There's a lot about working in the fashion industry that they don't tell you. For one, samples smell like absolute shit when they return from production. I mean, we are talking major odor issues here. Two, some of the absolute best pieces you might design were actually designed by someone else decades prior (case in point: Supreme's "FUCK" jacket for Spring 2013, which is actually just a complete knock-off of Lip Service's "FUCK" jacket from the 1980s). The above jacket is a Kill City re-interpretation of this badass vintage Tunnel Vision moto jacket:
"Well, fuck." Jen, the womenswear designer, hissed at the bone-colored jacket lying on her desk. "They sure fucked this shit up." The sample, fresh from the factory, seemed to taint the Kill City design loft with its gratuitous inaccuracy. I peered up form my desk, over rows of garment racks, towards Jen's general (Jen-eral?) direction. "What's wrong?" I called half-heartedly. "This jacket sample is so wrong," she muttered (mostly to herself), shaking her head. I leapt up from my desk to shop the damage. "Oh yeah?" I darted around racks of Spring 2013 towards the destroyed fall sample, my eyes alit with the power of positive thinking. "Is it baby-sized?" I asked. "Is it awesome? Is it mine now?"
"WHOAAAA!" I gasped. It was awesome. "Something is wrong with this?!" I asked incredulously, jaw halfway to my knees.
"Well for one thing," she replied, unamused by my ardor, "It was supposed to be oxblood."
I snatched the jacket off of the table and jerked it onto my body, running over to the mirror. "It fits!" I shrieked in delight. "Oh my god, it fits my freaky child body. Jen, Jen, Jen! How do I make it mine?!"
Jen turned away from me, disgusted in tandem by the jacket's blatant wrongness and by my obnoxious display of greed. "Go ask Drew," she said, waiving me off in the direction of Drew, the Kill City owner, who is just the type of OCD workaholic who cares very much about things like how much employees pay for damaged samples.
I scurried manically across the narrow platform bridge that connects the Kill City design loft to his "office". "Office" is used loosely here. Drew's "office" is a spacious open platform loft with one wall and no doors, featuring a cluttered corner desk with red plastic hand chairs on the visitors' side, a pipe-rimmed DIY white board and a scarcely used conference table, an impractically-low coffee table covered in 1970s punk rock memorabilia including handwritten letters to Drew from Ian MacKaye, books laid open on the floor with images of Axl Rose in original Lip Service garb from the 1980s, and an oversized toolbox full of supplies one would imagine better-suited for a carpenter than the owner of an apparel company. The wall is lined in oversized metal boards on which tee shirt designs are suspended with magnets.
"Drew! Drew! Drew!" I yell as I run up to him, more like an excited child coming home from a school field trip than an employee interrupting his day with random nonsense. His eyes are glued to his computer screen in an intense moment of work and he doesn't look up as I approach. "Jen got this sample and it's wrong and she won't use it but it fits me and I am in love with it probably more in love with it than I am most people or things in life really and I need to buy it now like right this second so you need to look at me -- eye contact now -- look at me -- to tell me how much this thing is because oh my god I need it -- are you looking you're not looking look now please." I breathe for the first time in what seems like five full minutes and he finally looks up.
"WHOA! What is that thing?!"
I narrow my eyes at him. "I just told you! Weren't you listening at all? It's a messed up sample and it's beautiful and glorious and it fits me and I'm going to buy it now so tell me how much!"
"Well what's wrong with it?" he asks, putting on his glasses.
"Pfft...damned if I know," I say, darting over to the mirror in his office to further admire the jacket. "It's the most perfect jacket in the world!" I twirl around to face him.
"You're right," he says, as I nod in agreement. "You're so right, in fact, that the jacket isn't going anywhere. Go take that back to Jen and tell her to make it in that color. That's her new sample."
My mouth and eyes widen into perfect Os. "B-b-but you can't do that! This is MINE now. Nobody wants it! It's all WRONG!"
"Well you wanted it," he says. "So it must not be that wrong." He gets up from his desk and marches towards the design loft, me following aghast in terror trying to comprehend the horror of the situation. "But it is wrong!" I plea. "It's terrible! It's a HORRIBLE jacket and Jen doesn't need it because who would buy it, really? I mean it's not even that good-looking! It's awful -- abysmal -- disgusting! So I should just take it!"
"No, I'm taking it," he replies, putting out his hand. I move in slow motion as I slip my arms out of the perfectly grommeted sleeves. My head hangs to the floor as I put the jacket into his outstretched hand. "When will I get to buy it?" I ask sullenly.
"Oh, don't look so bummed. You can buy it when sales is done with it...in like six months." He slapped the sample onto Jen's desk and walked away.
And there the sample sat, for days then weeks then months, mocking me with its perfect presence as I walked to and from my work station throughout the day.
"Hi, jacket," I would whisper, petting it gently. "I love you."
Then, one day, the jacket moved from Jen's desk onto the big metal magnet board in Drew's office. I ran towards it with wild joy. "Is my jacket done?!" I yelled at him. "Can I have my jacket now?!" "NO," he replied firmly. "And it's not your jacket. It's MY jacket."
"It doesn't even fit you!" I yelled back at him as I stomped back over the bridge.
Eventually, there came a day when the jacket did indeed become mine, at which point I ushered my good friend and work comrade Kali outside in the noonday sun to take photos of me wearing it in all of its glory.