My Totally Unexpected (And Somewhat Problematic) Love Of Hollister

hollister scandal

I don’t want to like Hollister. Let's get that straight out of the way. I don’t want to be able to go in their store and find ten, twenty things I would buy without a second’s thought. But I do. And I can.

There are many, many reasons why I am reluctant to admit I’m a fan. Why, until recently, I hadn’t even gone in to look around. I would like to say it was a matter of principle, and I guess partly it was. There has been much controversy over their store “models” - i.e, sales assistants - who have to look, behave, talk, and even smell a certain way in order to be employed there. There has been much written over the words of their CEO, Mike Jeffries, who was famously quoted as saying that his store only sold small clothes because he didn’t want plus-size women wearing them (you can read an excellent article about the whole thing here). These were the things I brought up when people asked me why I didn’t like Hollister. But then I asked myself – if that’s true Holly, why do you go in American Apparel, king of the pornagrahic up-skirt campaign shot, who don’t even employ women with short hair? Why do you go in Topshop, with their angora rabbit wool and uniformly size -00 mannequins? When you think about those things, Hollister’s limited sizing seems forgivable. So why do you make excuses for other shops, but not for Hollister?

I realised, much to my chagrin, that essentially it was a question of branding. I am not the kind of girl that I thought would shop in Hollister. I thought I would hate the infamous perfume they spray on all the clothes, but instead I loved it, and bought one. It smells like watermelons and California and now when people hug me they breathe in my hair as if I’m a salty-skinned surfer goddess just emerged from the sea, and they tell me I smell amazing. But I simply didn’t want to see myself as a Hollister girl, which when you think about it, isn’t ethical of me at all, but just very, very pretentious. 

Take American Apparel, for example. They seem to cater for the Tumblr-cool hipster crowd, and everything about their image seems made for an Instagram-ing vegan feminist like me. But that’s just their image. Like that ridiculously unnecessary “rustic” chalk board in Starbucks, it’s all just for show. Due to all this misleading branding and the real company policies that I find on Twitter, I’m running out of places to shop. I don’t go in H&M because too many of their things have disintegrated in the washing machine. I hate shopping in Primark, as it’s no fun checking your purchases for SOS markings after a shopping trip. Which leaves what? Jane Norman? Looks like it’s back to charity shops again.

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