A long time ago, I was an extra in Fast and the Furious 3: Tokyo Drift. It was filmed in the parking lot of an abandoned mall in Hawthorne, California, and the set was absolutely packed with dozens of flashy cars, countless crew members, and hundreds of extras. The days were long, and I bonded with one of the other background people whose name I cannot recall. All I remember was, he was extremely bored, and suggested we sneak into that mall to see what was in there.
We managed to find an unlocked door just behind where the stunts were happening, and it was like I just stepped into a different universe.
The place seemed to be the setting for an apocalyptic zombie video game. Broken glass littered the lackluster once polished floors, half dressed mannequins leaned in strange, grotesque poses. Some shops still had remnants of merchandise — I recall seeing some belts and hats haphazardly laying on what once was cashier’s till.
Walking through that mall with hazy light pouring through the dusty skylight was an experience way more memorable than all the Fast and Furious movies combined. As we walked up the dead escalators, my nerves were on high alert. The place was silent except for our footsteps, yet I felt like something was there. For someone who absolutely does not believe in ghosts, it was quite a strange sensation.
It wasn’t long before we were both too creeped out to continue exploring. I thought we might get tetanus from accidentally cutting ourselves on rusty hangers, and he thought we might get murdered. We headed back to the set and pretended to be dazzled by stunt drivers squealing by for another day.
The vivid memories of that mall never left my brain. The mall was frozen in time, and it was then crystallized in my mind. Since then, I started to really love old mall aesthetics — such expansive space, trendy-for-its-time decor, tragic color schemes, zig zagging escalators… They are built to keep people in there to shop, eat, and shop some more. But I can’t help but wonder what they would look like if all the tenants and patrons suddenly disappeared.
The mall we went to for this post is not abandoned, but definitely has an almost-dead-but-still-thrashing vibe. Long stretches of hallways have no occupants. Aside from people going to the bubble tea shop to escape the summer heat, or cutting through to exit on a different street, it was largely empty. Its strange neon banners are reminiscent of the 90’s — quite fitting for what I was wearing.
I was going for retro, and this place fit the bill.
I dream of once again exploring abandoned spaces fit for a nightmare, but for the backdrop of a lighthearted summer I-don’t-care-about-fashion fashion post, this will do. The look I was going for with this outfit was a disastrous mix of old Greyhound bus seats meets retro Dixie cups meets suburban mall dwelling misfit. It’s all very specific, and I hope that came across somewhat.
The 90’s was and is so cool.
Sunglasses Bought off some dude on Venice Beach | Shirt Garage | Shorts Bluenotes | Belt Forever 21 | Backpack The Children’s Place | Earrings Vancouver Flea Market | Shoes Payless ShoeSource | Photos @deklyn21