Julissa James envisions a sustainable future for LA fashion

This story is part of Image issue 7 “Survival,” the collective vision of our dream LA. See the complete package here.

Dear backpack,

When I found you, I was in a second-hand store doing what you’re probably aware of as me now: peruse the aisle and expect to find nothing.When I’m happy, bored, or sad-mostly when I’m sad-I go back to where we met, or at least where we met favorite Where we met, and I’m frugal.

It’s been a minute since my glorious antique dealer, where the Steve Madden platform and Betsey Johnson slip dresses of the 90’s hadn’t been hijacked by Depop resellers and were replaced by an infinite amount of Shein and Fashion Nova. I didn’t have a really lucky second hand store day for months. But that wasn’t a problem. That wasn’t the reason I was there. This ritual has taken root in me since I was a kid because my mother did the same when she was happy, bored, and sad. (Almost sad.) It wasn’t more about the outcome than the action itself. I hope that walking, seeing, taking everything in, letting others go into the sea of ​​old things, and the whole experience somehow help me feel like myself again.

Imagine my surprise when I found it you While scanning the wall of the bag: black leather like butter, broken, but still perfect. You seemed unpretentious, probably why no one has noticed you yet. Upon closer inspection, the almost invisible label is indented on the top flap and then on the inner lining: Prada. Prada? !! I felt like I saw something I shouldn’t have. I immediately snatched you, hugged you like a secret, and quietly said, “Oh, my god,” so no one doubted anything. I paid $ 7.99 and went out as if I had escaped for a crime.

(Samanta Helou Hernandez / For The Times)

I’ve never been crazy about labels and luxury items. However, I like long-lasting things and am familiar with small black backpacks. A few years ago, I was in Los Angeles when someone in the next aisle said, “I don’t understand why grown-up people use backpacks as wallets.” Meanwhile, I wore my backpack as a wallet. This person couldn’t get it. They didn’t see you like me. Your longevity, your diversity, your tactile nature. You are sleek and small, but carry everything I need without burden. At least two lipsticks, one in grunge brick color, one in nude brown and one in chapstick. My wallet, which holds an ID that has expired many years ago, reminds me a little of who I am. Writer (just in case). My bulky keyboard set. Scrape off the scent with emerald green Damascus rose body oil. Pen and reporter notes. Recording device for interviews.

You also hide my mess and bad habits in a beautiful shell: a growing hiding place for straws from too much iced coffee, receipts from too many impulse purchases. Random business cards that are unlikely to be thrown away. I will take you everywhere. At a work event on weekdays, I’ve seen me casually look good on weekends with a drink with friends. You are not always perfect, but we will do our best. Sure, when you’re dancing in a sweaty warehouse on Saturday night, the left strap will almost certainly come off, but don’t miss the beat and tighten the strap again.

Writer Julissa James and her Prada bag, No. 07, Image Magazine.

(Samanta Helou Hernandez / For The Times)

It is these quirks and flaws that are part of your charm. They proved that you had a long life, and there were experiences and conflicts in the process. That’s why I think I’m very attached to you. Why I Have You Forever: You’re supposed to be together — after all you’re a Prada backpack — but you’re flawed. Still, it’s worthy of a second chance, worthy of love, and beautiful.

I’m also trying to think of my future version that way.

Yours in the dust of a thrift shop,


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Julissa James envisions a sustainable future for LA fashion

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