From the day the first cave man stumbled out of his cave to gloat about discovering fire, it has always been human nature to compete. If you’re not a winner you are a loser, and this trait of nature has developed into many different competitions as time has gone on. Now millions of years later, instead of competing for food, space and power, we compete for money, knowledge, status and continue to fight for power, on a much larger scale.
This need to be valued has translated into women wearing shoes that cost a month’s rent, or men with cars that are more status symbol than transport.
Perhaps, with some designer items, the price could be justified, for example one of a kind pieces, but the Chanel hand bag you spend the best part of a grand on won’t hold your miscellaneous collection of rubbish any better than a cheap bag. If it does the same job, what is the difference, apart from the best part of your bank account – and overdraft.
With most top designer purchases, you have nothing but your receipt to show the huge dent it has left in your finances. Most designers choose not to advertise their line on their own items, because spending a fortune on something and wanting everyone to know you had would make it seem like that you were somewhat common.
The thing about labels is that they are a dividing line. They set the bar for people in social circles, between the rich and the poor. Anyone who doesn’t see this line usually have banks circling like vultures while they desperately try to pay for a new Louis Vuitton with 6 different credit cards and a handful of change.
In many ways, designer items can be a one of splurge, for a milestone. For example, you get an amazing new promotion at work, you buy new shoes, or for men, an expensive suit. In a way this is a healthy way to take designers, because you are not drowning yourself in credit card bills to reward yourself for all your hard work.
The problems come when people start to think that everything in their lives needs to have a label. Buying clothes, like many people already know, can be like a drug, and with designer clothes, a very expensive drug at that. Each time you go shopping you’re going to need to buy more and more, as you build up your price tag tolerance, in order to give you that same rush when they hand you your perfect shiny, designer carrier bag to walk about the shops and show everyone what you can afford.
In high school having the right clothes could make a person, and in life, people seem to think this is still the case. That, one more bag, dress or pair of sunglasses will “make” them, and bring them happiness that other – less expensive – purchases perhaps wouldn’t. Surely you can be just as miserable in Jimmy Choo’s.
The whole thing is very reminiscent of the story of the emperor’s new clothes, just because designer clothes are said to be the thing to have, we have no idea why when it really comes down to it, why that is. Why someone, somewhere, who most likely owns a summer home in the Hamptons, says that a bag is worth £2000, and we just accept it?
The suggestion is not that we should all give up and wear bin bags. The suggestion is that, in a world where children are starving and dying for lack of clean water, where is the justice in owning a wardrobe full of thousands of pounds worth of clothes, which probably never see the light of day. The value of a designer label is not the price tag, but the cost it has on your self-worth.