TODAY, after meeting a friend in lower Manhattan, I decided to saunter a few blocks to Chinatown. Although this was not my first time in the neighborhood, I realized that by viewing the area through a different lens, I was able to experience ultimate bargain shopping, for a wide selection of items, from T-shirts, sunglasses, perfumes, cellphone cases to knock-off designer items. What really captured my attention however, were the many ways in which different forms of art unfolded as I browsed past the store fronts, sidewalks and hidden nooks.
SOME OF THE ART I DISCOVERED
I couldn't help but notice how ubiquitous the Bob Marley face has become (pictured on the T- Shirt above). I'm especially proud to see how his legacy has lived on. The legend...... singer, songwriter, messenger and teacher....the man who brought Reggae music to the mainstream and worldwide stage from the confines of some inner city Jamaican communities. Based on the arrangement of the T- shirts, you'll also notice that the "Obama" face is next to Bob Marley's. What fascinates me is how cultural, social and political issues can be craftily displayed through art. I could go on for eons talking about The Simpson's (pictured above) as a fixture in the American living room, but I digress. Regardless of your political stance, Barack Obama, the first African American president of the United States, is a symbol of hope and change in his own right. His role in the White House is one that will forever change the landscape of American politics. I strongly feel that he is one of the fulfillments of Martin Luther King's Dream and a true embodiment of the "American dream."
MORE OF MY SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Impulse shopping isn't always a bad thing. I do it pretty much every day (one of my guiltiest "guilty pleasures"), so although I had no prior intentions of shopping, I couldn't resist a pair of leopard frame sunglasses to sustain my serious obsession with leopard and other animal prints. I also added a cute black scarf to my acquisitions. A fashion piece embellished with strategically placed slits giving it a layered appearance. One of my coolest purchases was an iPhone case with a diagram of the Manhattan subway map covering the exterior. Navigating NYC just got easier. No need to launch the Subway app anymore. It's now easily accessible just by looking at my cell phone case.
Other attention grabbers were some very cool clothing designs I observed while browsing inside Necessary Clothing. Their layout was visually appealing which is always a huge plus when shopping. The studs on the hat pictured above are a bold addition to such a simple piece. Nice way to spruce up a plain accessory.
Your visit to NYC is not complete without getting your portrait drawn by a sidewalk artist. In addition, you can get an artistic rendition of your caricature which is sure to elicit a whimsical reaction upon viewing the outcome. If you look closely at the above picture, you'll also notice the collection of African art that I discovered. Check out the little giraffes meticulously carved from wood. The beauty of art is that it serves as a useful tool to tell stories without actually speaking, and to showcase different cultural and historical elements. Masks are often worn while performing certain African rituals as well as during social and religious ceremonies. They are also known to have a symbolic representation and are an indicator of social class and status. All of this going on in Chinatown? Once again, I digress. The picture to the far right shows some interesting belt buckles...."Image is nothing, thirst is everything." This time I will let the art speak for itself.
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD!
Do you spot a knock-off? If someone tries to sell you a Louis Vuitton bag for say $60, chances are, it is not an authentic product. In fact you just scored yourself an amazing knock-off/dupe/bootleg. If the original item generally retails for $500 and upwards, why do you think that something with this price tag would be authentic? The Versace gold chain may be visually appealing at first, but because it glitters, it doesn't mean that it is gold or even close to gold. I had a vendor who boldly tried to sell me a pair of Gucci sunglasses for $25. When I pointed out that they aren't real Gucci sunglasses, he readily displayed the Gucci logo on the frames. Our heated debate continued for a few more minutes until he conceded by saying "Okay but $25 is still a good deal for these glasses." I briskly headed for the exit but he wasn't one to "throw in the towel" so easily, his next offer soon followed. "Oh I'll give it to you for $20," but I kept on walking, "Give me $10 then" he pleaded. At that point, my level of disinterest in his proposals had already skyrocketed, so I continued to embark on my jolly way.
I love colored wooden earrings and the "Rasta" ones pictured above immediately seized my attention. There's no shortage on the array of items you can find while shopping in Chinatown, from earrings, paintings, sunglasses, to hookah pipes. Where else can you get such assortment? Don't delay, the ultimate Chinatown shopping experience needs to be added to your to-do list and promptly checked to indicate completion.