In this post I ask why men do not shop. I carry out economic research in strange places, disguise myself as James Bond and fail once again to get laid.
There are certain pleasures reserved only for women it seems. One of these is shopping. It is true that men buy things but one practically never hears of a man shopping as a hobby. This is reflected in the layout of department stores the world over. Four floors are devoted to women's needs while in the attic on the fifth floor there is a menswear section. The store operators know that they do not have to make this particularly convenient for the men who shop there because the men are not simply shopping. They came with the intention of buying that item regardless of its position in the store.
It does seem that women are doing something right and men are doing something wrong. Women have higher living standards and live longer while men have been hit far harder by the recession.
Shopping does not even need to be expensive (provided one does not buy much). It is reasonable exercise (burning 243 calories an hour) and teaches one about life. The wonderful thing about wandering round the West End of London is that it teaches us things about economic behaviour that cannot be found in text books.
Not everyone seeks utility when they buy an item. Some people seek something transcendent which is more akin to a religious experience. I visited a peculiar show put on in the Royal Academy of Art which is in the middle of the most upmarket shopping area. Visitors entered darkened rooms and peered at bags through opera glasses as if they were religious icons of some kind. The 'commentary' actually resembled a Speed Seduction patten- a more or less meaningless mix of poetic language and transcendent flattery. Only women seemed to be affected by this.
Nearby I found Ralph Laurien which is probably the US take on English Gentleman. This was a temple to branding in a different sense. Oppressively lush and built on the most expensive retail street in the entire world- the real product on sale there was the brand itself. I examined a massively over priced polo shirt. They appeared to be well made but made of unexceptional cloth. Furthermore they were far too tight for middle aged guys like me. The whole thing struck me as deliberately elitist and rather rude.
I finally returned to my beloved Jeymin street. Here I found a more or less equivalent product made of better cotton and with mother of perl buttons. Above all it was designed to promote the wearer rather than the brand as the cloth hung loosely over the stomach making one appear muscular rather than fat. The price was less than half that of the Ralph Laurien product but above all the label was on the inside.
In the evening I tried to attend a singles meet up but it was so disorganised I did not connect with the group.