Sunday, October 18, 2009

Spaghetti, seams, toilet paper, and career plans

Before work today I ran into Target to pick up a few rolls of toilet paper and boxes of pasta. Later at work, as I was noshing on some popcorn (also from Target), I began chuckling as I thought about how my shopping practices have changed recently. A couple months ago if I found myself with some extra time while in Target I probably would have gone to the electronics department to see if any DVDs I wanted were on sale. I looked at no DVDs today, but instead spent my extra time in the women’s wear department. I was not looking to buy women’s clothing for myself. Perhaps I would look quite fetching in a dress, but I have no intention of finding out for sure.

I closely examined a few shirts to see how they were constructed. In class I have learned to use straight stitch and overlock machines, and we have discussed cover stitch machines. I was able to identify all the stitches and seams I saw today, although there are a number of them I do not yet know how to make. I do not know if I will use the cover stitch this semester, but I hope I do. Every garment I saw today had at least one seam or hem done with a cover stitch. I suppose it may look a little odd for me to be devoting attention to the wrong side of women’s shirts; I hope nobody noticed me.

In addition to garment construction I also looked at the styles and designs available. I was not impressed. I am not saying I could do better; I cannot – yet. I just do not think that the apparel offered by Target is particularly attractive. The building in which I work is across the street from Target’s corporate headquarters, and more than half the office space in my building is leased to Target. I am consistently amused to note that hardly any corporate Target employees wear clothing from Target. It is reassuring to see that Target’s employees share my view of their company's clothing, although obviously there are a lot of people who like these styles. In a five block stretch of Nicollet Ave. in downtown Minneapolis one can find Target, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, and Saks. I see people shopping at Macy’s, but I would never describe the store as crowded. Neiman Marcus and Saks usually seem empty. Target is always busy.

Like every other design student I dream of being the next big-name designer with a line at Saks, but I do not know if that is possible. I also wonder if it is a smart goal to have. How many $40 dresses does Target sell for every $400 dress at Macy’s or $4,000 dress at Saks? Where is the larger profit, one $4,000 dress, ten $400 dresses, or one hundred $40 dresses? How much of that goes to the designer? Target clothing is designed by committee, but all the designers on that committee have a good job with a regular and decent paycheck. Jobs at Target and other similar companies are open to recent design school graduates. Designers with products at Saks must first spend years building a name and reputation. For every designer with a dress at Saks there are hundreds working at Starbucks during the day and designing on their own time at night.

It is far too early for me to early for me to make decisions about my career plans – I have not yet even started at UW-Stout – but it is never too early to start thinking about these things. I would love to be rich and famous, but not being poor and unemployed is what matters most. A good job doing something I enjoy would be enough for me, but I will never stop dreaming of greatness. I have a few years to decide what I want to do. I hope that by the time I finish at Stout I will have some better answers. For now I will just keep sewing and dreaming.

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