Sunday, May 16, 2004

Hipsters and homophobes make strange bedfellows.

Was I the last person the planet to find out that Urban Outfitters President Richard Haynes has given over $13,000 to Senator Rick Santorum and his PACs over the past few years? (Article links here and here.) Suddenly those four pairs of pants and handful of shirts that I got from UO feel so...tainted. I'd expect this kind of nonsense from Wal-Mart or the Gap, but suddenly my underlying suspicion of Urban Outfitter's hipper-than-thou capitalization on disgruntled apathetics is proving founded.

(For those of you who reside under a rent-controlled rock with your fingers glued into your ear canals and an acute allergic reaction to the internet, Rick Santorum is a Republican senator from Pennsylvania who has made himself famous by denouncing the evils of homosexuality, abortion, premarital sex, and single-parent upbringings. Santorum is the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.)

I've never been great at being a political consumer. For all my tough talk, I knowingly purchase clothing that was most likely sewn by malnourished Indonesian children. I eat fruits that have been treated with groundwater-polluting pesticides. I eat vegetables that were probably harvested by underpaid, overworked immigrants who don't have the language skills or political clout to resist their conditions. I even worked at McDonald's for two months, and was an exemplary employee at that.

In spite of my aforementioned hypocrisies, however, I do my best to correct at least a few of society's ills via my consumption habits. Just because you can't do everything doesn't mean that you shouldn't do something. And I consider Rick Santorum to be a societal ill. Finally I have a tangible excuse not to suffer through the overpriced sense of inferiority I feel when I walk into UO.

What's hipper than hip, and significantly hipper than Urban Outfitters, then? Wearing actual vintage clothing. It's cheaper, usually of higher quality, and doesn't directly contribute to sweat shop labor. Buying used clothing is similar to adopting a kid; there are already so many unwanted belts and tshirts out there, it's your civic duty to bring them into your home and show them what real love can look like. (The difference is that once you no longer like skinny belts or realize that lime green isn't your best color, you can reintroduce your used clothing into the adoption cycle. Kids, on the other hand, are significantly more difficult to pawn off once their novelty has worn thin.)

Some great places to buy used clothing near campus include Buffalo Exchange on Telegraph, the Goodwill at Shattuck and University, and Out of the Closet further down University near Sacramento Street. These old garments will get a second chance in life, you save some cash, you don't directly create more demand for abusive labor practices or the environmental resources that go into producing and shipping new clothing, and you don't support Rick Santorum.


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