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May 23, 2010

This brand is your brand

So I am reading a fantastic book, "The End of Fashion" by Teri Agins, published in 1999.  It tells the story how fashion changed from something dictated by Paris designers to a corporate-run industry making primarily copycat sportswear, heavily marketed via highly identifiable brands.  It's a fast read, chatty and engrossing.

She quotes Giorgio Armani:

"Fashion is finished, for me the diktat is finished," Armani declared to New York in September 1997.  "That is, 'this is fashion and you must dress this way--it's finished."  Fashion is what  a woman makes.  She puts on an Armani jacket, a skirt by Gigli.  This is fashion."

Agins identifies what she calls four "megatrends" that contributed to the "end" of fashion, as she see it:

1) Women let go of fashion. (Now pursuing careers, fewer women defined themselves by their wardrobes.)

2) People stopped dressing up. (Think "casual Fridays.")

3) People's values changed with regard to fashion (i.e., They weren't embarrassed to shop for value instead of status.  They wanted quality, but at an attractive price.).

4) Top designers stopped gambling on fashion.  (Fashion houses, largely owned by publicly traded companies, were no longer willing to gamble on fashion whims.)

In a nutshell, while people still care about clothes, it's more about the image the brand conjures up in their mind since so many of the clothes are similar, i.e. commodities.

Agins explains:

"Today's 'branding' of fashion has taken on a critical role in an era when there's not much in the way of new styling going on--just about every store in the mall is peddling the same styles of clothes.  That's why designer logos have become so popular; logos are the easiest way for each designer to impart a distinguishing characteristic on what amounts to pretty ordinary apparel."

So where do you stand on all this, readers?  Do these logos affect you in any way?  Are there some brands you have a weakness for, others you find distasteful? (I've chosen these but don't limit yourself to them.)

Are any of us wholly immune to the power of the fashion brand?  Not me, even though I make most of my own clothes.  But I do look at magazines from time to time and even if I didn't, just walking the streets of the city the ads and logos are impossible to avoid and/or ignore.

I remember when I was about 13 or so, I had to have a Lacoste shirt because everyone (well, everyone who mattered to me) in my school at the time was wearing one.  And I confess: I do own a pair of Gucci loafers (bought at a consignment store).  And while I've stopped wearing cologne, I was once very fond of the exclusive Acqua di Parma.

As a sewer, are you less impressed with branded merchandise?   How about fragrance?  Does the name (and image) matter, or is it just the smell?  (Tell the truth.)  Is there a clothing brand you strongly identify with even if you don't wear it?

"The End of Fashion" was written ten years ago.  Do you think anything has changed since then or has marketing and the importance of the fashion brand only intensified?

Jump in!


  1. Great timing of this post, I've been thinking about this too lately. Personally, I'm completely 100% immune to the power of brand, I buy what I LIKE.. regardless of the brand.
    But one thing is for sure, if a piece of clothing has a logo/brand written all over it, I will NOT wear it. I feel like if I'm going to advertise them they should be paying me, not the other way around? Just don't like the idea of being a walking add, that's all.
    A brand is just that, a brand. And that's one of the reasons why I started sewing, it's ridiculous to buy a dress for 500$ when you can make one for much less.

  2. I think this is a fantastic read for you as many of your posts are on the social-economical aspects of fashion. I think I'll pick the book up as well since I'd like to hear what the author has to say in more detail.

    All through fashion school, teachers and students imposed the importance of possessing a knowledge of brands and their styles. I on the other hand felt that I was studying the ART of fashion, not the BRANDING or MARKETABILITY of fashion. While I did take marketing classes as part of the course, it was not my personal strong point or focus. I was there to learn how to CREATE fashion, not sell it.

    This in general explains the focus of the book (from what it sounds), as well as the industry and the way that fashion education is geared. In today's fashion education you'd be lucky to graduate knowing any couture techniques. It's all come down to "fast, cheap, and profitable."

    I as a designer/sewer rebel against this entire logic. Nothing I make is fast, it's NEVER cheap and it is usually NOT profitable for me but if it is it's quite marginal. The only element I want to change of course is profitability and in a world where you can get designer clothes at outlets, it's hard to sell a client on custom made clothes without explaining all the differences.

    To answer your question though, as somebody who learned to create my own stuff before the age of becoming appealed to brand names, I was never really turned on by "status symbols" or brands. Mostly because somebody wearing a label would have such a sense of pride and I could look at the garment and not really identify anything about it that was very unique at all. Nothing that I couldn't do myself with sewing experience and tools. So in my mind a "Brand" was honestly nothing but the little embroidered icon. It was a "club" of people who paid too much money for the same polo that I had but theirs had a little alligator noting that they were the popular kid on campus.

    Today as an adult I don't have a brand loyalty. My closet has very few designer names. If I do purchase designer it's something I cannot make myself. Messenger bags, shoes, belts, hats, maybe ties and fragrances. Out of everything the designers get my money when it comes to Fragrances. While the smell itself can be copied just as easily as a garment, it is one of the few things that I feel is really worth the price and the designer brand actually deserves my money for formulating the fragrance.

  3. I've only recently found your fabulous blog and firstly I wanted to say thank you for such a fun and informative read every day. Secondly, I wanted to thank you for a perfectly timed post that I just have to reply to and is a great excuse to take a break from gardening!

    I have to admit, I don't understand why people want designer clothes and will pay through the nose for a logo with an ordinary piece of clothing on it. I don't think I own a single thing that's branded or designer ... no, wait, I tell a lie, I own a Jenny Bannister ballgown that I bought because I loved it and not because it was designer (and also because it was on sale). I'm not sure I've ever owned anything branded in my life (apart from Chanel No 5 perfume that was bought for me and sportswear I've inherited from my sister). The most branded I get is over my computer because I will only buy Macs (and that's about functionality and prettiness, not a logo). I like vanilla perfume and clothing I'm not afraid to wear because of how much it cost me. I'm looking to make my own clothes because I can't stand the styles currently available to me, I can't stand the idea of being anyone's clone and because I'm two different sizes and can't get a good fit on anything RTW, branding - for me at least - doesn't even enter the equation.

  4. The brand thing never appealed - but I think part of that was that my mom pounded the "and you want to be like so and so?" into my head when I was younger and we certainly resisted it with our kids. The other thing is that I think I have sort of idiosyncratic taste and except for something basis - like black slacks - I can never find anything in stores that I want, like, that comes in my size range or looks good on me. So I tend to sew because I really need to. The other thing is that as corporations sold brans and not fashion, it became obvious to them that quality did not matter at all 0- which is one of the reasons they moved so much manufacturing offshore and cheapened the goods so much. If al that matters is the label, and you wish to maximize profit margins, then the race to the bottom makes sense in business terms. But it rips off consumers.

  5. Every now and then I visit a real city, ie one with a Chanel boutique. Then I try on Chanel jackets. It is very necessary to leave my credit cards in the hotel while I try on Chanel jackets because while you are actually wearing one the price seems quite justifiable. Try it and see what I mean. But lock up your credit cards first.

  6. I have a collection of mini-perfume bottles on my bedroom shelf, and my rule for what I'll collect is that I have to like both the look of the bottle and the scent. With a few exceptions, most of them do have designer names, but that's not why I chose them. Well, for Christmas I received a gift of a beautiful little bottle of perfume. The fragrance is quite nice, the bottle is lovely, so it should fit right in with my others, right? But then I noticed that the brand was that of a Celebrity Who Really Annoys Me, and that was a deal-breaker. It makes no sense, really, but the fact that the perfume was associated with that person over-rode the fact that I liked the bottle and the scent.

    That books sounds really interesting. I'll have to look for a copy.

  7. What an interesting question. I started sewing a lot fairly recently, so I still buy a lot of my clothes. (I know, I'm such a slacker. :P) For me, brand can't be a very important factor, because I simply can't afford anything like J. Crew.

    I will say this, though. To a certain extent, brands do matter. Or rather, quality matters. I have a pair of capris that I picked up in a thrift store (half price day--$6!) that are from J. Crew. And they are nice pants. They feel like they are well made. They actually fit me, which is soooo rare in RTW. However, I used to have a pair of capris from Lands End which was similar in quality, for probably half or a third of the price. (And even Lands End is highly priced for my budget.)

    That was a bit rambly, sorry.


  8. I refuse to wear clothing with logos displayed on them. I'm not a billboard. And like Branka I've always felt that if companies want me to advertise, they can pay me.

    I used to love the scent of Chanel No. 5 and wore it often. Now perfumes just give me a headache.

    My MIL gave me several Tommy Hilfiger shirts years ago for my toddler son. She even said that everyone would be so impressed. (I consider her the shallowest person I've ever met). Being the kind of Bi....Oops, person that I am, I sold them on Ebay where several people bid. Someone paid a ridiculous price for them. Sucker!

  9. No branding for this sassy gal. I am my own brand. I know the names of some of the top designers that have been around for eons, but I don't have the money to own anything of theirs, and as for branded names,nope, have no interest. I have a friend that has to have EVERYTHING she owns branded and she loves to drop names. Anything she ever says goes completely over my head, as I have no idea if what she is talking about costs $3.00 or $3,000. I would love to own a vintage Chanel suit or a wonderful Emma Domb dress, but that is as far as I go.

  10. Another good book along this same discussion, is Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, by Dana Thomas. This is not a chatty, quick read. It is informative on a global level and in the end it will leave you feeling 'sad' about the whole fashion world.

  11. I'm not not much of a power of brand buyer, I buy what I Love, and what looks good/fits me... regardless of the brand/designer.
    I agree with many others that I don't want to walk around looking like an Advertisement. The main reason I'm starting to sew is that I can make clothes that fit well, look good, and respresent me as a person.

  12. I've never been a brand-loving person. There are simply brands whose clothes I like and that's it. It's not BECAUSE they're Ann Taylor or DKNY. I buy what I like. I have a very cute knit skirt from Target, for heaven's sake. I admit though: if it had a Target logo, I'd remove it. I'm just enough of a snob to do so. I have a pair of JCrew pants that fit perfectly -- I love them! -- but every time I put them on, I groan at the VERY sloppy waistband. It is so badly made!

    It used to be that you could get "Vogue Designer" labels when you bought a pattern. I always thought that was the most ridiculous thing. You know: whup-dee-do.

    I'm with Susan and Branka: If I wear a CK t-shirt, they should pay ME, not the other way around. The only brand I absolutely will not wear is Tommy Hilfiger. I find the stuff obnoxious and ALL OF IT is covered in logos.

  13. The only thing a designer logo says to me is "paid too much, got poor quality".

    As a rule, if I must buy something that is obviously branded, I obliterate the brand. (When I bought a microfleece hoodie last year I sewed a ribbon "badge" over the (trendy) brand name.)

    As a rule, I remove the labels from the jeans I buy, too. And no, I'm not buying "designer" jeans. In jeans, I can wear almost anything, so I get the cheapest possible that fits well and is comfortable.

    Like Branka, I would never consider wearing or owning "logo-ed" clothing, accessories, etc. I am not a billboard for someone else's product.

    Department stores don't even exist for me; they're that irrelevant.

    I second sewforward's recommendation of "Deluxe" by Dana Thomas. It's a fantastic look at the luxury/fashion industry, and how it killed itself.

  14. Our era is the cult of celebrity and I am so over it. If a celebrity markets it, we seem to buy it, be it perfume, clothing, home dec, eyewear, etc etc etc etc. Celebrity sells. It's why you don't see models on the cover of Vogue, you see Sarah Jessica Parker. (Peter, have you seen September Issue? Fascinating.) Anyway, I do believe Fashion is over, if you define fashion by the once all-powerful fashion designer. These days, most anything goes, which is not all bad, but it is different.

  15. Luckily, my job requires that I wear a uniform, so I'm spared from shopping for a work wardrobe. I truly feel sorry for those who do. I'm not in any of the major stores often. But when I am, I'm always struck by how severe and depressing most of selection seems. I guess fashion is really just a much more expensive , much less fun uniform of sorts. I mean, how many days a week does one want to wear black.

    The best antidote for "brand desire" is a top notch color analysis. I'm not talking about the Winter, Spring, Summer Fall crap. I sat for a great analysis years ago and it's served me well. When I shop I'm totally keyed into color. In my case, I'm scouting out dark browns, olive, warm reds, dark dusty purlples, aqua, corals and peach. It's helped me build a closet of clothes that last forever because they always look "right" on me. Case in point. While shopping for my new winter coat fabric with my partner Brian the decision came down to 2 fabrics. He held them up to my face and picked the dark brown/charcoal herringbone. BINGO.

  16. I've never liked wearing clothing with logos or brands, and I certainly never shop with them in mind. I would NEVER wear a garment or carry a bag that is covered with a designer logo. I'm glad to see that I am not the only one. :)

  17. I refuse to provide free advertising for anyone, so I don't wear clothes with overt logos.

    I feel like I can say that I'm pretty immune to branding, marketing and advertising, since I don't have cable, I don't read magazines and I have all kinds of ad blocking scripts on my computer.

    I just flew the other day and was watching TV on the plane, and was amazed at the nerve jangling affect that commercials have. They're so horrible!!

    I do treat myself with my perfume, and there's only one scent I wear, but it is by far NOT a recognizable "name" - not like back in the day, when every boy I knew was doused in Polo....gah! (I wear Lime Basil Mandarin by Jo Malone)

  18. Ditto what Branka said about logos: If someone wants me to wear their logo, they should be paying ME for the free advertising.

    I do think brands can be helpful, though. For example, if I'm looking for a more modern, trendy work wardrobe, I might look to J Crew, but if I'm looking for a conservative, traditional look I will look to Land's End. Both have preppy looks, but the cuts, fits, and drapes are different.

    But sewing and thrift-shopping have made it difficult for me to pay extra for a designer name. I think I'd pay a dressmaker for a custom-made garment before I'd pay $$$$ for something store-bought.

    So, yes, I do think I have my favorite brands, some more expensive than others; but I don't consider them status symbols. They are mostly just dependable old favorites.

  19. Do I seek out particular brands of clothes? No. Besides, I sew 99% of what I wear. OTOH, shoes, yes, but only because I like the fit of a few certain brands. A designer's logo on the outside of a piece of clothing/shoes/etc. doesn't make that item "fashion." It just makes it cost more. True fashion doesn't have logos plastered all over it. And I'm looking at you Louis "LV" Vuitton and you Karl "CC" Lagerfeld and you Calvin "CK" Klein and all your other little logo friends.

  20. I'm not a designer snob. I don't think I have ever bought something with a "label", for the label. Whoops not true- I do own a Coach handbag. But my go to handbags are selfmade. I will "copy" certain designers though. Michael Kors for one. If there is a Michael Kors pattern out there, I am sure to own it. When I make it though, it is a "Couturesmith", not a Kors. And, truth be told, if I could afford something by Andy Thê-Anh (Canadian designer) I would own one! Of course, he doesn't brand his clothing though..

  21. I don't care for brands but I do care about quality. I find that branded clothing are generally made of better quality fabric and workmanship. However, quality is secondary to fit and style. So,I will buy something made of lesser quality if it looks good on me, even if they are from discount stores. Some casual styles can look as good but just won't last as long. I mix and match these with the more expensive branded clothing that I have. I do the same with make-up. I don't wear perfume anymore either but when I used to, I chose smell over brand.

  22. Whatever Omar the tent maker makes, if it's attractive, I'll wear it.

  23. Not everything I own was made by me so of course, my clothes have a label, but no, I do not shop with an eye only for label. Often I put things back on the rack because of obvious branding. Marketing is fascinating since it delves into the physcology of why people do or don't purchase. For me an obvious brand or logo is vulgar, for someone else they enjoy it.

    I have a signature fragrance that has been with me for yes, decades. The love affair began based on scent alone and I couldn't care care less about who the designer is. I may change one day but only because the frangrance is superior, not because of some blip in style.

    I've some designer pieces and they were worth every penny, but they don't shout trend and I'll enjoy them for years. They were purchased with me in mind, not some model or celebrity face. I've also got pieces bought for pennies. So rather than saying I'm fashionable or not, more correctly I'd say I have a personal style that's influenced and inspired by what's around me.

  24. This is funny timing - I just bought my baby a Burberry sweater which is I'm pretty sure the very first thing of that kind of level brand I've ever bought in my life, but it was second hand and I was pleased with the quality and materials. That shop is all second hand top brands and I was impressed by how nicely made everyhing was and what nice materials. I would still never buy new and never because of the label, more in spite of. I have friend with a thing for handbags and I was always shocked at what she implied she paid (and considered a deal!) for bags made of plastic and covered in a logo. To me a lot of them looked cheap, even when they cost more than I've ever spent on a single piece of clothing or accessory (including jewelry - all the nice stuff I have is gifts from my husband)

  25. Like a few people have already remarked, I won't wear anything that has logos on it - the only exception being Levis and their little red butt-tag. I'm generally brand-ambivalent to brand-averse most of the time. My clothes are either homemade, vintage or so basic as to be unrecognizable (plain t-shirts, etc). Even as a kid I was this way; having seamstresses in the family, I often wore hand made clothes.

    As an adult, I work in advertising, which makes me very brand-aware in all other aspects of my life, so I guess on some level it makes sense that I would avoid them in my personal attire.

    The same is true for my fragrance choices. I usually wear plain old essential oils as fragrance and I find that when people ask me what it is, they seem confused that there isn't a brand name associated with it. I never really thought about it until reading your post, but I guess most people are brand-oriented with fragrances. I grew up around a lot of hippie earth mother types and most of them wore natural fragrance, so I guess that shaped my own view of fragrance choices.

  26. I'm another one who agrees with Branka. I'm not advertising your shit for free.

  27. I buy almost everything from the thrift store so I'm interested in quality, cut, durability and not a brand. However, there are brands I won't buy because I don't want to be associated with what they stand for. No Walmart brands for me. No clothing with logos on the outside unless it's a small tag.

  28. I dislike logos which for me symbolise ostentation and vulgarity. I have to admit to being a complete snob. Although I can only afford it in my dreams, I like Hermes because they don't do logos (other than on their perfume bottles perhaps). If you see a prominent Hermes logo on something, chances are, it's a fake. True class doesn't need to advertise itself like that.

  29. That pattern is so elegant. Add me to the draw please.

  30. after watching a british tv series the other day (forget the name) where they sent about 5 or 6 young people obsessed with brand names to india to see where the clothing is made, i am completely turned off (not that i was spending big dollars on clothing already).
    it was an eye opener. the sweat shops people! its scary to think that as buyers we are the ones making this happen. its the demand for these brands that keeps the sweatshops in action.
    The young brits had to work in the sweatshops and were all crying and miserable by the time they were 2 hours into the shift. and they still did not get the point!!!
    in one particular factory they were making ralph lauren shirts and they churned out something like a hundred a day in just one of the production lines, and if they didnt get them finished they had to stay until they did! even if that meant sleeping under their sewing machines... i dont know about you but i dont love my machine that much. im too annoyed about this to be making any sense but they only made 2 british pounds a week or something equally minute and people are paying thousands for these items.....
    So even though everybody knows about sweatshops, how are people still drawn to buy these labels? how are they designer when coming out of a sweatshop?
    thanks for the thought provoking topic peter!
    (this was not meant to be such a rant!!!)

  31. I'm not into brands, nor have I ever been. I own (and have owned) designer goods, but because I liked the particular garment - not because of some corporate-contrived image. Only a small few of said items were bought at full price. The others were bought at thrift stores or Marshalls. =) I do like some designer perfumes, but only for the smell.

  32. I enjoy reading your blog.

    I am definitely NOT into brands.

    Its all about the quality and construction for me. I believe in getting my money's worth, which is probably why I sew alot of my clothing.

    Thank goodness none of my kids are into brands. Lately though it seems difficult to find clothing that doesn't have some type of branding.

  33. I do shop brand names for several items. They are specifically Blauer, Horace Small, Fruit of the Loom and Wolverine. After wearing them all for over 20 years it is the durability. I spend 60 to 80 percent of my time wearing these items. Fashion has nothing to do with my work life.

    In my social life, clothing must be comfortable and make me feel good. Any brand will do that fits.

    Scent is chosen by do I like, it is light (no lingering 20 minutes after I leave the room), and no allergic reactions.

    Thank you Peter, your column brightens my day.


  34. I'm interested in everyone's comments on branding and logos as they relate to the fashion industry. However, I think an even more interesting question would relate to the Armani quote "Fashion is finished, for me the diktat is finished. That is, 'this is fashion and you must dress this way'--it's finished." OK this is a sewing blog, we sew so we can wear whatever we want, we have our own labels and we wouldn't be seen dead in a logo blah blah. But what about the diktat? Did you sew/wear a maternity dress a couple of years ago? Are you currently sporting ruffles? Waist seams? Mad Man inspired 60's frocks? Do you check out the current RTW offerings to decide what to sew? Who, if anyone, is telling you what to wear?

  35. I tend to feel guilty because I can definitely be brand-driven (I've got a Lacoste clutch on layaway at work, but to be fair, alligators/crocodiles are my favorite animals) but at the same time, "better brands" are often better made to some degree. I've learned this after 4 years in retail. Sometimes not, such as Lilly Pulitzer pajamas. Either way, they're all generally made in sweat shops and that's where the real problem is. They produce these garments at basically the same price so I have no problem paying next-to-nothing for them, when I do buy them. I am trying to wean myself to some degree.
    If something is made in America, I have no problem paying much more because I know that person is getting paid for it properly.
    ANYWAYS (way off track here), sewing has definitely made me more shrewd about what I will and won't wear. And the stuff out this year has been pretty darned ugly.

  36. Although I tend to avoid logo-branded merch because it makes me feel like a walking billboard, I do have a small group of brands that I'm fairly loyal to. Especially when it comes to thrifting - when you're buying used, buying quality is key. Whatever it is has already been through one round of use, after all.

    The brands that hit me where I live - Marni, Celine, Jil Sander - do so because of design sensibilities, not status or cost. So I'm comfortable looking to those brands for inspiration, and putting my dollars toward similar items instead of the real deal.

    So I guess I'm feeding into the forces that the author described!

    Another great read, Peter. You rock.

  37. Why take the trouble to actually produce interesting, flattering and durable clothing when you can just make the t-shirt and the jeans, stick a logo on it and then convince the masses to "see" the style inside their own heads? Its genius!

    It reminds me of the old joke about the prison inmates who'd told each other all the jokes they knew, so one of them just had to say "number 256" and then they'd all laugh at joke number 265.


  38. Overall, my sense of fashion tends more toward costume or menswear than designer's idea of feminine sophistication, so I am rarely tempted by the most popular names. I find the big logos on everything (Biggest offenders in my mind: Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabana, Coach) ostentatious, and ultimately cheap. I bought a DKNY T-shirt on clearance at a department store because I liked the screen print on it and it didn't have a big logo (months later I noticed an "NYC" that blended in), but had to refashion it so it had any shape. I do like the sensibility of some designers (Andy The-Ang is among them), but I'd almost certainly need made-to-measure garments from their designs and cannot afford even RTW versions.

    I will cop to buying a Louis Vuitton-Hello Kitty obvious knock-off handbag when I was in Asia last; I think it was under $10 US. It was a perfect size and too ridiculous to pass up (see above note about costume-y taste!). That's actually on the short list of things I wish I had kept in the divorce.

    For all of my clothes, I avoid logos on the outside. A patch on the back of the waist of jeans can be acceptable, but is often just uncomfortable. I have been known to sit with a seam ripper for 30 min to remove machine-sewn labels stitch by stitch.

    Some items I look more toward certain brands because a reliably flattering (or fitting) cut and the assurance that the garment won't fall apart in a 2 months are important to me. Brand is also an "avoid this" tag for me: most big-name designer's RTW lines don't fit my curves. Sometimes any of them. Shopping for clothes is enough of an emotional roller coaster for me that I don't subject myself to the torture anymore.

    Most of my clothing comes from Goodwill, with some from Target and some from department stores. I am a lowly grad student, so why pay $60 for a pair of pants when I can get a virtually new pair at the thrift store for $5? I was ecstatic to find Express sells some button-down shirts which will close over my chest (a, well, growing problem), and will absolutely return there. At the same time, I am looking into the pricing for custom shirts (not made by me, but by an experienced local tailor); I don't imagine it'll be that outrageously different. I have worn some made-to-measure clothes, and the difference is amazing.

    Someday, I hope to have a sewing room (or at least area) so I can work with a dress form and have a sturdy work table. Then I'll be wearing my own bespoke designs! For now, it's a studio room, a linoleum floor, and some dreams!

    Wow... It seems I wrote an essay for my first comment (been reading for a few weeks). I hope it's not too long-winded!

  39. To be honest, I love brands. Most I cannot afford, but there are certain brands I look to often for inspiration in my own sewing. I think we're awful lucky that some people take creative design seriously. I know when I head through Macy's I'm in awe of some of the gorgeous items I see. Honestly, if I hadn't had to walk past Nanette Lepore items that I couldn't even think to afford, I might not have been inspired to sew and design for myself.

  40. That book is excellent. I read it last summer and it was very helpful in understanding why the f' it is so hard to buy clothes and why people look so awful. It might have been a hassle to wear clothes in the 50s/60s but as a group, people truly stopped looking good after the mid-60's. I also recommend Fugitive Denim which is how I found the End of Fashion since it was cross-linked on Amazon (

    The issues for fashion might be less about branding but more about practical, fundamental issues regarding the production of clothing. We buy clothes for convenience. But factory made clothing is inconvenient when it does not fit, does not look good, and there are no reasonable alternatives to off the rack. When modern working woman turns to home sewing out of this frustration, then that's how bad it is and that's how to learn exactly why 1970's woman dropped home sewing as quickly as ready2wear would let her. But home sewing is the only way to realize how complex it is to be clothed. Our culture is so separated from the realities of producing food and clothing that we now think it's only about taste. Our culture really has no idea. Today's "fashion" is about as tasty as today's supermarket tomatoes, and for the same reasons which is that mass production dumbs it down, has to otherwise the unit costs are too high.

    Anyway! Good books. Lots to think about.

  41. I love Ralph Lauren's clothes and if I had the money would buy a wardrobe made up of them. Unfortunately I can't afford this and own a few things from him and a lot of things from the GAP. But yes I think a lot of it is that women are multi tasking, career/job, husband, kids, etc etc so their ego isn't as caught up in the clothes.
    NYC is much more fashionable than a lot of other places which I think affects the amount of effort needed to look stylish. In Boston where I live people aren't as into being chic as they are in New York. It is therefore easier to look hip in other cities. . which probably ties into this too

  42. I'm a little late to the party, but I'm one of those with brand-immunity. I grew up with a dad who was a salesman who eventually went into marketing & media (this was the 90s) and eventually into video production. I watched him create logos, collateral materials (letterheads, etc) and create brand recognition for clients.

    Couple that with an innate sense of "I don't give a furry rodent's fuzzy backside what other people think" and there you have it. I was a social reject because I didn't understand people's NEEEEEEEED to have Sebagos instead of Bass. They're SHOES. Ugly shoes. Who cares what label is stitched on them. They're probably manufactured in the same factory somewhere in Asia, anyhow.

    Which leads me to my next point. My husband is Indonesian. And one thing I've learned on our trips back home (thanks to family in the biz there) is that all those "designer" jeans you're paying the big bucks for? All made in Indonesia. They may have been designed in Italy, but I can promise you they aren't made there. I've scored designer items at the outlet stores in Bandung for pennies on the dollar what they sell for in the US. Ralph Lauren shirt? $5, Old Navy skirt that's still in stores for $25? $3 and it goes on. Armani suits? $20. WITH TAILORING. We didn't get one of those because we had a bespoke suit made for $250. Of Armani wool.

    Once you know what things are really *worth*, it's really hard to pay retail. Or even sale prices. At the end of the day, I'm extremely pragmatic. I wear what I like and what I can find that fits. <--- Fit is a topic for ANOTHER post for sure.

    You asked about perfume. I wear what smells good. Why would I wear something stanky just for the brand on the bottle? Right now, it's Kenzo Fleur. Before that it was Kenzo's Indian Holi special edition. I alternate between the two depending on the weather.

    I guess you could say I subscribe to the Slim Shady School of Fashion. ;-)


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