How far will you go for a dress?
Call me old fashioned but I've always been the kind of girl who enjoy shopping at shops - I like to feel the fabrics, try things on, check myself in the mirror. I love talking to sales girls, who always wear this smiley face that make me feel good, even though I'm well aware of the fact that they are waiting for me to take my money or credit card out of my wallet.
Last week, I did my window shopping routine in Causeway Bay not preparing to buy anything - I've just decluttered one-third of my wardrobe and I had no intention to add anything to my already crowded closet. I planned on to save the space of my closet for something more important in my life than clothes.
But this tulle maxi skirt caught my eyes. I've always been a fan of tutu, and I've always wanted a maxi skirt. So of course I'd like something rolling two into one, but somehow I never found the right one.
But there it was, hung right in front of me. The milky white tulle maxi skirt with a faint hint of vintage grey was calling me. It's light, elegant, stylish, and, well, a bit like dresses from fairy tale with a touch of street fashion.
I had to buy it, I said to myself quietly.
"How much is it?" I asked the friendly sales lady.
"HK$1,050. It's already 50 per cent off. It is from Korea." HK$1,050? Seriously. I wasn't in the market for a thousand dollar dress.
I left the shop with great disappointment, though still debating whether I should go back to buy the dress.
I began looking up images of tulle maxi skirt on my smartphone.
Awwwww....they are so beautiful. I seriously really desperately wanted one.
Then I stumbled across an image of a tulle maxi skirt that looked almost exactly like the one I saw at the Causeway Bay shop.
It was from Taiwan-based online shop Dagogo (http://dagogo.tw), which was selling the dress at, NTW1,500 - about HK$350.
I immediately click on the link to this online shop, hoping to find a way to ask if they would ship it to Hong Kong.
But the only way I could get an immediate response was through LINE - I had to have instant communication.
Email seemed taking too long and shopping was always about being impulsive.
So I installed LINE, contacted the shop, and the shop owner said they would ship to Hong Kong, and it would cost something around HK$400!
So what happened with the other HK$600? If this shop in Taiwan was only asking for HK$350, this means out of the HK$1,050, 60 per cent of the money I pay would go to rent and overheads.
Okay I wouldn't mind the overhead costs and salary for the sales lady as I think she totally deserved it.
Seriously. I pay enough rent and I'm done with paying any extra penny to property developers that have been sucking the blood out of citizens of Hong Kong. They were not making our city a better place to live but instead, they took advantage of our desperation for space. Eventually the high rent killed the best small local shops which once made Hong Kong a place of interesting street culture. This of course deeply impacted artistic and creative productions, which required large spaces. A number of artists, musicians and designers struggle with finding affordable studio spaces to continue producing works. The failure of the factory buildings revitalisation scheme is a great example.
But more importantly, high rent kills our spirit to take risks and be adventurous with our lives - many of us were stuck with jobs we didn't like simply because we were so afraid of not being able to pay the rent.
So now it's a matter of principle - it was not that I'm unwilling to pay a thousand dollars. It was because this was a rip-off and unjust!
OK! I will take it!
"But how can you pay? The easiest way to pay is to transfer money to my Alipay account."
I didn't have an Alipay account, which is China's version of PayPal. I never shopped online outside of Hong Kong and anything else besides stuff for my darling cat Prince.
But for the sake of the dress, I installed Alipay. And I went to 7-11 to buy top up vouchers.
It wasn't as easy as I thought though. Alipay was really complicated and the vouchers I bought couldn't not top up my account. I browsed the Alipay homepage but it was frustrating. Why did people invent a payment platform that is so not user friendly?
I cried for help, asking around if anyone could rescue me. I seriously wanted the dress.
Finally a colleague helped me transferred money to the Taiwanese online shop's Alipay account. Four days later, the dress arrived. And it fit perfectly.
I couldn't help but wonder how much of my other shoppings have contributed to the wallets of the modern day feudal lords. And why I had been so stupid to realise it only just now?
This dramatic shopping experience was certainly a great lesson. The online shopping culture is there, and high rent forces me to embrace this new culture.