The Ethos of Consumerism and Luxury Consumption

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

  1. Bounder

    Bounder Senior member

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    What a lot of people miss is that this is actually a species of charity. Let's say you spend $50,000 dollars on a purse that has, to be generous, $5,000 of actual inputs. The rest is profit.

    First, the $5,000 while you are actually consuming it, does go to support various people and industries. So it's not really wasted. But the extra $45,000 you spent to be a brand whore is not consumed at all, at least not by you. Rather it is redistributed, mostly to people who are probably not as well -off as you and, who are, probably, smarter than you so they are more likely to put these additional resources to some productive use. After all, they were smart enough to sell you a $50,000 bag and you were stupid enough to buy it.

    So it is the people, like the various fathers in this thread, who insist on value for money who are the ones with the real ethical problem. We spendthrifts, who are spending $250K on a watch, are helping to create a fairer, more productive and more just society.
     


  2. hendrix

    hendrix Ill-proportioned

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    Not really.

    The 45000 is recirculated into a massive company like LVMH that will either return the money to its shareholders or spend the money on marketing for more brandwhoredom.

    Most of the smaller owned companies don't have such huge markups because they charge what's fair and they don't need to satisfy shareholders or pay for marketing.

    I'm not trying to say that there's necessarily anything wrong with paying for all of this, just that there are choices that you can make if you want to spend your money a certain way.

    Also, many people who buy luxury goods are not actually that wealthy.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012


  3. msulinski

    msulinski Senior member

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    But shareholders can be "common" people. Also, the money has to go to pay for the marketing, which in turn pays the salaries of the people who work in the marketing department or in the marketing firm.

    If the alternative is that the money sits in a rich guy's bank account, I think it is more beneficial to have it be spent.
     


  4. hendrix

    hendrix Ill-proportioned

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    well, the money sitting in a bank account is earning interest that is funding investment that the bank earns that uses the salaries of its employees...

    I'm not really rich, and TBH I don't think the target market of the luxury brands is necessarily particularly rich either.

    I was just making the point that, with these luxury products, there are ways you can spend more ethically without sacrificing your love for...luxury.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012


  5. Quadcammer

    Quadcammer Senior member

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    agree 100%
     


  6. add911_11

    add911_11 Senior member

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    great thread, thanks for sharing and make me rethink
     


  7. HRoi

    HRoi Senior member

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    at any point during this conversation, were the unassailable words "haters gonna hate" used to refute his arguments?
     


  8. bourbonbasted

    bourbonbasted Cyber Eliitist

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    Haha. Funny enough, my cousin used very similar words when he briefly stumbled into the conversation. He spends far more money than I do on clothes across a number of hobbies, including cars and his gun collection. His arguments that his hobbies are actually investments is a whole other thread, however.

    Thanks everyone for the input. It's been great to hear from both sides of the argument. I know I am guilty of buying things that are excessive or luxurious. And I know that my money could be fought over by a million different hobbies, causes or endeavors. At the end of the day I think it's inherently subjective as to what is justifiable and what is not. What brings you true happiness or at least contentment, to me, is not frivolous. However, as alluded to earlier in the thread, once something is purchased for the thrill or perfectly serviceable items are abandoned solely to feed the ego or greed of the purchaser, that's when it becomes a more objectively gluttonous situation.

    All that said, no one will ever know how much pleasure or service your purchases provide you. I'd hope that on this forum the extravagances we allow ourselves are put to good and redeeming use. That doesn't mean that you see a ROI or that you have someone thanking you for the expenditure. Rather, they serve as rewards or reminders of what hard work can earn people and provide support for an ever-dwindling class of highly disciplined, skilled and passionate artisans.

    While the whole discussion and a lot of views in the this thread will make me think twice about my next purchases, the argument of moderation or realized fulfillment cannot be objectively separated from one expenditure to another. Our choices will be our own and the satisfaction earned from these decisions will be the deciding factor in our future spending.
     


  9. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    good post.


    I am , to some extent, on the side of the fathers, being an old fart myself.

    I have one watch - a pilot watch from just after wwi. I wear one pair of cuffinks, silver globes from the 40's. I have a very small number of shoes, a small number of suits. I like to choose something that is right for me, that really fits what I want/need, and stick with it. I like things well made, artisinal things, but I have nothing that has a "luxury" brand on it, pretty much everything that I have is made by small 3rd world tailors that would remember my name if I walked in the store.

    there are a few things here that come to my mind

    1. there is something "not serious" or "effeminate" in how our culture percieves men who put a lot of effort into how they dress. this is not a hobby that gives other men the feeling that you are serious. nobody ever said "my boss is a serious badass, he sure can match his patterns". spending a lot of your money on extremem high end clothes isn't the type of thing that men of the greatest generation would approve of

    2. I don't like spending 2 dollars for something that I can buy for one. I honestly don't spend a lot of my time on bargain hunting (because I have to calculate in the value of my time) but if a suit made in india of british fabric is going to meet my needs as well as a british made suit, I'll buy the indian suit.

    3. I like to spend money on expereinces - I take my family on a 2 week vacation someplace cool every year (this year thailand and singapore) , I have a barbeque for friends every year that costs me a pretty serious chunk of change, we do a lot of fun things with the kids. I like to spend my money on things like food and wine, books, theatre, etc. also with that - I like to get pretty good wine for a reasonable price, and I like to eat at places that aren't insanly expensive, I enjoy realy good authentic streeet food often as much or more than a michelen starred meal.

    4. a lot of how I spend my money on is stuff that prepares my children for life. I don't spoil them, and I don't intend to leave them much money when I die, but I do save to educate them, and I provide them with enrichment and things that I believe are educational.
     


  10. Bounder

    Bounder Senior member

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    True. But we can all agree they are stupid, right? What smart person, of any income level, would spend $50K for a mass-produced purse from a giant corporation when they could have one bespoke from the finest artisan in the world from probably a tenth of the price?

    And anyway, what creates a more just and fair society? Rich people spending a fortune on, say, a summer house and actually getting their money's worth or spending the same amount of money on grossly overpriced luxury goods?

    In the case of the summer house, all of those building materials and, of course, the land, will only be used by the rich person for a month or so a year. Worse, they are actually consumed by the rich person in the sense that land and building materials cannot be used to build socially useful things like 7-11s.

    Whereas in the case of the luxury goods, 90% of the value is being redistributed rather than consumed.

    When you get right down to it, Hermes is all about social justice.
     


  11. Nicola

    Nicola Senior 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.
     


  12. Quadcammer

    Quadcammer Senior 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.
     


  13. Tropicalist

    Tropicalist Senior 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?
     


  14. 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?
     


  15. SHS

    SHS Senior member

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    Interesting and food for thought, thank you.
     


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