For $20.80 you can theoretically buy a lot. 2.5 packs of cigarettes, a movie ticket and a small popcorn to a shit film, 19 cup o’noodles, half a tank of gas, a box of condoms and lubricant, almost 80 items at the 99 cent store if they’re all packs of gum, and so on. And now, for only a meager $20.80 it seems you can buy the “secret weapon” that I’ve been hiding in my closet.

A pair of Forever 21 shoes….. 71365777-01-171365777-01Wait, wait…. the shoes pictured above are NOT my secret weapon.. In fact, mine really look like this…. (the photo below is respectfully borrowed from the internet)

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A pair of gorgeous Fendi heels. What can I say, I love them. If I lived in any other metropolitan city, I’d be wearing them all the time. But alas, I live in LA, where you embrace flip flops and Chuck Taylors as much as you embrace, fake bake and waiter/actors. But I digress.

Back to the shoes..  this post all started because last night my sister had proudly announced to me that she had bought my shoes for only $20.80. My eyebrow cocked up and I gave her a quizzical stare. “$20.80? How?” Her eyes grew big as she gleefully replied, “Forever 21.” Annoyance is the only polite word I can muster up to describe that particular moment. But wait, it gets better. Because shortly after her announcement, we went out dancing, and I, of course, wore my shoes. I greeted her friend and she immediately greeted me with “Oh, did you buy the Forever 21 shoes as well?” No, I hadn’t. I ended up leaving the club that night with hot wax spilt all over my jeans and lovely shoes by drunk lesbians that wanted me to dance with them. All in all, a crap evening.

But this is the way of fashion.

It’s slow vs. fast with slow usually suffering due to the tonnage and turnover rate of chain stores like Forever 21, H&M and Topshop. And slow fashion suffers again because of fast fashion’s ability to steal inspiration from my shoes and countless pairs before that and sell them at a deeply discounted price…. But what of quality over quantity? Fendi vs Forever 21? Who wins in the end, me or my sister?

There are few things women willing admit to. How much they weigh, how old they are, how tall they are, how many pairs of the same jeans they have in their closet, and especially, how much they spend to look they way they do. I, Joy Yoon, will now go on record. Currently, I weigh 120, I’m 30, I’m usually 5’8 1/2″, but 5’9″ on a good day, I use to have 75 pairs of jeans but have given most away (you get a lot of jeans for free when you work in fashion), and in order for me to look the way I do I’ll leave the math to you. Add up the cost of a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, shampoo, condition, lotion, mascara and lip balm and you’ll have your answer. As for clothes, its another complicated equation entirely. But if we were to focus just on the shoes…. they cost more than my rent.

I know guys reading this are assuming that this is very typical of a woman.. spend all her money on shoes. And maybe you’re right. I can’t defend my sex, frankly, because I think the majority of them are idiots. What I can do is defend myself. I once read that women have more memorable relationships with their shoes than they do with people, that finding the perfect shoe is as difficult as finding the perfect man. The latter may seem true to most (this is a perfect shoe whereas the man is still missing), but thankfully, my most memorable relationships have been with animate objects. This shoe encompasses what I need. Design, style, comfort, and longevity. I look at my purchases and apply the wear/rate scenario. How much the item costs divided by how many times I think I’ll wear it.. giving me a flat rate of how much I’d pay per use. These shoes have an excellent wear/rate ratio. It’s like buying a well-made coat. Its got to have the ability to last a lifetime and never look dated. Therefore, this is a no-brainer as a purchase.

But wait, I’m sure there’s another comment coming…”You already own a pair of black shoes, how many pairs do you need?” In my case.. a few. Just like that streetwear guy you know in his mid-30′s who has more pairs of Nikes than he knows what to do with and can’t shower in his own bathroom because he uses his bathtub as storage space, and has actually never worn any of these shoes more than once or not at all.. (Chad, I’m talking about you), I obviously need more than one pair of black heels. Its inevitable. After all, 5 inch stilleto heels aren’t ideal for church.

When I go shoe shopping, I usually go alone or with one friend. You know the one. The girlfriend who will tell you straight to your face that you look like a hooker on skid row rather than that sophisticated professional you imagine yourself to be as you stare at your feet in those deceptive department store mirrors. This past holiday sale season, I went with the wrong person, a guy friend, and ended up buying three pairs of shoes.. ironically, all at full price. I don’t know why I did it. I didn’t need them. I certainly couldn’t afford all of them, but yet, robotically I handed over my credit card and walked out of the store on a strange shopping high. A week later as I went through my purchases I realized something and it shocked me. The reason I bought the shoes was because of the other women there. It’s not an envy thing for me, I don’t buy shoes for that reason, because that reason is retarded. The day I went shopping the store was filled with women grabbing shoe upon shoe and I got caught up in the madness. I felt as if I was a lion in Africa and the shoes were lionesses in heat. Strange shoe shopping pheromones were everywhere, and I succumbed to them. The morning after my revelation, I went back to the stores to return my purchases and was stalwart that I would not yield to another pair. And again, I was faced with the same sensation taking over me, but instead of browsing, I stayed still and watched. Women grabbing shoes as if to devour them, racing around the store looking for more as their arms quickly filled up with pieces of patched up leather, studs, and glitter. It was girls gone wild, with shoes. I signed my return slip and quickly walked out deeply inhaling the sweet smell of smog to clear my head and drove home.

There is nothing wrong with buying what you want. If your purchase makes you happy and you can afford it, then by all means. For me, I choose to spend my money according to my wants and needs and not anyone else’s. I prefer quality over quantity. I prefer spending my money traveling the world than having a car in L.A. (I walk and take the metro). I wanted these Fendi shoes, therefore, I bought them, done deal. My sister wanted my shoes and got a copy for significantly cheaper. Monetarily I’m currently the loser, but in the end, the time, the craftmanship, and everything that goes into my shoe makes me the winner. I look at her shoe with its faux velvet platform and stretched out mesh panels and know that her shoe cannot compare to mine. And though people may assume that my shoes are knock-offs, for now, I’ll just have to deal with it.

In the long run, my shoes will last. And ten years from now, if they went head to head on eBay, I’m sure my Fendi would K-O the competition. Slow and steady win the race…