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The Ethos of Consumerism and Luxury Consumption - Page 2

post #16 of 131
Charity is not entirely free of ego-stroking, so his thinking there is a bit flawed. There are regular people behind these brands making a decent living, not just the 'evil corporations' of the world that are trying to scathe you via pricing. I'd wager that there are more people making a killing off of the lowest common denominator of product than that of luxury goods. You just don't hear it as often because the consumer is under the false impression that they're getting a better deal, simply because the price is lower overall.
post #17 of 131

I think one of the lines that can be drawn is when something becomes more expensive without adding any real benefit to the item and may in fact detract from its usefulness. The best example of this that popped up recently is the thread about precious metal collar stays, which are undoubtedly unnecessary as steel or plastic stays do the job better and very much more cheaply.
 

post #18 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by bourbonbasted View Post

We never talked about specific numbers or even price ranges for that matter. As I said he is quite successful, so it's not the idea of spending money, but rather how it's spent. He'd much rather put money into travel or investments or philanthropy than have a tailor at his beck and call. He gave me an example of his watch. It's a Patek that his father left him when he died. While he understands the value of the watch and that is a great timepiece, he doesn't see the virtue in spending thousands of dollars on a watch. He also sees having one watch as all that is necessary. To pour more money into a need that's already satisfied (quite well) is unnecessary.
Beyond that he sees the need or interest of having everything the best-of-the-best as a show for other people. Rather than investing in something that will make you a better person (like charity, education, travel, etc), the person who is luxury-obsessed looks to cover up their insecurities with extravagance. Again, this was his thinking, not mine. However, I do think there is something to be said for pouring a small (or large) fortune into what essentially boils down to vanity. Just something that made me think.
Empty, thank you for the insight. As you alluded, my family friend is very big into giving back. It's from this that I think he draws the conclusion that it becomes sinful to live so excessively when so many are deprived of the basics. Combining this with the idea that these purchases are made to stoke one's ego, he takes even further exception. While I can see the virtue in his statements, I will never be selfless enough to not revel in my success and reward myself for my accomplishments. Just how I'm wired.
I know this all seems to be on a circular track dependent on income or fervor, but I appreciate everyone's insight. It was a bit of an eye-opening conversation for me and I'm curious to know of everyone's opinions.

Its all about preferences. Some may think a 2 week trip to bali is excessive and he may not. If he likes to engage in philantrophy, thats great...but that doesn't mean spending one's money on whatever they enjoy is excessive or improper.

For example, I spent a ton of money on two cars that I really enjoy. I'm not a huge fan of extended travel, so that saves me a lot of money. People ask me how the hell I manage to have a porsche and s-class, but then they go on 2 week vacations to australia. I point that out to them and all i hear is...well thats different.

yup, its all personal preference. That said, If it ever got to the point where I had so many cars that I hardly drove some of them, I'd have to reconsider whether its excessive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EMartNJ View Post

I think one of the lines that can be drawn is when something becomes more expensive without adding any real benefit to the item and may in fact detract from its usefulness. The best example of this that popped up recently is the thread about precious metal collar stays, which are undoubtedly unnecessary as steel or plastic stays do the job better and very much more cheaply.

same thread came to mind for me. $700 collar stays to me is excessive.
post #19 of 131
In my view, gluttony begins once the threshold of diminishing returns has been crossed. For every item there is that point where function, style, craftsmanship and luxury meet. And as you continue beyond that point, you are abandoning style and function and are pursuing decadence.

This point sometimes varies from person to person, but a general consensus can often be reached. Diminishing returns can be blatantly obvious as somethings really only improve incrementally (and sometimes improvement completely ends and you are buying pure exclusivity). A great example is the famous Birkin bag. A $50,000 price tag is not out of the ordinary for these bags. At what price point did you leave behind function and craftsmanship and enter into luxury; then, when did you leave luxury behind for exclusivity?

Again, this imaginary point varies from person to person based on their means, but for the majority of us, it should be fairly close.

Last bit of note, I don't particularly view gluttony in a negative light despite the word having strong negative connotations. But I think this too will vary from person to person.
post #20 of 131
Has anyone read Singer's Famine, Affluence, and Morality?

A video for those who are too lazy to read

By the way, his argument can go until the marginal benefit to you of not saving your shoes (or not buying a new pair) is equal the benefit of helping someone in a worse state than yourself. This is not an argument for moderation.
post #21 of 131
I think your question has been some what answered in " The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy "
post #22 of 131
Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It's not worth a thing unless it's spread around, encouraging young things to grow.
post #23 of 131
i apologize, this is a conversation i have had many times, mostly with my father, so i am compelled to write something here. however, i wasnt able to read all the posts yet, so forgive me if i am touching on points already covered.

this conversation usually comes up for me in the context of watches, usually in the 250K+ range. obviously that is an extreme example, but i think the same argument can be had over 2000 dollar shoes, or a 5000 dollar suit.

my general opinion is, if you can afford it, and you are using your recourses properly elsewhere (schools, charity, family...) i see no reason why its is wrong. i appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into these things, and i feel if you have the dough, and you feel comfortable making purchases like that, be it a watch for 6 figures, or a suit for 20K, or shoes for 7k.... than why not.

my father on the other hand, firmly disagrees with me. even though he can appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into these wares, and even in a situation where one had the recourses, so they were not damaging themselves financially, and was using their money for other humanitarian causes equally as well, he still feels it is not right. his feeling is that such a sum of money for such an object, despite all the above, is just not appropriate.

where each person draws the line though, is also different. for example, at what point would my father be ok with a watch purchase? he does not feel than anything beyond utilitarian use is wasteful, he can appreciate fine craftsmanship. so is the line 2k, 5k, 10k... who knows.

and to be honest, i cant really argue against his point. in the end, i think all these things are about different philosophies, and there is no real right or wrong. much of it is based on a persons upbringing, or their personal experiences, but its all valid imo. the main thing for me is, that a person do what they feel comfortable with, and that their consumerism is not at the expense of more important things in life.

great topic bourbon!
post #24 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gdot View Post

Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It's not worth a thing unless it's spread around, encouraging young things to grow.

Millions of college students are using this one on their parents even as we speak.
post #25 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bounder View Post

Millions of college students are using this one on their parents even as we speak.

As they should. Having a child should come with a warning, "The rest of your life, and all of your money are forfeit."
post #26 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkinnyGoomba View Post

I see consumerism and luxury consumption as two separate and not nessesarily related items.

Yes, I think this too.
I find it more justifiable to buy bespoke clothing and shoes than RTW because you know to whom the money is going. Moreover, I think that the amount paid is not all that relevant, it's more about the number of clothes relative to your need. I find all high end watches and cars excessive from a style perspective, but I understand that it's more of a hobby to these people - so it's more like spending money on a nice guitar, which I'm more comfortable with in my head. OTOH, you could justify clothing as a hobby, and then things get a little murky.

Lastly, I think that some of the excessive purchasing we see on the forum could be considered indicative of some problems on the part of the purchaser. There's something about a need to buy lots and lots of clothes that just seems a little bit sick. Almost like an addiction. The other problem with this is that when you're constantly buying new stuff you forget to enjoy what you already have.
post #27 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by hendrix View Post


Lastly, I think that some of the excessive purchasing we see on the forum could be considered indicative of some problems on the part of the purchaser. There's something about a need to buy lots and lots of clothes that just seems a little bit sick. Almost like an addiction. The other problem with this is that when you're constantly buying new stuff you forget to enjoy what you already have.

that is a big part of it and is real. The thrill comes from making the purchase, not necessarily the item itself. On rare occasion I feel that way, recognize it and cut back.
post #28 of 131
I doubt anyone here will argue that they're on the wrong 'side' of this spending debate- though someone made a comment about the friend wearing clothing from the GAP. I know a great many people who see things such as The Gap as being "fancy". Most people have no concept of bespoke at all, nor do they care. I worry that those who think that just because they're spending 2000 on a pair of shoes they're somehow 'better' than someone who cares little about 'aesthetics' or whatever. Or maybe I spend too much time with inner-city kids.
post #29 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadcammer View Post

that is a big part of it and is real. The thrill comes from making the purchase, not necessarily the item itself. On rare occasion I feel that way, recognize it and cut back.

"More pleasure can be had from from wanting rather than having. It is not logical but it is often true." (or something)

- Mr. Spock
post #30 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadcammer View Post

that is a big part of it and is real. The thrill comes from making the purchase, not necessarily the item itself. On rare occasion I feel that way, recognize it and cut back.

I started a whole thread on SW&D as a backlash to the phenomenon. I am certainly not immune to it myself, which is most of the reason I started the thread.

Why do so many people feel that they need to try each and every shoe brand that has a thread on SF? Every group MTO project?
I used to want every new MTO project, now I've recovered and have resolved to stick to one shoemaker.

Everything needs to be better. It's not enough to have green wholecuts. They need to be shell cordovan, because shell cordovan is more expensive and therefore better. etc etc.

Some people genuinely want a quirky item, cool. But I would hazard that for many people this desire is kinda self-perpetuating, at least from what i'm seeing. It just makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable.
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