LEAF ARBUTHNOT spends some serious downtime in the little corner of California right here in Cambridge.
Hollister has a ‘store’ in the Grand Arcade – well, really more of a beach hut – and it’s awesome. You walk in and feel cool. It’s too dark, the air is stodgy with perfume, the music is pumpin’ antisocially loudly, but you’re thinking: “My happy place! Here you are at last! Gather me into your strong, tanned arms, friend!”
Of course the shop is ridiculous. We are not in California. My legs are pasty, not golden; my hands are not scuffed from heavy surfing; I am not constantly aware of the presence of sand in my shoes. Flip-flops are really only necessary abroad, where Hollister doppelgangers are on perpetual sale anyway. Buying a Hollister hoodie just doesn’t buy attractiveness. The brand promotes all the wrong things – superficiality over authenticity, shells over kernels, mindless optimism over considered pessimism.
The shop is a haven! The clothes themselves aren’t that great, but since when must a shop be judged on whether you actually like what it sells? Hollister dunks you into a plastic world of bullshit fantasy; it’s a full-body immersion that glories in its own self-indulgence and presumption. They’ve got a surfboard in there for goodness’ sake! The shop assistants are hot (although also very cold), everything is beautifully folded; “It wasn’t me” by Shaggy came on, which made my day, and quite possibly my life.
Moreover, if you actually want to get something, the prices are alright. A standard Hollister sweatshirt is £20; sweat-shorts for “bettys” are £18; trunks for “dudes” are £36. It’s less expensive than Abercrombie and the designs are simpler and more laid-back. Some of the £32 perfumes are actually pretty nice-smelling.
So, if revision is bitchin’ you round, or if you’re feeling that general Cambridge-oppression, hotfoot it to Hollister. Initial cynicism will melt into love and goo once you’ve chilled for fifteen minutes on the armchairs in the hang-out area upstairs.