For some reason outlet mall shopping is one of those things that I'm always slightly ashamed to say that I'm doing. Somehow hopping on the tube/bus to a sample sale in London or clicking about on eBay/flash sale/Yoox is not the same thing as planning a day trip with 1-2 hour train rides involved that is SOLEY focused on discounted shopping. That's EFFORT.
Sounds ridiculous when you think of the sort of things I do for a bargain – queuing in sweaty hot weather or snow (yes, that's you Christopher Kane sample sale‚Ä¶), setting alarms for eBay auctions at 3am in the morning and sustaining elbow injuries (I bruise VERY easily like a defective apple…). I suppose there's also the feeling of a designated outlet mall, filled with basic brick buildings geared towards sterilised discount shopping and lacking in the friendly camaraderie of a messy sample sale, that generally lessens the thrill seeking element of the stuff you buy.
The feeling of shoe-gazing shame definitely crept in as we took a two hour train ride to Gotemba right on the Mount Fuji trail, near the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park for one sole purpose. To admire the landscape? To go find inner peace at a temple? To try a nearby onsen and stay in a traditional ryokan? No, we got off the train, took a special bus to Gotemba Premium Outlets, part of the group that operate all over USA and sought to get discounted Prada/Miu Miu/Yohji/whatever was going with below-par katsu curry to fuel us for the day‚Ä¶
If it was a clear day, you can in fact see Mount Fuji from the outlet centre. It was pissing down with rain the day we went, so fortunately I didn't have to do the walk of shame, going from east to west side of the centre, whilst confronted by the magnitude of Fuji. We err‚Ä¶ saw SOME landscape though. The mall is built over some sort of a ravine and is set into a mountain so that there are trickling waters, craggy rocksand lush greenery to be seen from the less scenic brick outlet stores of Balenciaga and YSL. We ticked the nature box! Yay us!
In truth, it's all down to a certain Mr Oh who a year ago, hauled an envious load of discounted Jil Sander at Gotemba, and has since sworn by the centre's abilities to produce serious bargains. It was at Jil Sander where I therefore did the same, with a collection that happens to rank right up there in my personal favourite Simons for Sander moments. In the Jil Sander outlet store, there sat a rail full of S/S 08 pieces at 90% off. Remember? Those sunset colours gradiating from perfect pinks and oranges to a dove grey blue? This collection passed by on Yoox at smaller discounts, but to see it all in person on a singular rail with crossed off prices triggered off a fruit machine KER-CHING in my head, that resulted in my buying a pair of candy pink trousers and orange corseted button-up dress. Together with a miraculously matching vintage top, I can now emulate the exact shades of orange cream and strawberry flavours of Opal Fruits sweets (the actual sweet, not the wrappers…). Worth the slightly shaming trek to Gotemba? Too right…