I Love Sarah Jessica Parker (& I Don’t Care What You Say)

I am aware that I am a little “behind the 8-ball” in talking about this now, but it’s something which has been bothering me for a while. If you didn’t know already, Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex & The City fame recently designed a collection called Bitten, to be sold at Steve & Barry’s. Now, Steve & Barry’s is somewhat of a discount clothing chain, I’ve never been there but I assume it is like Kmart or Target or one of those huge companies where they sell cheap items.

“BITTEN reflects Sarah Jessica Parker’s personal sense of style and taste, with her own wardrobe serving as the inspiration for the majority of the pieces. Between the recently launched summer collection and the Fall collection to hit store shelves in August, BITTEN offers nearly 1,000 apparel and accessories pieces, including jeans, woven and knit shirts, suit separates, wool and cashmere sweaters, dresses, jackets, lingerie, t-shirts, sweatshirts, sleepwear, swimwear, bags, jewelry, belts, footwear, and much more. The BITTEN collection was designed for women of all ages and sizes, with a full size range from XS-XXL in tops, 0-22 in bottoms, and 5-11 in shoes. Every piece in the line is priced at $19.98 and less…”

SJP has received SO much flack from the fashion blogosphere because of this collection. People are crowing about how the collection is ugly & boring, saying SJP has no personal style, claiming she is just ‘cashing in’ on that whole celebrity-designed clothing range thing. Fashion snobs squawk about how it’s not stylish or fashionable, so why did the collection have a big release to the most powerful fashion editors in the world? Why, when she probably didn’t design the items herself, has she slapped her name on it? Isn’t that stuff made in sweatshops? Who would want to buy it in the first place?

Firstly, the sweatshop issue. Everything I can find on Steve & Barry’s using sweatshops is unsubstantiated garbage. (There are, however, hundreds of other huge name companies whose track records are not quite so squeaky clean.) So let’s forget about that. What I’ve read about Steve & Barry’s sounds good to me.

Now, the clothing itself. The range isn’t ugly, it’s just a bit average. It’s primarily made up basic-looking items, but really, it’s nowhere near as bad as everyone seems to be making it out to be. The problem with fashion blogging is that it’s very easy to develop a distorted perception of the way the world is. If you read enough of this stuff, you’ll start to think you’re the only woman in the world without a Chanel item in your closet. This is so far from the truth it’s not funny. A lot of women (& men) scrape by on very, very little.

Here’s another shocking truth: most women wear pretty plain, functional clothing, just like what SJP has designed! Women who shop primarily in discount clothing places probably do so for a reason — either because to them, clothing is just something to cover yourself up with, or it’s something they just can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on. Maybe they have 7 children to dress & that’s the most important thing to them. Some women have other priorities than kitting themselves out — & that’s okay. It is, in fact, pretty selfless & amazing!

This stuff is not FOR women reading or writing fashion blogs. Some of it might appeal, but it’s pretty obvious that it was not intended for us. & you know what? That’s okay too. It’s alright for us to be excluded every once & while; we have enough temptations as it is! The Bitten range is for women living in small towns, who don’t have internet access, who can’t afford to buy Vogue every month. These items are for women who admire Sarah Jessica Parker, who watched Sex & The City when it was on television & wished their lives could be as stylish, fabulous & carefree. They are for women who have huge families to care for, who save up for a year to buy a new washing machine.

Why has she put her name on it? Because it draws attention to her, of course, but MOSTLY because it draws attention to the fact that she’s designed a range at all! If you don’t promote things, people don’t know they exist. It’s just basic marketing. Here’s the main point: if you had a clothing budget of $50 a year, of COURSE you would feel better if some of the items were designed by Ms. Sex & The City herself. It is a way to elevate people, to make them feel better about themselves. People love to associate themselves with things that they perceive to have value — this is as true of women wearing Sarah Jessica Parker’s range as it is of women who buy Louis Vuitton luggage. It’s that simple, just the other end of the scale.

If I had her level of celebrity, I would want to do something good with it too. I applaud her — she has even worn the items herself. It’s a sad fact that the higher your profile, the more you are judged & criticised — & it’s a shame, because I think in this case, she is genuinely trying to do a good thing.

Extra For Experts:
Click “documentary” & watch SJP speak about her line. (I think she’s great.)