THANK GOD for Topshop. Not that there is any divine intervention involved with the high street retailer but I would like to thank a higher power for its existence.
Over the years men have charged head first into many battles without fear of death or failure. Bravely tackling anything that dares to stand in between them and their objective, men care not for consequences, seeking out their target with reckless abandon and steely determination. In short there is no goal a man cannot achieve… unless that goal involves shopping for clothes.
What is it about being approached by a salesperson in a clothing store that turns men into spineless whimpering children?
Shop assistant: “Can I help you with anything?”
Man: “No, no, no, I’m just looking” (before quickly turning around and running out of the shop).
An Australian man’s fear of clothes shopping is never more evident then when entering one of these “male boutiques” in which the average male feels about as comfortable as English batsmen facing Shane Warne on a spin friendly pitch.
There is a reason these shops always seem so empty, men are petrified of going in.
The personalised nature of these stores is what makes men most nervous. For many men, one of the most difficult sentences to say is “I don’t know” which makes shopping for clothes one of the scariest activities man can engage in. For every item of clothing we intend on purchasing we are likely to have to reveal our ignorance several times in one form or another.
Shop assistant: “What are you looking for today?”
Man: “Umm, I don’t really know, sort of just browsing?”
Shop assistant: “Are you buying something for a specific occasion?”
Man: “Maybe, I’ve got this event coming up but I don’t know what the dress code is.”
Shop assistant: “What size are you?”
Man: “I don’t know (said trying to look at the tag on the shirt he’s wearing).”
Australian Men can handle talking one on one with a salesperson if they’re selling us something we understand. Someone selling us a car, sporting goods, some hardware or your local butcher telling you about today’s special cut is the sort of shopping banter we enjoy. If an attractive female, or worse, a well groomed, suited and booted bloke begins talking to us about haute couture, hem lines and this season’s must have espadrilles, all bets are off.
But in London, thanks to stores like Topshop, H&M and Next, Australian men can shop without fear of being intimidated by their lack of fashion knowledge. With a hardware store styled layout, these shops allow us men to find the section we want, find the product we want, try it on (if we’re feeling adventurous), pay for the item and exit before the panic attack kicks in. With salespeople who are merely there to process the purchase or hand us a number in case we forget how many items we’ve taken into the change room, there is limited chance of humiliation at the hands of a fashionista salesperson.
And if you’re reading this thinking, “but sales assistants provide a useful service; what if you take it home and it doesn’t fit properly or it doesn’t match the rest of your wardrobe?” then you are probably a lady. And even if it doesn’t fit properly, then we’ve just snagged a brand new addition to our “painting/mowing the lawn/jogging” clothing range and if it doesn’t match your wardrobe, well you shouldn’t try and match your clothes to a piece of furniture anyway. That’s just silly.