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The Ethos of Consumerism and Luxury Consumption

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

  1. SuitedDx

    SuitedDx Senior 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


  2. Mute

    Mute Senior 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.
     


  3. 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.
     


  4. Pawz

    Pawz Senior 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


  5. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Senior member

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


  6. Quadcammer

    Quadcammer Senior 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.
     


  7. crinklecut

    crinklecut Senior 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


  8. Pawz

    Pawz Senior 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.
     


  9. Victor Elfo

    Victor Elfo Senior 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


  10. Working Stiff

    Working Stiff Senior 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.
     


  11. 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. :)
     


  12. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Senior 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


  13. Quadcammer

    Quadcammer Senior 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.
     


  14. GothamRed

    GothamRed Senior 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]
     


  15. HRoi

    HRoi Senior 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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