Friday, December 07, 2007

You can't buy class

The Louis Vuitton bag. A mark of desperation.

***I know this is a long one, but considering this subject has had me fuming for years, I actually consider it to be short - S ***

(From Class: Informal. elegance, grace, or dignity, as in dress and behavior: He may be a slob, but his brother has real class.

Class: Informal. of high quality, integrity, status, or style: class players on a mediocre team.

For a long time now, I have been a vocal opponent of human branding. I'm not referring to the kind they do to cows with iron and fire (though that's bad too). No, I'm talking about the kind people do to themselves. What is an unpleasant experience for a cow is done willingly by humans in some sort of attempt to align themselves with a sense of belonging, class or status. Only the burn is on the wallet, rather than the rump.

This isn't something I have a completely detached view of either. When I was in my early teens in the 90s, surfer brands were all the rage. Already suffering from severely low self-esteem, a Stussy t-shirt seemed like it would answer all my social problems and buy me some coolness. I forked out $37 of my birthday money (that was 1992. $37 is still too much for a shirt today, let alone for a 14 year old 15 years ago!) for a Stussy t-shirt and proudly wore it to the end of year school picnic. I felt cool when I put it on, but while at the picnic, I was still the same. I think someone may have taunted me for my shirt looking too "new". The verdict was in. I was still unpopular. Just unpopular in a cool shirt. After getting more surf brand shirts with my Christmas money, getting the much needed $65 Stussy pants and suffering humiliation after being caught for wearing a bootleg Stussy hoodie, I moved away from all that. When my Stussy pants (with a barely visible brand bearing label) eventually wore out, I switched to cheapo Westco pants. They were $20 and exactly the same with the "Westco" label in place of the Stussy. My friend had convinced me that there was a quality difference but they wore out in about the same amount of time. Once I got into bands, it was all band t-shirts which I don't really classify the same as being into a brand. What is a brand other than just being a brand? What is with fat slobs wearing Nike "Just Do It" shirts when clearly they "just do" absolutely nothing?

It sickens me to recall the amount of empty happiness this logo gave me as a youngster.

Sporting brands are one thing. I know a lot of people wear things like that and just don't care. It's just clothes. Just something someone gave them to hide their nakedness. Those companies make sportswear so the shirts do make some sense (though I still wouldn't be caught dead in one) and they are things you could wear while participating in sports, though really, a plain t-shirt would suffice. It's the designer brands that I just don't understand. Someone wearing a Tommy Hilfiger t-shirt might feel like they are aligning themselves with some style, but what they are actually saying is "I hadn't the style or money to buy an original Tommy Hilfiger designed dress/suit, so I bought this crappy t-shirt!" The designers producing those t-shirts are just preying on the desperation for the common man's desire to be classy or hip. It's like wearing a fluorescent orange t-shirt with an ugly font which reads "I'm hip, I swear!" and believing that has taken care of that. With the huge popularity of the Tommy tees about 9 years ago, the reasoning might have simply been "This is cool," but WHY? What makes that cool? It's a t-shirt which no style to it whatsoever. No-one can explain that to me.

Teach them about self worth and fitting in from a young age.

But it isn't all just about slapping DKNY or Versace t-shirts on poor people. Even people with money are obviously too insecure to step out and wear something without making sure everyone knows it is of great value and that they had the money to buy it. The Louis Vuitton bag stands out as a terrible testament to the desperate times we live in. If anyone cares about fashion, they would want to make a statement. You can't make a statement carrying something that everyone has, be it real or a knock-off. I especially love the knock-off element, because no-one can tell the difference at a glance, thus cheapening the look and making fools of anyone who spent more than $10 on one. I must say, whenever I see someone proudly clutching something with a Louis Vuitton print, the word "loser" springs to mind. It's just so desperate. It's just about screaming "I have no innovation or trust in my taste, so I will hide behind this thing. Then everyone will SEE that I have class."

I know people convince themselves that they like it, but I believe they are fooling themselves. They like the prestige, the class and all these other things that don't actually come with the bag. I've heard of people with ordinary desk jobs saving up all their money for a bag. My friend told me about her co-worker who saved up $800 for months to purchase a small LV wallet, only to soon see knock-offs turning up at the market for $20. She subsequently felt very stupid. $800 spent by someone who couldn't afford it, for a small piece of leather, thread and a zip with a fairly uninspired print, if you ask me. Don't even get me started on the ugly beige trim! If that girl was a trash bag to begin with, the addition of that purse did not stop her from being a trash bag. Again, you can't buy class. Class comes from within and can be exuded even if you buy your clothes at Target.

I'm certainly not against all designer clothes (unless the designers use fur, in which case they can fuck right off. THAT'S another blog!) On the contrary, as much as I oppose the Tommy t-shirt, I would wear the right Tommy dress in a heartbeat. I saw a gorgeous one in a window in London last year. I'd never mention that it was a Tommy as whether or not it was him would have ZERO to do with why I would wear it. If something exemplifies my style, I will wear it. I can't afford anything like that, and that's totally fine because anyone can still be classy for peanuts. I'm working the 60s mod look these days and I'd sooner wear a dress befitting my style which I found for $12 at Buffalo Exchange than some gaudy designer dress just because it has a name attached. I'm not always classy, but when I want to, I don't need to spend a lot of money to pull it off.

Do you think that t-shirt reflects Tommy Hilfiger as a designer? (I'll take the dress on the left, thanks)

I thought the man above was barbecuing, but in fact he is dyeing yarn. The site from which that picture came from states that he is doing that, " his precious Tommy Hilfiger t-shirt." Why would this shirt be precious to this man? I wonder if he actually owns a pair of the Tommy Jeans which he is promoting. Even if he is, why on earth would anyone wear a T-SHIRT that advertises JEANS? I feel like I'm in a world gone mad! Companies spend large amounts of money to advertise on billboards. And yet, we find ourselves in a time where people are spending their own money to BE billboards.

And going against the very essence of class, wouldn't it seems tacky to go to a party and announce to everyone how much your outfit cost?

Tomethy: "Bertha, you look smashing!"
Bertha: "Why thank-you Tomethy! I should look smashing! This outfit only cost me $2,500!"

That's precisely what someone is doing by brandishing something known to be expensive. I must admit, I am a bit of a blabbermouth when it comes to revealing prices, but for the completely opposite reason,

Many people: "Simone! That dress is so cool!"
Me: "Thanks! It was only $16!!!"

If someone compliments something I'm wearing, I love to boast about it's cheapness. A little tacky perhaps, but who doesn't enjoy hearing about a good bargain? The revealed price of an outfit does not lessen the appeal it had before said information was revealed. I wont dispute that often, cheaper clothes are constructed poorly by comparison to their designer counterparts, but this is not always the case, and with more flamboyant and dressier items, it's hard to find many opportunities to wear something enough to wear it out. True, higher end items are cut and sewn better, but these things aren't observable to everyone you meet and the jump in price is more for the name than the better construction. A friend of mine spent a ridiculous amount of money of a Versace cardigan, which had "Versace" printed in gold all along the trim. She specifically bought it because it SHOWED the Versace name. She told me as much. But after one wash, all the gold wore off and she was left with an unspectacular black cardigan.

Fashion is such a wonderful art form, one which starts with the vision of the designer and can then be worked and interpreted by the wearer. Not everyone is up to that task, which is fine, so long as these people don't think they can jump in on some of that by carrying a bag, wearing a hat or donning a t-shirt bearing a logo. Simply put, you either got it, or you don't. Try as one may, you just can't buy into that.

Taking great pride in attaching oneself to a brand shows a great void in self worth. There is no amount of money on earth that can fill that void. It has to be repaired from within oneself.
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