the idea of an investment in what one buys to last, becomes important. It isn’t just limited to consumer goods. There is a rise of concern about quality in food. Quality food may take longer to prepare, but what we put in our bodies will be better for us. Quality lasts and quality will help us last. 

The notion of quality as a trend layers over both “inconspicuous consumption” and of “get smaller” and neatly funnels into the eco-mantra “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.”

Through my trend filter, these look like this:

Reduce: get smaller. Buy less, but better quality so it will last. We will see less spending. We will see more Micro Homes.

Reuse: if people can’t afford new quality, they will seek out “old quality” either by thrifting, or home swaps or garage sales. (Another trend taking off for clothing seems to be  working wear goods such as painter’s pants, field coats and other kinds of very durable, high quality, but lower cost, and lower status “inconspicuous consumption” items.)

Recycle: Quality food will lead to more composting, more home gardening, more tuning into the ecosystem. Quality clothing will lead to more sharing, swapping, thrifting as durable goods can last. 

Trend: What’s “new” is the “old” European mindset

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

Trading Down

by Sally Applin

I think there is a trend undercurrent going on. I’m in it though, so it makes it more difficult to write about. Its also on the cusp, so not quite yet defined.

It goes something like this:

It feels, at least here in Silcon Valley, that there is some sort of _shift_ happening. I noticed it when I was out of the country for a month or so earlier in the year. Its this transition–from bags being given out at the store, to bags that one brings to reuse; from high end luxury cars, to small gas saving vehicles; from opulence to reduction.

In the New York Times today there was an article on one of the women who had been a founder of the Kate Spade line of fashion merchandise. The company was subsequently sold, and this person is now semi-retired, living with her three or so kids in a 4 million dollar New York townhouse. What is interesting about it, is the return to ruin of her style. She covered her antique sofas in white muslin and invited her children and their friends to draw on them–she painted dried twigs and strung them with Christmas lights to make lighting for her main rooms and used very cheap sconces from a local shop for her stairway lighting. Stacked vintage luggage serves as a bedside table. Her whole home seemed to be decorated in, and functioning as a “reuse, recycle” sort of home, not the showpiece architect designed sample of perfection, which so many aspire to, and which she herself lived in with her husband (now-divorced) several years prior.

Another article, also in the Times, focused on how even those with private jets are “sharing” them with friends, as one would share a taxi ride uptown.

Okay, admittedly these are very high-end examples.

To put my finger on it, it seems that priorities are shifting which in turn are changing some internal values. The economy has got to be a factor, but its also as if the neighborhood collectively woke up one morning and decided that they had entirely too many possessions and weren’t being smart about how they were using what they had.

Trend: not sure what it is, but it feels like there is some sort of values resorting going on…

©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.