Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Label Whores.

Whatever happened to the old adage "Money can't buy you happiness?"
Suppose it can't, but it can buy you that BMW, that Louis Vuitton bag, and that Chanel jacket. It could also put a pool in your backyard and a maid in your kitchen that you can pay minimum wage because she came from Mexico.

Okay, I suppose I sound bitter. But I can't seem to wrap my head around the label obsession of the average consumer. Something about carrying a Louis Vuitton bag screams "Status" that it makes people feel wealthy, and important. Even if they nearly maxed out their credit card to afford it. What is it about designer labels that cause people to become so... impractical?

I have never cared about brands. I'm willing to pay decent enough money for a good quality garment, but you'd never catch me spending hundreds of dollars on jeans, a bag, or even shoes. Maybe jewellery but even now I'm happy with my $40 rings and cheap, cute accessories. I am more satisfied when I discover a thrift store gem. I think it's kind of funny that I'm going to school for Fashion Design when I don't really care a whole lot about what's going on in the world of fashion. The most I've ever actually attempted to follow the industry has been in this past year. I haven't always hated it, I quite admire the work of designers like Betsey Johnson, Marchesa, Vivienne Westwood, and Alexander McQueen. But I just as much admire the work of many of the sellers on Etsy.

I just don't really understand the nature of the fashion industry. There are people who actually DECIDE what the colour trends are going to be. Self-proclaimed fashionistas feed into this, eating up the latest September issue of Vogue and proudly sporting their latest [insert luxury designer brand here] shoes/bag/outfit/whatever, and before you know it the season is over and it's onto the next trend. Sure, some privileged people can afford these "luxury" items - I'm not sure what is so luxurious about them, since I've never actually held them in my hands - but why are they really buying it?

I suppose there are a variety of factors that come into a customer's buying habits. I don't understand why a Brand name would be one of them. There are some things I do think should be considered:
  • Fit - Is it flattering on your body?
  • Comfort - Can you walk in those shoes?
  • Quality - Will it last longer than a year? Or more?
  • Fabric - Is the quality of the fabric good? How does it feel on your skin?
  • Emotion - How do you feel when you wear this? Does it make a statement that you want to make? Does it make you feel confident? Happy?
  • Ethics - Was it hand made? Domestically made? Or was it outsourced? Was it produced ethically?
Really, the only time price would even be of importance is if it was a good quality item for an extremely good price point.

Fashion is one thing, style is another. I think style is how you use clothing to express yourself, to make a statement of your personality. Style is also about how you put your outfit together in an appealing way - kind of like using the elements and principles of design. But at the same time, it's about wearing what you feel like. Fashion on the otherhand, is this omniscient presence, a commercial clusterfuck that controls the minds of consumers.

I have seen many people who just wear whatever they want. As long as it's put together well, I can appreciate it. Even if it's not, if they bring an aura of confidence to what they're wearing, then I can appreciate that too.

I guess I just don't get the big deal. I don't know why some people care. Perhaps this is why I will never make millions off my designs. I don't need to, I just want to be able to live comfortably, doing what I love.
It just leads me to a song I previously posted recently:
"Is there anybody thinking what I am? Is there any other alternative?"


  1. Great post - I totally agree with your negative assessment of label obsessions, the criteria that you list seem infinitely more important to me when purchasing items than the branding. I also just can't justify purchasing a designer brand simply because it is a designer brand to myself, it just seems so incredibly blatantly consumerist and almost vapid. I admire clothes and accessories for their quality and construction and creativity, not the name on the label.

    Courtney ~ http://sartorialsidelines.blogspot.com

  2. I think you'd be surprised how many of the girls in the fashion design program feel the same as you. You're a level headed girl and I know you'll do great in the area's you pursue!

  3. Not only will you do great but your individuality will shine through!

  4. Interesting post Jess. However, I do have an opinion on the matter as well (of course). I like to think the fashion industry is extremely open-minded in the sense that people can wear whatever they want, however they want...especially now in 2010. Having said that the people who are wearing designer labels are making a choice to wear whatever they want, whenever they want...just the same as the person who is wearing vintage or lower-priced brands. I think the allure of luxury items is the exclusivity. In an attempt to be different (like ever true fashionista wants to be) people buy designer labels. This doesn't make them snobby or pretentious...just different from almost everyone else....just like we are trying to be. Not to mention that when you purchase luxury items you are buying into a piece of history...just like art collectors. Most people who purchase luxury pieces have extensive and important collections of garments that are curated and often used for museum exhibits and whatnot. The majority of luxury garments/accessories are made by the best craftsmen in the industry (with the finest materials available)...and often using techniques that have been passed down hundreds of generations. It is the mass market clothing that has issues with ethically produced garments. I don't think you can lump everyone who purchases designer into one group and assume they are label-whores. It is tough to 'label' these people without having any first hand knowledge either...you never know you might change your mind! And finally to my point...most people just buy things- designer or not- just because they LOVE it!

  5. I can definitely appreciate the level of craftsmenship behind luxury fashion, Alexander McQueen wasn't known for his brand, but for his genius tailoring. Going to school for fashion has absolutely shed light on this. I know a lot of very skilled techniques are required to produce couture pieces that are, in themselves, works of art. The rant came from this website I visit where people post their looks, and a girl posted asking if her bag was worth the $400 she paid for it. It was a Coach bag, which I have heard are very high quality, but it looked very plain. But it had me thinking, so many self-proclaimed fashionistas are brand obsessed, to the point where it is simply the name that matters, not the actual garments themselves. I would suggest that it's more of a socioeconomic issue than the designers themselves. The exclusivity of luxury items is definitely a main factor, as it becomes a symbol of status, just as it always has portrayed throughout history. I suppose it's the fashion subculture mixed in with the rapid consumerist culture. Perhaps I feel this way because I'm a college student that doesn't have a lot of disposable income, so the concept of spending hundreds of dollars on these items just for the name that attached to it perplexes me. To some people, that is what fashion is, or what it has become. It's the planned obsolescence of fashion; in one season, out the other. I'm not trying to judge, although I am judging those types of people. Maybe I'm not much of a fashionista.. but I'm a clothingista... I love clothes, and I would love to make well made clothing. I just don't care about the politics. But there's a lot about the consumer culture that I disagree with, but can't do anything about. I'd be down with a Handcrafted Revolution...

  6. I totally agree with you. I'm way more satisfied when I discover amazing things at the thrift store. You know that not everyone will have it and you worked hard to find it. I really don't like labels. I love good quality clothes but other than that there's no need to overspend on clothes.