CULTURAL CURRENCY x BIRKENSTOCKS
(Psst! I’ve moved!)
Let’s start with a premise: The goods you buy (the ones you wear, that adorn your home, the car you drive — anything that can be discussed with a group of gal pals over brunch) present a definition of your self within the social contexts of economic and cultural hierarchy. You choose to place yourself within the stratosphere of this complex “lifestyle” web, and can therefore choose to buy more exclusive things that associate you with a different cultural class than you are currently at, or perceived at.
Simple. We all know this to be true on some level. That’s why trends exist. It has been said that women dress for other women, not for men… when it can equally be said that women dress for other people in the know than for simply looking “good”. Good is not good enough. If we all dressed to flatter our bodies, I daresay we’d find the perfect silhouette, color and fabrication and stick with that from day to day.
But we are finicky. We covet novelty and at times a little romance, a little weirdness, a little nostalgia. Which brings me to contemplate my recent purchase of two pairs of Birkenstocks. One nude patent leather Arizonas (x J.Crew) and the other all-black-everything “Montereys” that were on sale Stateside at both Nordstrom & Nastygal for no longer than it took Sophia Amoruso to coif her bangs in the morning.
Did I buy these two particularly elusive pairs to fit in? Or did my feet feel as though these Birkenstocks reflected the spiritual and physical understanding of myself?
I like to think that Birkenstocks’ cultural currency is sizable at this point: the “Birk cray craze” has peaked, but shows little signs of waning. They are the double-strapped favorite-child of comfy #normcore and sportif minimalism, which to me are the two movements in fashion that started out as anti-cultural currency.
Normcore allowed the wearer to slip into a no-frills persona that blurred the reading of one’s cultural standing. Everything was platonic and accessible. Minimalism seemed to be the same — albeit more elegant — as the clothing didn’t so much as enhance the wearer, but allowed the self to be more pronounced. Cultural currency under minimalism shifted from the clothes one wore to the taste in other things that were, hopefully, less materialistic (I.e a focus on the body, on character, on taste in actual culture etc.)
I will say that had I no consideration of how these two pairs of Birkenstocks granted me the specific cultural currency that I wanted, I would’ve went with one pair. Suede. Zurichs. Taupe, no questions asked.
But look at me now… two pairs in and am I cozy enough in my purported cultural and consumeristic niche?
These are just thoughts I battle with while trying to reduce the volume of things I own (WHICH ARE ALL CULTURAL CURRENCY. Have I said that combination of words enough for you? Cultural Currency. Cultural currency. Clitoral buoyancy. One more time: Cultural currency) and validating my fashion savviness for my own gain. How do you balance it all?
Just a reminder, I’ve moved.