Consumer competition

Opinions_high fashion

Why ‘high-end’ brands are giving you a bland personality

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

We brag about the products we own as if it was some kind of accomplishment. As if it added value to our lives. It doesn’t.

When people approach me, eager to show off their expensive watch, designer purse, or bold-logo T-shirt, I feign excitement, smile, and for a brief moment, feel gracious at being in the presence of something so valuable. “Wow,” I exclaim, “you must have worked really hard and been very fortunate to earn this luxury item. I’m sure glad I have a successful friend like you.” That feeling, however, vanishes quickly—just like my paycheque.

High-end products such as designer brand fashion, luxury vehicles, and expensive alcohol fascinate me. I grew up in a lower-middle class family where less is more. All the same, my parents always strived for the best. When I went back-to-school shopping, my parents bought me Nike and Adidas. When we went out to celebrate my good grades, they would take me to a fine dining restaurant. I’d have been satisfied with Joe Fresh and McDonald’s, yet I didn’t decline. Money didn’t buy happiness, but it was a great way to motivate and celebrate. But that is not always the case; some people choose to use expensive products to separate themselves from the less fortunate, and that is the venom of consumerism.

If you’re wearing a product with a large logo, it’s because you want people to know about your prosperity and wealth—and maybe your fabricated sense of style. You want people to know that you can afford a Versace bag, an Armani suit, and a pair of D&G leather shoes. You are, in a sense, better than them. That attitude to me is a little sickening, but it is true. The same way some people use cosmetics to appear more “beautiful,” others use luxury items to appear higher up on the social hierarchy.

I have a slight guilty pleasure watching someone purchase a counterfeit product thinking it’s authentic. They saved money and they’ll be happy for a while. Most people can’t tell the difference between a Chanel bag purchased on Robson Street and the Chenel bag purchased on Keefer Street. Sooner or later, those who own a Chenel bag will ultimately feel inferior. They would rather throw it away shamefully than continue using it as a practical item. It’s true consumer tragedy.

Furthermore, many intimate relationships are based around expensive outfits and accessories. In our consumer society, a mate’s desirability is based upon the bling. Now, I ain’t saying she’s a gold digger, I’m just saying she looks fine in H&M, driving around in a Toyota Camry, and eating brunch at Costco. A relationship where lavishness is a prerequisite is a flawed one. And to think that someone is not good enough for you just because they don’t have unlimited credit spending and a gold-encrusted jumpsuit is rather offensive. It’s like trying to find love in a pile of money.

We have become blinded by designer brands, thinking that owning a garment will change our personality and make us more appealing, successful, and happy. Luxury items are short-term solutions, like drugs or alcohol; they don’t harbour any lasting memories.

Instead of spending on expensive products, choose to use that money for experiences with friends and family, charities for less fortunate, and your own personal growth. That’ll impress me more than your stupid gold watch.