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Forever Young at Forever 21

Looking like sisters
If there’s one good thing about being a young mom, it’s having a rather close age gap with my daughter. I’m almost at my mid-30’s and Mika’s 16. So I pretty much still dig her likes and dislikes as much as she digs mine.

But when we entered the premier Philippine outlet of Forever 21 at SM megamall last July 2010, we were like opposite poles. To her it was love at first sight. For me, the feeling was like eating sushi for the first time. I didn’t really like all their stuff that much. Tried a second time and realized they were not at all that bad. By the time I reached the third, I’ve already acquired the taste.

Frankly, I was at a loss when we first got in to Forever 21. Never knowing where to begin as the place was so huge; I just tagged along with Mika. Where she went I simply followed.  As we frequented the shop, I’ve observed that she has eventually devised a system. Initially, she would take me to the accessories corner, then to the shoe section, and finally through the apparels.

While she’s rummaging rack after rack of merchandise, sometimes I would pretend that I was also checking them out. She didn’t know that I was actually trying to figure out her shopping strategies because most often than not, she unearths the most fabulous finds.

These are my 2 major observations:

Strategy 1. DIG IN
When Mika digs in, she really means it. In order for her to find super nice yet budget-friendly pieces, she meticulously eyes each rack. Whenever luck finds her, she even comes across some remarkably discounted ones concealed among regular-priced items.  Sections of clothes, accessories, and shoes cover vast areas so going through all these can take hours up to an entire day. Having said so, I see to it that I don’t have any other appointments/errands whenever I accompany Mika. Wearing flip flops or comfortable flats also help keep me going.

Strategy 2. GRAB A BLACK BAG
Mika never fails to grab one or two of those big black shopping bags at the entrance. Once she finds something she likes, she dumps it in the bag a.s.a.p. I remember her deliberating on a pair of mint green sneakers. I told her to return them to the rack because we can always come back for them later on, anyway. She explained that if she does, there’s 90% chances that they would no longer be there by the time she makes a decision. No matter what she said, I still insisted so she very hesitantly conceded.  A while after, we indeed went back to where we left the pair of sneakers and true enough they were no longer there. She gave me a smug “I told you so” look signaling me that I lost my case. So I waved a little white flag, mustered a smile, and said, “Maybe it was not just for you”. I felt another piercing stare.

I found myself going back to Forever 21 to see if I could replicate Mika’s techniques. Strategy 1 was a success! At the back most part of one of the accessory racks, I noticed gold-toned earrings for only Php95.  On a separate occasion, I found a peplum shirt with red belt hanging on an inconspicuous corner for only Php407. 

Dangling gold-toned earrings (Php95)
Black & white striped sleeveless peplum shirt with red belt (Php407)

I've tried Strategy 2, as well. Placed everything I thought was nice inside the black bag but ended up buying them all. Totally regretted spending more than I should and promised myself I will never shop like there’s no tomorrow ever again. It would be best if I just stick to Strategy 1.

The most important thing I realized, though, was shopping all alone was not as much fun as when my shopping partner’s around. No matter how crazy a shopper Mika might be or how my purse feels light as a feather after she literally shops until she drops, I wouldn’t bargain my time with her for anything in the world. Being a teenager comes only once so I might as well let her enjoy her moment while it lasts and somehow let her feel she’s forever young at Forever 21. 

How I Got My First Tory Burch: Confessions of a Shoe Lover and Compulsive Buyer

Minette, my Singapore-based sister-in-law, messaged me through Facebook last January with exciting news.She came across a shop within Far East Plaza Orchard Road, selling genuine Tory Burch at discounted rates. Apparently, the owner could no longer pay for the franchise fee and had to shut down. Otherwise, she could be penalized much worse imprisoned. Thus, all merchandise should be disposed immediately. I honestly felt sorry for the owner but then who would walk away from a really good deal?

Without further ado, I impulsively asked Minette to purchase a pair for me - black Revas with the signature gold medallion. Knowing how I adore Tory Burch, she gladly indulged my whim and also said that I could pay her up later on.  Afterwards, something dawned on me and I shuddered! How could I forget checking for legitimacy BEFORE the purchase?

Minette mentioned that the shoes were authentic as they can be. Singapore has ultra-stiff rule against counterfeits and posers.  As the country is rather small, shops possessing such items could be easily spotted and penalized by authorities.
However, her reassurance was not enough to soothe me. I immediately read articles about assessing Tory Burch authenticity then made up my own checklist. Here are points I asked her to inspect:

The Tory Burch Reva Authenticity Test

1. The Box
-Tory Burch emblem is at the center and measures 4 inches in diameter: CHECK
-No messy ink splatters and bleeding: CHECK
-The style, code/color, description, size, suggested retail price, shoe image and barcode are printed on a sticker located at the side of the box: CHECK
Note: The box is also made of hard and very sturdy board. Not like the regular cardboard box we usually get from local departments stores and flea markets.

2. The Medallion
-The medallion color is gold NOT bronze: CHECK
-It does not come with tissue wraps: CHECK
-It is not stuck on the shoe with glue: CHECK
-Underneath the gold emblem is a separate piece of leather that attaches it to the shoe and is held together by metal: CHECK

3. Seams and Stitches
-As all Tory Burch Revas are made using one piece of leather/material, there should only be one seam which is located at the middle of the heel area: CHECK
-No piecing together of material at the sides or front of the shoes: CHECK
-The shoes are reinforced with a single running V-stitch all around: CHECK

4. The Size Indicator

-The size sticker at the middle portion of each sole is transparent and round: CHECK
-Size indicator font is gold and is represented as 5M/6M/7M etc.: CHECK
-The size is not encircled and font is not too large: CHECK

5. Shoe Information

-Made in Brazil: CHECK
-The shoe information (size, code, materials used) are inscribed on the toe area of each shoe: CHECK
-Does not describe the leather as “real leather”: CHECK

The Revas fortunately passed the authenticity test and I have to say that they were truly meant for me after all. I received the Tory Burch package last February 3 via Minette’s friend who came home from Singapore to visit family and friends. I was super happy!

One can be instantly guaranteed of genuineness if the merchandise was purchased directly from a Tory Burch outlet. But it does not mean that we can only buy from an outlet. There are also legit sellers/boutiques out there. As consumers, however, we must be very shrewd before shelling out hard earned cash. Good thing, I didn’t learn the hard way.

How To: Spot a Fake Tory Burch Classic Reva (Updated).
Beware of Fake Tory Burch Shoes and Wallets! eBay Guides.
Fake Tory Burch Revas – How To Tell? eBay Guides.