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Home > Pt 1: Calling (kate) spade a spade... why do we shell out for image?

Pt 1: Calling (kate) spade a spade... why do we shell out for image?

August 3rd, 2008 at 11:51 am

Imagine this: against your better judgment, you purchase a Gucci bag off ebay. Itís $150, so itís not so cheap that you suspect a Chinese knockoff, the Gís all look properly aligned, thereís a label of authenticity, and the seller explains that sheís just trying to do some spring cleaning to pay for college. She even has a return policy if youíre unsatisfied.

You get the bag in the mail and itís of excellent quality, and you proudly cart it to fancy malls and stylish events. It probably is about the same size and shape of what you could find at Kohlís for $25 but the fact that itís Gucci makes you feel on top of the world. Until: your Carrie Bradshaw friend pulls you aside and gently tells you that Gucci never made a hobo bag with that silver strap, not even during its early Ď80s slump. Suddenly that same well-sewn bag plummets in worth in your own eyes, relegated to gym bag status. Is this at all familiar?

Everyone knows that what we pay for in retail is image. The actual costs of materials and production are comparatively miniscule. Itís why we prefer Coke over its generic counterpart, an American Apparel plain t over the same t at Target. Itís the magic of clever branding. There comes a point though, when it reaches a level of ridiculousness. In fashion, the discrepancy between what we would pay for something designer and the same product non-designer is substantial, largely because there is almost no issue of functionality and its worth is dependent on image alone (yes, yes, I know that Citizens jeans last longer than Gap's...).

If someone told me that the ipod Iíve been using for 2 years was somehow not actually Apple, Iíd live with it. It still plays music and theyíll fix it for me at the Apple store, so who cares? Sure I paid $200 for it but it does the trick brand or not. A pair of pumps also has the same function whether theyíre from D&G or DSW, but there is a whole new level of outrage regarding authenticity. Why are [some of us] so unable to see things for what they are?

5 Responses to “Pt 1: Calling (kate) spade a spade... why do we shell out for image?”

  1. frugaltexan75 Says:

    I'm probably the wrong person to comment on this because I've never really given a rip about name brands - especially in fashion. I'm very happy with my $10 no brand purse purchased at Walmart - I can be as rough with it as I tend to be, and not worry about it. If I were to have a purse that I paid several hundred dollars or more for, I'd be afraid to even use it!

    I've never been one to follow fads or trends. If I see something that appeals to me - great! If it just so happens to be the "in" style, oh well, that's nice.

    I don't see the point in spending several hundred dollars for a sweater - just because it has a Neiman Marcus name brand on it - that you could get for maybe $30 at Macy's or Kohl's.

  2. sillyoleme Says:

    I understand this completely - I've always tried to dress adequately trendy, without buying things I really don't like or spending big bucks. By this, I mean I started wearing boot-cut and flare-leg jeans when they started to become popular... but I also wore some of those jeans until I physically grew out of them (darn weight gain).

    I'm guilty of shopping at American Eagle and Abercrombie, and even browsing Gucci's website (although I never bought anything). But, as a counter point, I usually only paid full price for the jeans (which I still say are better quality than you'll find at Walmart)... and always bought the tops that were on sale or clearance.

    An upside of where I lived growing up was that you could shop at Dillard's, Abercrombie, and Express, and be a fashion god. And if you did happen to buy a knock-off Gucci bag, nobody would ever know. Smile

  3. gruntina Says:

    This blog made me think of those who may have thought they purchased a good deal on their trucks or SUV a year ago and now time has changed with the gas price hikes. The SUV and Trucks are cheaper now even though the quality is the same. I can not imagine how they must feel.

  4. Broken Arrow Says:

    Interesting perspective....

  5. pjmama Says:

    I must admit, there are stores that I like to shop at because I like thier clothes (AE, buckle), but I cant say I've ever bought a shirt that has thier name on it. I hate the whole brand craze. I'm working on learning how to make my own clothes, because for me it's about wearing clothes I genuinely like, rather than clothes that are expensive because they have a name associated with them.

    The only exception I want to throw out there is jeans. I only buy them from American Eagle, but that's because they fit so much better. lol. I try to get them on sale, though.

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