Pity For Prada

Source: Purseblog

Source: Purseblog

According to a recent story in the Washington Post, it appears that expensive trappings such as handbags, jewelry, luggage, shoes, etc., are now considered to be déclassé.    Conformity is taking a backseat to individuality.  Shoppers are looking for non-brand and discrete products that eschew any kind of obvious affluence.  Income disparity is in and conspicuous consumption is out.  At the moment Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, et. al. have to be concerned about rich customers feeling guilty just for having money. Who says the rich don’t have a heart?  Why, they’re willing to forgo a $695 silk scarf just to prove it.

It does figures that something like this would happen when it no longer matters for me. Around my current neighborhood, the only real evidence of peer pressure is the type of electric golf cart you own (I’m relieved I’m not a golfer; I don’t need additional examples of why size matters).  But still, why couldn’t such noble class-consciousness rear its head when I was growing up and attending elementary school?   I used to stare with a longing in my heart at all the cool kids who had foil-wrapped Hostess Ding Dongs in their lunch boxes, yet my own mother sent me to school with the Ann Page version which sat in a dreary-looking, plain packet.  Nothing screamed provincial back then louder than a store brand.  

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Of course, even adolescent boys do eventually become aware of clothing options.  I hadn’t realized how uncool I really was until it was pointed out by a caddy soul that I was the only member of my immediate peer group who still wore Sears Toughskin jeans, or as my dad referred to them — “dungarees.”  Unless you were wearing the too-cool-for-words Levi’s, you were no one.  When the day finally arrived in which an actual pair of Levi denims was to be purchased for me, I got so carried away that I somehow managed to also snag a Levi logo t-shirt and a Levi denim jacket to go with them.  Talk about brand heaven.  I wore all three the following day to school and literally became a walking advertisement.  I also recall it being a rather difficult conversation about six months later when I tried to explain to my parents that Wrangler had now become the new très chic instead of Levi.  My dad quickly let me know that he was more than happy to buy additional pairs of Toughskins to keep a growing boy clothed.  Early poker rules were being learned about when to hold or fold.

Toughskin pants.  I'm pretty sure I had these exact three, circa 1972.  Source: Skooldays.com.

Toughskin pants. I’m pretty sure I had these exact three, circa 1972. Source: Skooldays.com.

As much as I am truly delighted to see Americans displaying a bit of self-acutalization, I do have to wonder if the current trend towards circumspect behavior has legs.  Usually this kind of social change is limited to one-time events such as the post-9/11 focus on kindness, which lasted, oh, about a month. Remember when some of the more hopeful pundits actually said Hollywood would stop making violent movies because of the tragedy?  Ha!  Call me jaded, but I’m just not sure that in the same week in which Donald Trump announces his candidacy for president, that we’re going to see a sustained attempt to alter the God-given right to keep up with the Joneses.  There may finally be a pope in the Vatican who is focused on poverty and the disadvantaged, but he’s still got his work cut out for him.

As proof of my skepticism, I read with both horror and delight last weekend at how some rich people in California are chafing at the restrictions being placed on water usage in the Golden State.  In yet another news article also in the Washington Post, some in wealthy communities have become a bit brazen in their public statements about having to conserve water in the same manner as all other citizens.  One of the more vocal remarked that, “People should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful.”  He further went on to exclaim that he doesn’t feel all people are equal when it comes to water.  I have to hand it to him for candor.  It must be simply awful to look at all that dead grass.  I just hope he doesn’t get fed up and eventually move to Florida — I’d hate to have him in the same hurricane shelter as me someday.

For the betterment and the sustained health of our world economy, I am going to remain optimistic that consumers will once again flock to their name brands.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure at this point in my life that I want to live in a world where Hermès, Saint Laurent, and Gucci don’t exist. I need to occasionally visit malls where there are stores who cater to my alleged betters.  I want this if for no other reason than to take a moment to appreciate that the young boy who ate grocery store brand cupcakes and wore department store brand jeans can appreciate such fine things.

In spite of my hyperbole, I really do delight in knowing there is amazing, expensive, and over-the-top merchandise out there.  So come on people, save Prada from the brink of insolvency!

But not so fast, Gorgeous…

Gorgeous looks longingly at the San Francisco Prada store in 2013.

Gorgeous looks longingly at the San Francisco Prada store in 2013. Sadly, all she has of the bag is this picture and the memory.

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12 thoughts on “Pity For Prada

  1. I went to parochial school so we all wore uniforms, the equalizer (at least sort of). Perhaps that’s when my focus on shoes became intense. We had one girl in our class who was a bumpkin. (Yes, she probably had store brand cupcakes too.) If we all had penny loafers she had saddle shoes. If we all had saddle shoes, she had MaryJanes. Her mother was “old world” as we called it. She wore a bun and sensible shoes (that means ugly tie-ups). We never teased her or bullied her (there were nuns there so no nonsense under fear of death) and we liked her but I remember that we all felt superior. Crap! This happened in grade school! I often wonder whatever happened to her. Of course rich Californians would feel superior.

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  2. For me the world of jeans became real IF and WHEN I could find a store that carried my size. For years, I wore a 38 Waist 34 Length, and the usual occurrence was that upscale stores catered more to the shorter and wider men. As an example if I wore a 42/30 i’d have had no problem. Moving down the scale ladder – to Walmart, K-Mart, Target, and so forth – I’d have a better chance of finding the size – but the quality would be less.

    Now as an older guy – I’ve settled in at 40W and I have halted my growth to remain at 34 length – and I’ve discovered that I can easily find Lee jeans, wigwam socks, heavyweight grey tee shirts all on line.

    And I read the news articles about the plight of Gucci, Prada and so forth. I recall thinking about those people who will no longer feel comfortable wearing $695 Hermes scarves, or toting around $5500 hand bags. The poor things.

    Thanks for another good read Snakes.

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    • Thanks, Mike! I choose to believe that you apparently were an unwitting fashion trailblazer for alternative stores. 😉

      I am nothing but bullish about the entitled crowd. They will survive this… fingers crossed for them!!!

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  3. I’ve never been much of a brand-follower when choosing clothes, shoes or accessories. It’s not that I’m a trail blazer, though. I’m just chea… um, frugal.

    The community in California that has been in the news because water conservation is beneath them is not too far from where we live. These are not people who are used to going without. I’m sure if the taps ever run dry, they will have their teams of landscapers out watering their well-manicured lawns with imported bottled water.

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  4. How funny you should write this. Just this past weekend, I had to pick up a couple of things at the mall (Tysons) and cut through the men’s department of a large store. I noticed, for the first time in years, that there were actually polo and other shirts without the logo over the heart. Both my husband and my son prefer shirts to be plain, and it has been next to impossible for me to buy either of them a shirt for a decade! Yay to unadorned!

    I had the crappy discount department store clothes and was delighted when the sixties hit and clothes could be old, ragged and mismatched and you were cool. Because I was cool long before anybody else. But I did get real ring dings. So you can tell my parents loved me.

    As for the bag, well, she would have gotten tired of it quickly.

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    • My dad always complained that we got him polo shirts with no pockets. We used to say, “But Dad, it’s a (famous designer)!” He could have cared less, he just wanted those pockets. He’d have loved this trend.

      Your parents did indeed love you. 🙂

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  5. In my day All schools in my hometown used uniforms so kids only had the name brand issues with backpacks and sneakers, not clothes. My parents never bought name brand anything so it was such a delight to have a pair of Adidas or Nike sneakers from an aunt or uncle for Christmas. But sadly, those new kicks had to last til next Christmas and were worn sparingly.

    I’ve carried that same mentality into my adulthood after I eventually discovered the name brand items, the ones I saved up to buy myself, didn’t last any longer than the other versions (with a few exceptions), and my dollar could stretch that much further if I used proper judgement to forego ‘brands’. Now that I’m a mom, I’m raising my kids the same way, to understand that the extra we pay for name brand is just for ‘status’ — membership dues as it were. And with all the other bills I have, I don’t need to pay dues to a club that offers me nothing but ‘status’. What good is said status if I go broke to get it. I really don’t see the point!

    Fads come and go, so I’m guessing this is simply the latest one, don’t worry about Prada and the others, they’ll be just fine.
    But those poor folks forced to live with brown lawns, they have my sincere sympathies. I’m shocked and outraged that the Prada, Gucci and other membership dues do not include name brand water supply lines directly to their homes and lawns. If I were in the club I’d be outraged too! 🙂

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