Soup or Sale

Apologies for our unexpected sabbatical from threadbared! For my part, journal article revisions, rogue or maybe just lost TAs, teaching, and drawn-out faculty meetings about departmental minutiae left me with no time for a lot of things including posting. But the semester is in in its final two weeks! So, taking Mimi’s optimistic cue of things to come, I wanted to mention for now that a pop-up retail store called The 1929 (124 Mott St. in Little Italy) is giving away soup and coffee to shoppers.

I haven’t visited the store yet (will swing by this week on my way to the Alexander Wang sample sale) but Daily News describes the store this way: “The street level store is decked out with racks of snazzy dresses, pants and tops by independent designers. The basement level has been transformed into an art and performance space by night and a spot where hungry shoppers, or even passersby, can pick up a free bowl of soup and coffee during the day.”

The community organizing and activist spirit of this soup kitchen/retail store is intentional – Aaron Genuth, the store’s manager, says the owners were inspired by President Elect Obama. Levi Okunov, part owner of The 1929, notes too, “Fashion has always been something for the rich. Who said it can’t be for the masses? We want people to come here, have a bowl of soup, try on some clothing and maybe check out the artwork downstairs.”

I’ll be interested to see how this new incarnation of fashion-as-therapy-for-the-masses develops. It’s clearly more grassroots than the recent fashion industry-led “cheap-chic” movements which offered up capsule collections by luxury designers like Vera Wang, Phillip Lim, Doo-ri Chung, and Proenza Schouler at mass retail stores like Kohl’s, The Gap, and Uniqlo as a post-9/11 emotional and economic salve. But the idea that The 1929 is “a place where fashionistas and the down-and-out soon could be rubbing shoulders” is too glib. While the recession affects everyone, some of the “down-and-out” are cushioned by their fat assets.


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