Honest Bargain

“I think for a lot of people, shopping at Honest Ed’s probably felt empowering… they could find affordable necessities for their home and family, but at a special place. As someone who didn’t grow up with a ton of money, going to Honest Ed’s made me feel comfortable and welcome because it was this place that took the shame out of the word ‘cheap’. It defied conventions. I suppose celebrating women that wear sneakers is similar in the sense that  it goes against different kinds of conventions and really promotes individuality, the way Ed did.”
~Joyita Sengupta

Honesty is the best policy! I mean, “massaging” the truth every now and then isn’t such a terrible thing… Right?! Far be it from she.lace to pass any moral judgments about telling the truth no matter what. After all, “let she who owns a glass sneaker closet throw the first sneaker.” So, there will be no fancy footwear being thrown around by us because our “halos” are still on backorder. There is something we should expound on when referencing the idea of a glass sneaker closet, operative word being glass. Reflective, transparent, clarity, optics, sharp… To list a few attributes. Would you agree these are many of the outcomes of being honest? (There should’ve been a resounding “ahh” or “yuuup” as you read that last sentence). Let’s bounce this Light bulb idea idea a little further–glass reflects light. Work with us people, let us shine–and use the optics of this closet to be a transparent reflection of yourself that keeps you sharp and provides clarity. Here’s the point, when you enter that “glass sneaker closet” to grab those kicks so you can be fresh from head-to-toe take a moment to make sure that reflection you’re seeing is just as fresh. So, here’s the “deal” we want you to barter with yourself… Consider it your “store policy”: when that light in your “closet” projects your reflection you will be honest no matter the “cost”. Non-negotiable, no returns no refunds… Consider it an “Honest Bargain”. Speaking of an honest bargain, we’re going to introduce y’all to our friend Edwin. Honestly, he’s a cheapskate but for all the right reasons.

joyita-honesteds-walking
“To make discount shopping into a memorable and fun experience really is to say the pleasures of shopping shouldn’t be reserved for those who have bank. Instead, Ed Mirvish made being “cheap” this really joyful thing which I love.”

There are numerous “must see” spots, locations and neighbourhoods in Toronto. Luckily, some places are actually the trifecta of all those things… Kind of like “3 for 1” shopping. Where you’re asking? Well, if you travel to the Bathurst and Bloor streets area (just north of the downtown core) you’ll be in a unique little neighbourhood where quiet residential streets meet commercial enterprise in a near perfect union: The Annex. Dictionary.com defines annex as to attach, append, or add, especially to something larger or more important. Well, we dare say it’s irrefutable that this had to be the place for Honest Ed’s. A discount store like no other that brought people together, and became a part of “something larger and more important” than just shopping. But notice we said “had to be” crying face emoji, we’ll explain why.

Sadly, this photoshoot took place days before this iconic branding was slated to be taken down. The video below captures the storied history behind this iconic Toronto landmark.

This is the part where we normally encourage you to plan a trip to the location of our photoshoot and experience the art firsthand. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option in this case. For what it’s worth, Torontonians should always be grateful for the experience known as Honest Ed’s shopping. We call it heartwarming patronizing and wallet sympathy haha. While we wait to observe the transformation (some like the buzzword “gentrification”) of this classic neighbourhood the vintage memories championed by Honest Ed’s will last forever. Our ultimate regards to Edwin “Honest Ed” Mirvish and the legacy him and his family created. I wonder if they ever “served” up any decent pairs of Adidas shoes? We certainly “love-love” the three stripes.

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“The Adidas Stan Smith is a great example of a good quality and versatile classic. They look good on everyone and go with everything. The bright red suede kind of flips that on its head and turns up the volume on what’s usually a pretty understated shoe.”

A few posts back, we shared a Complex article about the gruelling and vigorous process of naming a shoe. Lots of tacit and latent details need to be taken into careful consideration in order to ensure the name can stand the test of time. Regardless of changing trends, styles, sneaker ideologies…the name of a sneaker has to be “timeless”. Sounds like a daunting task! Or you can do what Adidas did and name a sneaker after a legendary individual who encompasses the “timeless” criterion: Stan Smith. The Adidas Stan Smith, one of “The Brand With The 3 Stripes” most popular models (ironically it doesn’t boast the classic three stripe branding) is named after the American Tennis player Stanley Smith. Yes, the tennis shoe is named after an actual tennis player. Stan Smith is a very well accomplished American tennis player who was hard to miss during the 1970s.

Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Venus Williams, Roger Federer, Steffi Graf, Andy Murray, Martina Hingis, Novak Djokovic and Milos Raonic (yes, yes wishful thinking…leave us alone, we’re Canadian we have to support maple leaf). All world-class tennis players and all, arguably, household names. Well, Stan Smith may not be a household name for his on-court accomplishments…BUT how many of those other athletes have a sneaker in their name, and likeness, that has sold over 40 million pairs worldwide? (only Andre can really even be mentioned in this conversation) Not to mention, Stan  is in the International Tennis Hall of Fame and was a world no. 1 ranked player with seven Grand Slam titles during his career (singles and doubles combined) so he’s still their predecessor. The fame is cool, but retaining anonymity while having an item that is a fashion world icon…that seems cooler. Even Stan himself gets a good chuckle out of most people knowing the sneaker he inspired, but not knowing about him. I guess that’s what happens when a simple silhouette sells 40 million pairs worldwide. Even with your face on the tongue, the shoe becomes larger than life. Check out this CNN Sports discussion.

The Stan Smith has experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years mostly due to very strategic marketing and some amazingly creative collaborations (Pharrell Williams coming near the top of that list). Of course, us here at she.lace love the amount of women offerings in this classic sneaker…especially the Adidas Originals versions. Just like Honest Ed’s, the “less is more” Stan Smith stands out by blending in. Our she.lace model knows a thing or two about doing exactly that.

Sidenote: The iconic name Stan Smith is actually the result of a rebranding effort by Adidas. As Bustle explains, when Adidas approached Stan Smith in the early 1970s about endorsing their “less is more” simple sneaker it was known as the Haillet…named after another tennis player of the same time period.

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“Hey Ma…” No, no, no we’re not all of a sudden philandering chauvinists trying to disrespect women by catcalling (you’ll see flying-pig before that). We’re simply saying “hi” to our she.lace fashionista, Joyita. Nevermind trying to defend our greeting as the true endearment it represents, our Q&A will sort it all out “you better believe it!” (Pay close attention to the last question):

Pink faux fur, red suede sneakers, flamming socks… We love it! Explain this combination?

Joyita: When I think of the Honest Ed’s aesthetic, I just think: bold, bright and unapologetic so that’s what I was going for. I can’t help but smile in an outfit like this. Honest Ed’s is hella extra, and so am I!

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What does the Adidas Stan Smith mean to you? And, why red suede?

Joyita: The Adidas Stan Smith is a great example of a good quality and versatile classic. They look good on everyone and go with everything. The bright red suede kind of flips that on its head and turns up the volume on what’s usually a pretty understated shoe.

Perhaps, just a coincidence… But you seem partial to Adidas sneakers. If so, why?

Joyita: Definitely a coincidence for the most part because I almost wore my Air Forces. But, I will say that Adidas has been killing the game lately with premium, fashion-friendly kicks.

Finish this sentence:
“For me, Honest Ed’s was ______…”


Joyita: Unpretentious, I think. To make discount shopping into a memorable and fun experience really is to say the pleasures of shopping shouldn’t be reserved for those who have bank. Instead, Ed Mirvish made being “cheap” this really joyful thing which I love.

Share with us your fondest memory related to Honest Ed’s…

Joyita: I didn’t go to Honest Ed’s a ton as a kid but when we did, I never wanted to just go in, get what my parents wanted and leave. I loved finding the weird and wonderful things they would sell there, like styrofoam Elvis busts and holographic wall art with Eagles and wolves. Super random but funny.

You brought some Honest Ed’s signs with you to the shoot, care to explain them?

Joyita: I picked those up during their store closing sign sale. I originally went because to me, not only are those signs a part of Toronto’s history, they’re also like great typographic pop art. Hand painted signs are so hard to come by. Once we were there, it was really hard to decide which ones to buy because there were so many options. It was overwhelming. So my boyfriend and I went with signs for things that we would buy when we did shop there. Cheap gym shoes and basmati rice, of course.

Why Basmati rice?

Joyita: Because no proper Indian household would eat any other kind of rice on a regular basis like that. And we went through a lot of it so it definitely had to be bought cheap. Which was probably really nice for new immigrants.

joyita-honesteds-sign

How would you connect Honest Ed’s to she.lace women empowerment?

Joyita: I think the answer is in the question: empowerment. I think for a lot of people, shopping at Honest Ed’s probably felt empowering they could find affordable necessities for their home and family, but at a special place. As someone who didn’t grow up with a ton of money, going to Honest Ed’s made me feel comfortable and welcome because it was this place that took the shame out of the word “cheap”. It defied conventions. I suppose celebrating women that wear sneakers is similar in the sense that it goes against different kinds of conventions and really promotes individuality, the way Ed did.

Word Association:
Dip…
Killa…

Joyita: 
SET!!!
CAM!!!

Whether you are a hip hop historian, casual observer or something in between… Think back to the early-to-mid 2000’s and a political designation should rush to memory: diplomat. Yes, the movement know as The Diplomats a.k.a. Dipset took the hip hop world by storm. From Harlem, New York to the world (obviously Toronto)… looks like Joyita got caught in that rain.

Honest Ed’s may have influenced Joyita’s “lavish” look… But I think we travelled to Harlem (Lenox Ave to be specific) to find the inspiration.
Who wore it best Up arrow?

Now, remember that seemingly offensive greeting at the intro of the Q&A? The defence rests its case:
Give us your favourite Cam’ron or Dipset song, and quote a lyric.

Joyita: This is hard but probably “Hey Ma” because that song really captured the early 2000s so perfectly to me. As for the lyric: “And this my down girl too, ain’t no groupie deal. We left the movies with Uzis, Suzuki wheels…To the jacuzzi, I tell you, my boo be’s real.” 
Because I love a G that knows how to treat his girl. 💕

You read that all you “Gs” (whether gangstas or gentlemen) out there? Ladies love a man who knows how to take care of his girl.

Truthfully, she.lace was expecting some bars from Cam’ron’s “Get’em Girls” or  “Oh Boy” hit songs. Why you ask?

Oscar worthy performance for a grammy nominated number-one single. The bandana though, no words! If you weren’t before, you should now be a fan of Halloween… Yes, this was Joyita’s costume 100 small.

Here’s some irony for you, even though Joyita was “dressed up” as someone else she was still very much being honest with her true self. Not to mention all items of the outfit were purchased on a budget, so she’s truly embodying an “honest bargain”. Look, we know it’s unreasonable to expect that there won’t be moments, times or periods when we all tell ourselves “half truths and whole lies”. BUT, it’s only so long before we end up with insufficient funds making those kind of purchases. You are your most prized possession… Why sell yourself short? There’s an important distinction between cheap and inexpensive. Cheap refers to quality, while inexpensive refers to affordability. Perhaps if something is cheap you can afford it, but you can’t afford to be cheap. This is how she.lace views it. We don’t object to the idea of paying large, sometimes obscene, amounts of money on sneakers but we love getting a discount. So why not pay large, always obscene, amounts of “money” on yourself? The “money” is honesty… The “discount” living a genuinely “affordable” life and still getting every bang for your buck. An honest bargain is the only way to live an empowered life.

Next week we’ll show you how she.lace’s goal is to make all ladies heiresses to a new sneaker world!

2 thoughts on “Honest Bargain

  1. Love this post. Her take on Honest Ed’s is perfect..I’ve also been wondering why everybody seems to be wearing those white sneakers these days. This kind of explains it (:

    Like

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