I swam competitively for 7 years as a young girl. But by the time I hit puberty, I was burnt out and more interested in music, fashion, and something that wasn’t quite so monotonous as daily swim practice. So I joined my high school soccer team. All the cool girls were on the team, and I wanted in. But it wasn’t my scene. I wasn’t that good at soccer, and was sitting on the sidelines often. The whole thing made me uncomfortable and I felt like I wasn’t using the best of my abilities. More importantly, I realized that I liked the autonomy of being on the swim team way better than this new team sport. My intrigue with soccer was over after one season, and I moved on.
Many years later, I still think about that experience. Why did I waste my time being on the soccer team? I had done hours of practice, then the games would come along, and I was simply a spectator. Sure enough, this was the way of the sport. But in life, the sidelines happen often. Sometimes by default, sometimes on purpose.
With my career, I sidelined myself for the first time in 2006 after I closed my first ME & Blue clothing boutique in Philadelphia and moved to L.A. I needed to be a spectator to other boutiques while I got my life straight and allowed myself space to move to the next thing. Sure enough, after a few years, I threw myself back into the same boutique game in a new, refreshing way.
Then again, in 2015, I did the same thing. I decided to sideline myself from my boutique business. This time it was in a different arena... my life contained a husband who worked across the country, a young daughter, and a body (and aching back) that was in desperate need of a rest. And here I am. It’s 2017 and I’m still sitting on the sidelines, watching the games unfold. Except this time, it’s like the rules have changed mid season and nobody knows what’s going on. To use my favorite new (naughty) word. The fashion game is a SH*Tshow. The industry is turned upside down from the popularity of minimalism, capsule wardrobes, fashion fatigue, and the idea that experiences hold more value that all of those clothes in your closet. Add in the way that people are increasingly buying online vs. in stores and my head starts to spin.
So what’s a gal to do who has lived and breathed fashion since a young kid? I see this time as not wasted, but a time to refuel. I listen to a lot of podcasts (hey there, “Pop Fashion”), read a ton of articles, and am trying to understand the new arena of fashion and the retail industry as a whole. And frankly... how, when, or even IF I want to enter back into the game. The rules have changed. And I can either throw myself back in, or go onto another field altogether. Maybe even create my own game and do both.
That’s where my art comes in. It’s been a way to put my creative energies into something, ANYTHING different. I find myself still studying the constant fashion trends and even translating them into my art. I look online for retail spaces both here and back in LA. But now, it’s more for entertainment as I’m living in London and getting the lay of the land for both the fashion AND the art industries in this new city.
What feels fresh to me now is something that makes me nervous, but feels unchartered. And that’s creating art. I find myself way more excited to buy a new tube of paint or a beautiful pen than I do when I visit fabric trade shows. So for now, I’m continuing to sit on the fashion sidelines and considering my next play. Carefully. Very, VERY carefully.
It’s a funny place to be, having been in fashion and now on the sidelines wondering what the next sustainable career or even way to make a living looks like is in fashion. Storefronts are in a jam figuring out how to capture attention and realizing that the days of destination shopping are at its lasts. Such a good topic with no real landing yet. You and i are in this together, though. Love the post!
I am not sure how I stumbled upon you tonight M.E. but I am glad I did. For the record, I am Theresa from Mother’s Work days in Philly. You are right the world has changed. I know you will figure your next adventure out soon and it will no doubt be as magical as you are. By the way, your daughter is adorable, congrats!
The “sidelines” brought you back to Creativity. That’s where you seem to flourish. From what I gather from your post, there’s a new name for fashion and you’re going to create it yourself. Hugs from a long ago Philly connection- Felicia