I think the reason I love charity shops, car boots and vintage shops is because I’ve always hated the idea of buying something that is the same as almost everything else. For instance, whilst I think some people look great in ripped jeans, I always hated the idea of taking a pair of ripped jeans from a shop rail and seeing an identically ripped pair of jeans behind them – the story of those ripped jeans is a calculation in a factory, and every single story is the same, it lacks originality. I love stories, that’s why I do an English with Creative Writing degree, I love reading, hearing, experiencing and telling stories. I want my clothes to be another means to tell a story, whether or not I know that story doesn’t matter, the idea that I can look at my patched-up vintage Levi’s jacket and try and imagine the stories that caused the wear and patches just make it interesting, it gives it personality, and as Samuel L. Jackson says in Pulp Fiction ‘Personality goes a long way’. Personality can make something horrible into something perfect – for me anyway. I want to know that things I own have either travelled – possibly moreso than me – or maybe they’ve somehow managed to spend twenty years in the same place, being trusty to one person, or maybe whole families have owned or perhaps worn that one item, whatever the story, it is interesting, and it is personal to that item of clothing, and now it is personal to me.
I have a favourite red shirt, it’s worn out, I bought it in Norway about six years ago from a farming shop, it has about five different holes and rips in it, the collar is slightly worn out and I love it. It represents and holds many stories from the past few years of my life. I don’t ever wear it formally any more, but whenever I put it on, I am comfortable, I am myself. I am a sentimental person, and because of this, I don’t know if I will ever get rid of that shirt. Clothes that can make people be themselves and be genuine are the most valuable items in a person’s wardrobe; the best thing that someone can be is genuine – the worst thing that someone can be is ‘phony’ (as Salinger has his character Holden Caulfield rattle on about in The Catcher in the Rye). If you want to join into a subculture through fashion – do it right, be genuine about it, get your own rips, get somebody else’s rips – not some factory machine’s rips. Be genuine – in yourself and in the way you dress.
I have an old Musima classical guitar which I found back in 2009 being thrown out of an old abandoned house that had been home to squatters and junkies for as long as I could remember, it was covered in cigarette burns and was worn near to death, I slowly nursed it back to health with different oils and sanding, and whilst it is not the best quality guitar I still love it from my shared experience with it, and the interesting story that must have gone with it. Musima are a make of guitar from when Germany was still divided into East and West, they were based in the Soviet Eastern Germany half: the guitar has history. I also figure that it having survived time in the old abandoned house must mean it was around for some pretty interesting things. Meanwhile, one of my best friends had been given a similar Musima classical guitar (from a slightly later date) by his step-grandmother who had taught in a school in Argentina, where they had this guitar but never used it, and so they gave it to her to give to him (knowing that he played guitar) – for this guitar to have travelled from East Germany to Argentina and then to London must have been an interesting story of sorts, and then for both my friend and I to each have come into these guitars in our own interesting and unique ways, just adds even more to the story, and now they live in nearby houses in London, semi-reunited guitar relatives – and who knows what they will do in the future, and who will know the story of me finding the guitar and wonder about the weird marks on it? I collect many weird things, I think I collect them for their stories more than anything else – Livs hates some of them, but still I get them to inspire my mind whenever I happen to rest my eyes upon them. Plus, it always feels good to find a good bargain, especially when you’re supporting charities and the local economy, right?