When I first spoke with the editors at Four Pins about writing an Op-Ed column for their site, I was immediately thrilled at the prospect. I may lack a lot of things – tact, respect for my elders, a general understanding of what it means to drink socially – but strong opinions I have in abundance. And yet, as I sat down to write this, my first of what will hopefully be many opinion columns on the site, I found myself at a loss for inspiration. What could I write that could set the tone for this column, that was timely and topical and would allow me to pontificate coherently on the current state of the fashion industry?
And then I found it: a story about Dress Barn. Like beefy, Midwestern manna from Heaven, WWD sprinkled a story on my Twitter feed that Dress Barn, the national retailer known for “selling casual, career and special-occasion apparel and accessories at value prices” was considering a name change due to unfortunate allusions some might possibly make with shopping in a barn.
I suddenly had so many things to say. First and foremost was the fact that the owners of Dress Barn were only considering changing the name. Maybe it’s ok to associate customers with livestock -- I mean, I’m no consumer psychologist. Not only does the modern professional woman have to grapple with making 70 cents to the male dollar, but she also needs to buy her “career apparel” from a place called Dress Barn. Murphy Brown never had to deal with this shit.
Here in New York, the nation’s capital of cutting edge, sophisticated fashion, we have a store called Skunkfunk.
This then led me to a running laundry list of men’s stores that could use a little titular freshening up, too.
Of course, there’s Men’s Wearhouse. It’s a painfully awful pun for starters. And if Dress Barn is tailor made for ladies built like a brick house (made of really, really heavy bricks), then Men’s Wearhouse sounds like something for the types of guys who are removed from their homes on the back of flat bed trucks as local news crews stand by.
Likewise, there’s the circus sideshow act of Rochester Big & Tall and the Craigslist M4M post of Casual Male XL. There’s Superdry, which I’m fairly certain is also a deodorant.
Here in New York, the nation’s capital of cutting edge, sophisticated fashion, we have a store called Skunkfunk. We have South Korean import Who.A.U., which, interestingly enough, is what my Korean bodega owner yells at me whenever I enter his store. There’s also Seasonal Whispers – I’ll be damned if that’s not an emporium for feminine hygiene products – and my personal favorite, Fisch for the Hip. No nerds allowed here, just so we’re all on the same page.
If Dress Barn does sell the farm and move on, maybe it will inspire some of these other guys to do the same. After all, Dress Barn’s other name of choice, according to WWD, is Roz & Alli and I’ve always found my middle aged aunts from Long Island to be quite the trendsetters.
Steve Dool is a writer based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter.