Designer Labels

I am increasingly appalled by how superficial our culture is becoming. It seems that appearance has become the means by which we judge and are judged. Of course, business has cottoned on to this, and is using the slightest of pretexts to coerce us into spending huge sums of money when modest sums would suffice: such is their mission. The old notion of use-value has been cast aside.

In a word, let us call it 'fashion'. If a designer's label is deemed fashionable, or a particular style of commodity has become de rigueur, people think nothing of spending four times or more the amount that an equivalent product from a 'lesser' brand would dare charge. And what does one gain from this extravagance? Nothing except the vague perception of acceptability.

Here are a few examples which spring readily to mind (no doubt we could all add equally valid entries to the list):

  • Off-road 'jeepettes' - there seems to be an inordinately large number of these on the roads; many driven by youngish women. One can only conclude that the farthest off road they progress is the car park at Sainsbury's.

  • Sporting goods - for example, training shoes costing £20 are rejected, in favour of those with the right name, costing three to four times that amount. It goes without saying that they will not last three to four times as long.

  • 'Designer' clothes - time was when one's mother made every effort to ensure that the labels on clothes were tucked in. Nowadays, if the label is not showing, one is considered somehow socially inferior.
It even extends to businesses themselves - who must buy their sales representatives elaborate 'image-projecting' cars for fear of the derision which potential customers might heap upon them were they to arrive in something more practical or cost-effective. Frequently the sneer is more imagined than real. Needless to say, the additional costs of these trappings are passed on to the consumer.

Such conspicuous consumerism would have been frowned upon only a couple of decades ago. Yesterday's ostentation has become today's "fashion statement." How willingly our nation has espoused such things. It is time this self-imposed tyranny stopped.

As for me, I refuse to think the less of a person who does not wear Calvin Klein jeans and Nike training shoes; if anything, it speaks to me of an individual. Give me some sensible trousers and a pair of stout brogues, and I'm a happy man.

as published in the Nottingham Evening Post, 2nd November 2000

...and the response...


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