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Designer Brands

September 15, 2011

I do not buy designer items.  (Note, by designer I mean luxury brands, not just “brand-name” items for stores like BR, Jcrew, etc.)  At first glance, yes, it is because I’m practical.  But it is more than that, because I do buy expensive things.  I even buy impractical expensive things (sometimes).

I don’t buy designer because I don’t like the message designer brands send.  If a designer item has a subtle logo and is high quality, I’d consider it.  (I probably still won’t buy it since it is impractical, but I won’t be opposed to it.)  But I am opposed to owning things that scream out the brand name.  I can’t pinpoint what message an expensive handbag sends, but I know it isn’t one that I want to send.  (“Status is important to me” or maybe “I have lots of money“?  What do you think?)

I’m not really an unconventional person, but I like to think I’m independent minded.  I refuse to play into the handbags-as-status-symbols game.  There may be a point in my career where I look around and realize that changing this will help me out  in my career – but I seriously doubt it.

I don’t hate or judge people who wear/buy designer things.  Everyone makes their own choices and I really don’t care if it is important to someone.    I understand why it can be important, for careers, social circles, or simply one’s own pleasure.  It’s just something that I don’t want for myself.

I will buy popular brand names, if the brand is something that resonates with me.  A few weeks ago, I was trying to explain why I bought (and like) my TOMs shoes.  Because they are popular, brand name, and not really cheap for what they are. I started out with comfy walking shoes, but then she tried to say they served the same purpose as her coach tennis shoes.  Definitely not.  (I have some Puma’s that I’d consider more equivalent – reasonably stylish comfy tennis shoes for walking.)   With TOMS, the message you send (in my opinion) is eco-chic ultra casual & relaxed comfy shoes.  It isn’t just about comfort.  Everyone says CROCS are comfortable, but I refuse to wear them.  It is about the laid back & causal factor (the “buy one, give one” aspect is nice too).

Luxury brands all send a message that doesn’t agree with who I am or who I want to be.  Do you buy brands?  Do you buy designer brands?

29 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2011 4:44 am

    I try to avoid logos as much as possible. In high school I had the idea that if something had a logo that meant it was a nice quality, regardless of where I got it or what it was. I found myself buying Ralph Lauren t-shirts with the little logo and Coach handbags at the outlets. (Not the brands that you’re talking about, but my point is that I cared too much about a logo and didn’t even question that the product might not be up to snuff.) The shirts didn’t last longer than any others, and even though the bags lasted, I lost interest in them before they were worn out, so I gave them away. I wish I had just saved that money! Fast forward ten years and now I try to dress and accessorize as nondescriptly and classically as possible. When I see expensive designer things I think, “That money would get me most of the way to the gum graft I’m saving up for!” or “why isn’t that designer paying customers to carry that advertisement?” I do have a designer weekend bag that is not logo’ed. It was a graduation gift, and while I wouldn’t have purchased it myself, I have really enjoyed it. It is well made (not to say another bag couldn’t do the trick, though), and it is not flashy (not many people would look at it and know what brand it was).

  2. September 15, 2011 5:08 am

    I haven’t made the leap into designer items either. Not so much as a wallet or a pair of earrings. I have bought designer for other people as gifts, though!

    I think my problem is that I have a price setpoint for clothes – a certain price range that I’ll buy within. Sometimes it fluctuates – if I’m feeling like I’ve spent too much recently, the numbers shrink down until it would take a great deal to get me to buy anything. When I was really into Anthropologie a couple years ago, the upper end of those ranges creeped up to encompass their sale room.

    I think I’d need something to push me. Right now, I can’t justify the additional cost, since it seems like even the big name brands are made in China now anyway. If I do ever break the barrier, I suspect it will be with a Kate Spade purse or something, since they’re usually in unique shapes and colors that I can’t find anywhere else (althought the knockoffs get better all the time…).

  3. September 15, 2011 6:28 am

    I completely agree with you. I rarely buy designer brands, thought I do have some lovely dooney and burke bags given to me as a gift. If I do buy a designer brand (say I find something awesome at Lohemann) I much prefer to have the logo hidden. I’m not sure why, but I just prefer all my logos to be hidden.

    Having said that, I do have TOMS and nike work out clothes – so it is not a hard and fast rule. =)

    • September 15, 2011 10:15 pm

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who prefers a hidden logo! It’s not a rule for me, but It is a rule when it comes to high end luxury brands – at least so far!

  4. September 15, 2011 6:29 am

    I made the leap 😦

    I bought a Burberry wool trench coat because I couldn’t find it in a similar substitute for exactly what I wanted..

    Gosh. Now I feel like a sellout… but I really wanted the design, not the brand 😦

    • September 15, 2011 12:01 pm

      Aw, FB, we all know you’re the furthest thing from status-obsessed!

    • September 15, 2011 10:14 pm

      No way, you are not a sell out. You have a good reason for buying it, and you love it, and um, yeah, I know you are not status obsessed. Quit being silly! 🙂

      • September 16, 2011 4:27 pm

        I agree! A Burberry trench is on my much-wanted-lust list. I’ve even contemplated starting a savings account because I can’t find an equivalent in design, comfort, and classic style. Post a picture!


  5. September 15, 2011 6:29 am

    I couldn’t agree more. I cannot stand obnoxiously advertised brand names. Recently went shopping for clothing for my niece (my sister is due in Jan) and the mass majority of clothing had branding everywhere. Needless to say I walked out empty handed. Baby cloths, REALLY!!!

  6. September 15, 2011 7:08 am

    I’m totally with ya here. Being a designer whore reminds me of how we behaved in high school, ya know? And I know some people claim we never grow out of high school, but I choose to be more optimistic and say some people never grow out of high school. 😉 In high school, it was all about the brand names. If you were going to buy something, it better have this or that logo so everyone in the school knew you were cool.

    Once I left for college, I realized I preferred clothes without any logo. I loved Gap polos, even if no one knew it was Gap instead of Walmart. Who cares? Mostly, it pisses me off to think that a company would be getting free advertising because I’m carrying a purse with their logo stamped all over it (yuck) or a shirt that says the company name right across the chest. No way!

  7. Bonnie permalink
    September 15, 2011 7:58 am

    BF just bought a pair of TOMS last week and he’s already living in them. 🙂 Quality and style. I don’t intentionally buy designer stuff usually just for the label, but I have found a few small, independent, unique designers that I am loyal to (and all are 100 percent made in the USA). I’m more concerned with buying from local and/or independent companies/stores whenever possible than I am with certain labels.

  8. September 15, 2011 8:34 am

    I completely see your point and like FB, kind of feel like a sellout because I do buy designer items. I love the quality and I feel like I am getting more for my money buying my Gucci wallet that will last me 10 years rather than buying cheap wallets every year. I do not go into debt for these items and only buy accessories that will never go out of style.

    I will not however take a stand against knock offs! I think that a lot of time people are sending a bigger message when they buy a fake item. Plus I do not agree with how the items are made or where money from the sales goes (such as terrorist organizations).

  9. September 15, 2011 10:59 am

    I sure don’t!

    It’s not worth the $$ and I agree that the status symbol is a bit silly

  10. September 15, 2011 12:53 pm

    It sounds like you are a conscious consumer and that you buy the brands you feel send the message you want to send. It doesn’t sound like your decisions have as much to do with price or practicality. This is fine – but notice we are all swept up in being brand conscious one way or the other, except for the very few of us who echew all consumerism and live completely different lifestyles (those people are probably not reading this right now!).

    I do buy some designer brands when it comes to shoes and purses as well as food and electronics (Apple anyone?). I don’t try to argue that every purchase I make is “worth the money,” or that I’ve done a detailed cost vs use analysis, but my buying decisions more or less send the message I want to send – to my clients, to my colleages, and to my friends and potential parters.

    • Bonnie permalink
      September 15, 2011 2:17 pm

      Excellent point, Meg, about Apple (and other non-clothing brands that a lot of us are obsessed with). And I can be pretty brand-conscious when it comes to certain food products.

    • September 15, 2011 10:11 pm

      Meg – I think the majority of my purchase are based on price & practicality, but I am certainly willing to deviate from that on occasions. For the price, TOMS are not very practical, but I like them anyway. (They were a gift… but I’d buy them for myself.) In general, most of my purchase are based on (perceived) quality & price. And I just don’t find designers have are that much of a higher quality than a similar item at a lower price point (only generally speaking – sometimes they are).

      As a a side note, I kind of hate apple as a brand and was thrilled when alternative smart phones came out. I bought an android (for 1 cent, and a contract of course) and love it. I do have an ipod, refurbished, but it’s my only apple product. I dislike the brand, so I would only buy an apple product if I was convinced the product was far superior (macbook air?) and that it was really the best value for the price. I might buy a macbook air despite the fact it was Apple, not because it was Apple.

      • September 20, 2011 3:38 pm

        Something about Apple bugs me. We just recently switched to AT&T for our cell phone plan because the service works well where we live, but I had no desire to get an iPhone. I’ve never even had an iPod! haha

        I don’t buy designer brands either. I don’t really like stuff with logos all over it

  11. September 15, 2011 4:04 pm

    Man, I’m a label whore and everyone around me knows it. I’m not really sure if I am to an excessive extent, but I am with certain things. But, I don’t go into debt for said items and I don’t buy them very frequently. I will save up and buy a Coach purse or a pair of Dolce & Gabanna sunglasses and I worship my Tiffany & Co set Rambo bought me but I try to do it smartly. I think I enjoy the fashion extent of it more then anything. I’m not saying fashion can’t be done cheaply or anything like that, but I do enjoy what certain pieces bring to an outfit.

  12. September 15, 2011 5:31 pm

    I’m not opposed to brands – I buy them if they fit me and look decent. But I’ll also buy something at the dollar store if it fits me and looks decent. 🙂

    I absolutely REFUSE to buy anything designer. I think Coach bags are ugly and the prices are ridiculous – I’d rather have 30 purses that cost $10 than one purse that costs $300. If I honestly felt something was better made and would last longer, I could justify owning it (I’m a multi Apple product owner, for example) but I just can’t do that for clothes, shoes, bags, etc. Especially since I like to wear out my clothes; gives me a reason to buy more!

  13. El Cheapo permalink
    September 15, 2011 6:45 pm

    Bit off topic but… TOMS look awesome on ladies. On dudes, not so good. Just my opinion. I’m usually rocking the VANS but the downside is that they wear down 2X faster than other canvas shoes (Converse, PF Flyers, etc.) The older I get (sadly) I’ve started to care more about my fashion sense and labels and brands. In college I was the vintage t-shirt and 10 dollar jeans guy. Those days are gone mostly. Now its the vintage T and 90 dollar jeans =)

  14. September 15, 2011 7:53 pm

    I buy some brand names (like you said, BR, JCrew, etc) but no designer items. I agree with your opinion of brand name or designer stuff that screams logos – I could never get anything like that. I don’t want to advertise for companies – much less PAY to do so!

  15. September 15, 2011 9:17 pm

    I buy designer brands, but I hate huge logos, so I stay far away from those. I’m more about iconic shapes when it comes to purses, and won’t buy just for the heck of it because it is such and such brand.

    I also love buying designer shoes, but only when they are comfortable. I did a test once…bought a pair of designer high-heeled sandals, and a pair of Steve Madden ones…and I felt like I was going to trip if I didn’t hold on to somebody/something in the cheaper ones. While I can run in the expensive ones.

    I love my TOMS, but for some reason they only go with my polo whites, and nothing else.

    • September 16, 2011 8:13 am

      Yes, exactly. I think if I had significantly more disposable income to spend on shopping, I would shop similarly. Designer if it made sense for quality or uniqueness, but never logos. But I honestly can’t justify the designer prices on my current income.

  16. September 15, 2011 10:38 pm

    I have a Coach wallet because PiC bought it for me as a gift some years back and I remember my stomach sinking when I opened the box.

    I knew immediately that he just wanted to get something really nice for me that I wouldn’t get for myself because I won’t spend “that kind of money” but at least he knew me well enough not to get something with a logo emblazoned but not quite enough to not get the designer at all or not to let his status/image/designer-loving SIL help pick something that was really out of my comfort zone.

    So I’d agree that I’m still uncomfortable with the status symbol, with the *supposed* wealth symbol, of the logo and the designer. I don’t belong in that sphere and I don’t want to dress or accessorize like I do because it’s just not me. I’m a slouchy person at heart and I’m happy that way.

    At the same time, I don’t judge people who are comfortable there insofar as thinking anything particular of them – they choose it because it fits what they think of themselves or like for their lives but it does define to me in some small part what kind of lifestyle they lead and whether or not I’m likely going to feel comfortable in their company. It’s not necessarily wholly definitive, it’s just a point in a list of possible points.

    Safe to say, I won’t seek designer brands for the sake of the designer brand but if there’s something that is absolutely gorgeous in its own merit that I could afford within my price point and would last forever and that wouldn’t even whisper designer, I would consider it. But that’s putting it on the same playing field as any other object: affordable, high-quality, acceptable look.

  17. September 16, 2011 9:11 am

    I think I tend NOT to like designer brands because many people like it just for the sake of status, not quality or look. IMHO, designer stuff has lost its “cache” because a lot of people who buy it CAN’T really afford it or the lifestyle it’s supposed to convey.

    Having said that, there are some really beautiful well-designed high-end brands that I would love to own, if I lived a luxury lifestyle. Since I don’t, I prefer to spend my hard-earned bucks in other ways or save it. I do buy some good brands but I don’t own any truly high-end designers.

  18. September 17, 2011 2:34 pm

    I’ll admit it: I can be kind of a brand whore. My closet is a definite high/low mix – I would say 90% of my clothes come from the Gap, H&M, and Loft – but I do have a few Coach bags, some Tiffany’s jewelry, a Longchamp bag, etc. But I also don’t like labels. Like I really don’t like the Coach bags with the Cs all over them – mine are just traditional all-leather. It’s more of an aesthetic thing – I just don’t like the look of graphics or letters on my clothes and bags.

    I’m curious – what about designer items that have an obvious designer “stamp” (like the red bottom of Louboutin heels, for example) but that don’t have a “label” per se?

  19. September 20, 2011 8:53 pm

    I’m with you on the designer brands. About five years ago I was shopping with a friend looking at Chanel handbags. Some of them are really pretty and I was thinking of getting one for myself (they were only a couple of hundred pounds, which I could swing then). But, they were all over studded with those stupid linked Cs. I liked the bag, I wanted the pretty bag, but I didn’t want to *advertise* that it was a Chanel. Wasn’t it enough to look really beautiful?

    Now I buy very few things and none are designer brands. As for designer accessories like sunglasses and earrings, I must admit I see those as the poor man’s version and it just makes me think the person likes the brand status but can’t actually afford the real stuff.

  20. September 27, 2011 9:32 pm

    Recently a designer brand in my country went bankrupt. I blogged about how this was maybe a positive thing. You should have read all the horrible things people said about me.

  21. December 8, 2011 10:28 am

    I buy things based on bang for my buck. Since I don’t internally value whatever message logo brands send out, it’s never a “+” in my book. In fact, an item with the logo repeated all over is always a negative in my book in terms of appearance and the message it sends out. But if I find a designer-item of great quality and design without obnoxious logo all over it, that I believe will be cheaper in terms of cost per wear, then I’d buy it.

    I buy expensive and unnecessary things, but only to please myself. I try to take out the “social perception” aspect out of all my purcahse decisions. I only buy more expensive things if I’d be willing to pay the price despite the fact that nobody else will see them or know how much I paid for it. I have a large water-front apartment, the rent is expensive, but it’s also my sanctuary. I don’t tell people about my apartment or invite a lot of people over, so it’s not a status symbol at all. It makes ME happy, so it’s worth it to me. On the other hand, a 1000 dollar designer bag would not bring me as much personal enjoyment, so I won’t buy it no matter how others may perceive me because of the bag. It’s my money, I spend it to please myself and no one else, prjecting a false sense of wealth in an ostentacious way will not please me, so no status items for me!

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