Any purchase directs money to someone, so you are making someone better off. One might distinguish between benefiting a wealthy leader of a giant firm (Ralph Lauren), an American or British artisan, or a third world worker making far less, but still taking the best job she can get. Of the three, it is easiest to argue for patronizing the poor worker over the middle class and the middle class over the wealthy. But the real question at thar point is whether clothes are worth this kind of money.
I read SF to learn about care and maintenance of clothes, and for some ideas about less expensive ways to get to the same point. I am not actually that interested in clothing, particularly by SF standards. My job requires me to dress in standard, very conservative, business outfits. People in my workplace do not typically conform to the elements of "style" so valued here. You see button down shirts as the most common with business suits. You see solid black suits as the single most common thing the men and women wear. You almost never see pocket squares, and never cuff links, tie bars, tie clips, or jewelry on men other than a watch and wedding ring. There is a Yankee sense that displays of wealth are inappropriate. This type of frugal appearance is not necessarily typical of my field overall, and I do have colleagues outside of my workplace who spend like crazy.
Although I am personally repulsed by the idea of spending large amounts of money of luxuries and trinkets, I do find it reflects a level of self absorption that I find offensive. If people who spend thousands of dollars on suits had more perspective, they might buy a perfectly acceptable suit for far less money, and invest or give away the rest.
I could agree that there are apparently characteristics of a top quality bespoke suit that are objectively "better" than a low priced OTR. But I would ask "So what?" This better quality really means "conforms to what we have defined as better quality." It drapes better. Well, it drapes the way we have decided a jacket should drape. The canvassed front does not bubble. Well, we have decided that bubbling is bad, and only a complicated construction process can ensure that this will not occur.
I don't have any bespoke or MTM clothes. I cannot imagine I ever will. I cannot imagine spending that kind of money on clothing. Many of my clothes for work I inherited from my father, and I wear them every week. To the extent that I buy more clothes for myself, I go sale, discount, ebay, and now thrift shop. I find clothes that fit well enough and I wear them. I do not get alternations, and if the fit is not perfect, I don't care. I am not a model, an entertainer, or someone else for whom appearance is part of my career success.
I am in the 1% in income and networth. I could afford to spend a lot of money on clothes, shoes, watches, etc. But I don't. I have one watch that I bought, and I use it. It is a cheap Casio and it keeps perfect time. I have no need of a fancy or more expensive watch. I barely need the one I have, since I am never without my phone, and I am usually in front of several computer screens that all show the time. Plus clocks in every room. I can appreciate the artistry that goes into making a JLC Reverso Gyrotourbillon without feeling the need to own one. I can appreciate an Andrew Wyeth original without needing to own that either.
I don't believe that this sort of spending, or travel, for that matter, makes people better. I live a comfortable life, but I save each year more money than I pay in taxes, and I pay more in taxes than I spend. I have not boarded an airplane for a vacation in over a decade. I have never spent over $100 for dinner for two. When I have time off from work I like to take hikes, go to the library, or free student concerts at the excellent local conservatory. I could afford season tickets to our world class symphony, but the student concerts are remarkably good and free. In this, I have much in common with many people who make much less money. They live fulfilling lives without having to spend the way many of my fellow one percenters do. So why do I need all that stuff that they cannot afford?
We have been lucky to have a long period without a true depression. The Great Recession, painful as it has been, is nothing compared to what the world went through in the '30's, or what Spain and Greece confront now. People who spend large amounts of money on things they don't need should consider how they will live when the bill comes due on the unbelievable level of debt we have accumulated. It will not be conforting to say "I can't pay my mortgage, and this bespoke suit is only worth $100 at resale, but at least I had the opportunity to feel like a man of taste and style when I bought it"
I don't exactly criticize people who spend lots of money on clothing. It is a free country, and this is legal behavior. But on a previous thread I made similar observations and faced an amazing number of bitter attacks for challenging the assumption that everyone should wear the "best" clothes they can, while conforming to a rigid set of rules about what to wear when.
Edited by dbhdnhdbh - 1/13/13 at 2:11pm