Sunday, February 26, 2006

Shoe Palace – Tanforan

I went to high school with Cholas. They stood on the concrete benches that ran along the hallways, hair sprayed into stiff Ms, bra straps hanging out of white tank tops, dark Levi cords accessorized with navy blue canvas shoes and web belts. When it was cold, or perhaps, if the principal made them, they wore Pendleton shirts. The more femme girls wore babydoll tank tops, the smocked kind you used to be able to buy by the foot at the fabric store and turn into a top with one seam.

That was years ago. Now, the Latinas I see on a daily basis are more likely to shop at Forever 21 than the men’s department at Sears. If you want to see Chola style, you must be content to shop at Macy’s for the few bits of inspiration Gwen Stefani stole for her L.A.M.B collection. Where have all the Cholas gone? Is it a style that is no longer relevant? I used to think so, until this weekend, at Shoe Palace in the Tanforan Mall.

I was ogling the wall of youth-sized Nikes, (By the way, girls, youth sizes go up to 6.5, which is the same as a women’s 8.5, at nearly half the price.) when three girls in full Chola uniform walked in. Instead of cords, they wore Dickies, and their tank tops were much tighter and shorter, but they had the same unmistakable Chola hairdo, the same pencil-thin eyebrows and the same black plastic bracelets tied into intricate designs. They were all buying black Vans. It’s probably the closest they could get to the navy blue canvas shoes of the 80s.

If Chola-style is coming back, Tanforan mall, with it’s distinctive urban focus, is the place for it to happen. Shoe Palace is the perfect starting point. The clerks dress more hip hop than shop boy, all of the shoes are up-to-the minute teenage chic and the price is right. I bought a pair of Air Max Nikes for $80. Try doing that at Macy’s.

Tanforan Mall
San Bruno, CA 94066

Friday, February 10, 2006

Liberty - Oxford Circus

If you happen to be stuck in London with someone who does not appreciate shopping, Take him to Liberty of London. (Note my sexist use of the word “him.”) Liberty is a fantastic Tudor building that was built with the beams two ships. A couple of the nice architectural details include commemorative carvings honoring the Liberty employees who died in WWI & WWII. This should give you at lest an hour to shop, while your companion reads the memorials.

I love Liberty prints. Hankies, tote bags, anything remotely naff with a Liberty print on it, I own it. I get lots of compliments from librarians and well-heeled American grandmothers who happen to spot me blowing my nose or using a Liberty bag as a briefcase. The boutique on the first floor is devoted to these types of inexpensive (for Liberty) Liberty print gift items.

Of course Liberty print dress shirts are gorgeous and difficult, if not impossible, to find anywhere else, but it's not all prim and proper. Liberty stocks a nice range of art house labels for the fashion forward.

Regent Street
London W1
020 7734 1234

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Trouble at Target - Colma

I’m going to miss shopping at Target. Yes, I know it’s a big box store filled with crap made in China by exploited workers. It’s a guilty pleasure. I would never even think of shopping at the evil union buster WalMart, but is Target just as bad? Probably. I’m going to have to say good bye to my good buys on disposable fashion, even if it includes Fiorucci and Luella Bartley frocks.

I came to this resolve for purely selfish reasons. On a recent shopping trip to Target, my shopping buddy tried to return a tracksuit that he had buyer’s remorse on. It was, of course, in pristine condition, complete with original receipts. The over fastidious customer service manager wouldn’t let him return it. Of course I was there, sticking my big nose into something that wasn’t even my business. “Why not?”

“Because it wasn’t bought here.”

“What do you mean? Here’s the receipt. It says Target.”

“It wasn’t bought at this Target. This is sold at the Tanforan Target. We can’t resell it.”

“What,” I asked, getting shriller. “That’s only two freeway exits away. That’s ridiculous. It’s not like it came from a Target in New York.” After all, wasn’t that one on the points of shopping chain stores? Aren’t they all supposed to be equal? “Where’s the manager?” I asked.

“I am the manager.”

“Forget it,” said my friend. “I’m going into the mall. I can buy my stuff at Longs.” He left.

Of course I was not content to drop it and shop at Longs, after driving out of the city for my Target fix. I found another “manager” and asked for a customer comment card. “I’m never going to shop at Target again!!!” I wrote (note the explanation marks.). I left my full address, but haven’t received a reply yet; I’m sure I won’t.

5001 Junipero Serra Blvd
Colma, CA 94014