While reading Sze Tsung Leong’s “…And then there was shopping” I was immediately intrigued by the amount of shops versus churches, universities, hospitals, museums, etc. Having this information put so bluntly really struck me as interesting as it created a visual in which shopping literally takes the lead among all other cultural and behavioral aspects of humans. I have always been very much aware of the so called “shop-a-holics” but until now, I had not realized what an influence shopping had on a bigger level. Shopping seems to have set the bar not only as a dominant activity, but also as a cultural reflection of society. The things that one choses to surround themselves with generally represent the kind of person one is. Once upon a time, a person who visited various museums around the world, and could afford an education at a private university was automatically assumed to be a cultured person. Someone that was well travelled, relatively wealthy, and had a certain recognized level of education. Now, a person of the same background can prove their social status by the shirt on their back. The first example I related this with was actually from New York City.. tourists.
Having grown up outside of the United States there is one particular situation which struck me as intriguing. Apparently, it is not cool to wear Abercrombie and Fitch once you are past middle school in the States. However, in Europe, Abercrombie and Fitch is sold to a completely different crowd ranging from kids to teenagers to adults. It is very common to see women of a certain social group wearing Abercrombie and Fitch in Europe. The reason for this difference is because before Abercrombie was available in Milan and London, owning an article of clothing from that store and wearing it showed others that the person wearing it had traveled to the States. This automatically gave one the status of having traveled far, and a trip to the States in order to go shopping is not cheap, so that meant this person must be of a higher social class.
Tourists mostly come to NYC with the intentions of shopping. Shopping is the new metric system used to evaluate class levels and hierarchies.