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The Ethos of Consumerism and Luxury Consumption

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by bourbonbasted, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. Nicola

    Nicola Well-Known Member

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    For that to be true you need to define usefulness. The person buying those things might gain some benefit from them. Just because you don't appreciate something doesn't mean others don't.

    People tend to get too tied up in what other people do.

    You don't need cable TV. You don't need more then one channel . How much extra do you gain from having 299 stations you never watch but are paying for?

    How often do you throw food out of the fridge because it's gone bad?

    How often don't you finish a cup of coffee or a meal?

    Everything is wasteful to some measure.
     
  2. Quadcammer

    Quadcammer Well-Known Member

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    I'm gonna say yes and no to this.

    If a person spend say $6,000 on a bespoke Anderson & Shepard suit in a plain or subtle pinstripe navy/grey, I don't think anybody would think he's not serious or effeminate.

    I don't think its about the money or time spent as much as it is about wild colors, unusual styles (huge cuffs, ankle baring pants, wingtips without socks, etc), and general dandyism that makes the hobby seem not serious.

    I think men of the "greatest generation" spent plenty of money on fine clothes, but back then, dress was more formal, and you didn't really talk about it, because a well tailored suit was a norm, not an exception.
     
  3. Tropicalist

    Tropicalist Well-Known Member

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    To me consumerism is about spending silly sums of money on branded products when you could spend less money on bespoke, artisanal or niche. One simply requires the capacity to pay, te other requires interest, passion and research.

    The question is probably more whether clothes are important enough to warrant that kind of care. To that answer is that clothes have always been a key part of personal and political statement. Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah discarded their sevill row suits to prove a point. Martin Luther King donned excellently tailored clothes to prove the same point in a different way. In this day and age of casualism it is undeniable that a person who chooses to dress well is making a point: often either harking back to a class status lost, or a class status gained. We also try to live in nice houses, drive nice cars, eat better etc. I dont see anyone complaining about that. Is a round neck t-shirt and jeans, apparently the signature of a 'guy' any less of a uniform than a Mao suit?
     
  4. dlaverty

    dlaverty New Member

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    The friend of the original poster's father was making a second point - apart from appropriate investments of money, what about the even more important investments of time? Let's take it as a given that the highest quality in an object is a worthy pursuit, and that each person is free to make his or her own judgments on what is worth consuming and what is not. What about opportunity cost, as the economists put it? Those hours spend chasing the ultimate Loeb or Yamamoto - what was the cost in time lost to family, career, friends and exploring the many other facets of life? I was struck by a poster who spent his 3 days in LA not at the beach, at the Getty, taking in great architecture or music, or chasing girls for that matter - but in running to a large number of thrift stores to find the elusive Isaia. Say what? If we are not functioning at a high level in our careers and place in socieity, what is the use of that clothing in any event - artifice and an empty suit? The thrill of the pursuit, trigging dopamine flow to stave off dissatisfaction with other elements of our lives?
     
  5. SHS

    SHS Well-Known Member

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    Interesting and food for thought, thank you.
     
  6. SuitedDx

    SuitedDx Well-Known Member

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    Great reads from economic and sociopolitical perspectives. Interestingly I see this behavior from a different angle since my background is psychology. There are levels of group-think and selective sampling which goes on that makes owning a large number or expensive clothing more acceptable. The mean/bar is set high so certain level of excessiveness may not recognized as out of the norm. Another factor is masculine ideologies. Men are raised and socialized to be better, more successful, and competitive. This can manifest is lots of behaviors, in SF's case, greater number/more expensive clothes.

    Is spending thousands of dollars for a pair of shoes bad? One of my expertise is in addiction and it is noteworthy to point out that diagnostically, we do not rely on how much or how often to come to certain diagnoses. We instead make a determination as to how much the behavior(s) causes distress to one's self and others and impact on level of functioning (obviously looking at numerous criteria). Please understand I am not implying buying clothes is pathological, but I thought it would be interesting to introduce non-fiscal factors into the discussion.

    Sorry if my writing is bad I did this on my phone. :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  7. Mute

    Mute Well-Known Member

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    My opinion on this has always been that, unless a person's lifestyle has a negative impact on them or others, it's really nobody's damn business.
     
  8. pepperyourangus

    pepperyourangus New Member

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    OP has a severe case of first world problems. If you're questioning whether your materialism is excessive, then it probably is. Everyone has interests/hobbies. It could be partying, drugs, gambling, food, fitness, religion, cars, sports, clothes etc. The key is doing everything in moderation! If your hobbies become a vice, then you've got a problem.
     
  9. Pawz

    Pawz Well-Known Member

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    A friend:

    "I follow the philosophy that a watch is supposed to tell you the time and a $10 watch does it just as well as a $10,000 one and the money for the latter can be used for actually useful things.
    (if bought solely as an investment) don't use it. Keep it in safe storage. That being the case, you still need something to tell you the time.


    I agree, to a point.

    For myself, I'd rather use and wear nice things as opposed to their inexpensive, non-descript, 'purely-functional' counterparts. Why?
    I dunno, really. I guess it's because I wore cheap clothing for years, but now I know better. If I have two ties that are otherwise identical, except one is Brooks Brothers and the other is Meeting Street, I will ALWAYS opt for the Brooks Brothers tie. Why should I wear the 'lesser' one?
    And if I had more money, why would I buy a new tie from Brooks Brothers if I can afford to get one by Brioni?
    For me, it's just because I know there is better stuff out there, so why settle?
    Money/expense isn't always an issue, esp. true if you're a thrifter: you (often) pay the same for a Corneliani jacket as you would for a Haggar jacket. If they both fit the same, why bother with the lesser?

    But I've also thought about this... Suppose I was a billionaire living in Dubai. Would every piece of clothing I own be Tom Ford and every shoe I own be bench-made of English leather? Somewhy, in spite of what I said in the above paragraph, the idea 'offended' me. Maybe I'm just weird? XD

    Anyhow, I feel brandwhoring is only excessive if you use labels for and/or against other persons, i.e., you don't deserve to breathe the same air as me because you shop at JC Penny. If I ever get to that point, I'd hope SF would provide a mercy killing.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  10. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Well-Known Member

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    Is this not "brand" whoring? Otherwise identical (material, worksmanship) except one has better known "name"
     
  11. Quadcammer

    Quadcammer Well-Known Member

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    problem with this is that there will always be something better. First its Howard Yount trousers at $200...but then you hear about XYZ pants for $500 that have way better this that or the other thing...well then you hear that a fellow in Naples makes a hell of a pair of pents...that'll be $1000...but wait, anderson and sheppard will make some out of holland and sherry's finest for only $5,000 and on and on it goes.
     
  12. crinklecut

    crinklecut Well-Known Member

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    That's assuming you have no common sense or knowledge of diminishing returns...

    Otherwise, there is a point where you can say, "Yes, these pants are good enough," and be content, without wondering what you are missing out on at the next rung up the ladder. But it seems to be a problem for a lot of people.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  13. Pawz

    Pawz Well-Known Member

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    Never said it wasn't. :)

    My statement about brandwhoring regarded such in excess - a point where it is unhealthy. In other words, there's nothing wrong with it (socially) until you somehow equate a person's worth to the labels they wear, the car they drive, the place where they get their coffee, etc.
     
  14. Victor Elfo

    Victor Elfo Well-Known Member

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    In my native language, that's is the summary of the academic definition for consumerism and the only difference between this and "luxury consumption" is the amount of money that is wasted, I share this opinion.
    The flaw on that logic is that "need" is subjective, so I add that we should put our need into perspective to the need of others that have much less that us.
    So one possible answer to your question is that even an one hundred dollar shirt is an excess. That's how our world is twisted.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  15. Working Stiff

    Working Stiff Well-Known Member

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    Obviously, all clothing-buying is consumerism. Where consumerism becomes a problem is where we locate our hope for happiness in the acquisition of new goods. Which is not to say that you can't take pleasure from buying things, just that it's very easy to cross the line into fetishism. And of course fashion/clothing is essentially a narcissistic pursuit (regardless of this sort of disingenuous talk of supporting artisans) so that's another layer of problems.
     
  16. Scabal Fanatic

    Scabal Fanatic Active Member

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    I'll go short and say that brands "for clothing" from stores are mostly selling everything too damn high for cheap quality. Why pay a Tom Ford shirt $599 if you can have a great tailor make you a beautiful dress shirt of superb fabric (Scabal, Dormeuil, Holland & Sherry for a lot less?

    Why pay $10,000 for a Kiton suit if you can have a tailor make it for you for a lot less (very good fabric)?

    I would agree to pay a hand made watch over $20k because of extreme quality. Artisans make it, not Chinese in a sweat shop a 1 cent an hour.

    Shoes, you may find custom made shoes around $1k, will be perfect, compare to $500 Ferragamos...

    I stopped to spend crazy amount of money on not decent quality stuff 1 year ago... Never going back to that...

    People will spend money as much as they have, without getting bankrupt. I say, if you pay all the bills, save some cash and still have some left, spend it on what you wish. :)
     
  17. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  18. Quadcammer

    Quadcammer Well-Known Member

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    Ok, pretty odd you'd spend time on this website if thats the case.

    In addition, so you never spend money on anything, yet you have a significant income. What do you do with all this money? save it? (for what) invest it (increasing the money for what?). If not these, then there must be something you spend money on.
     
  19. GothamRed

    GothamRed Well-Known Member

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    Ok, fine, whatever, to each his own and all of that, but...

    Right...and, ahem...

    See http://www.styleforum.net/t/329378/brass-nails-used-to-impede-shoe-wear/45#post_6019912

    So...

    [​IMG]
     
  20. HRoi

    HRoi Well-Known Member

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    well, while we're being judgmental, i find that this -

    - sounds like an incredibly dull existence
     

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