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Designer Brands: Why Are We So Obsessed?


During my freshman year of college I was amazed at how many girls wore designer denim to class and toted their books around in enormous Coach bags every day. How do they afford it? Why would they waste such a cute, expensive outfit on 8 AM class? It wasn’t the parade of sweats and pajamas I had been prepared for by older friends.

Instead I saw Seven For All Mankind, Paige, Primp, BCBG, Free People, Steve Madden, etc. etc. etc: What distinguishes these particular brands from Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, or those created by T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s? After questioning several of my designer brand sporting friends and trying to justify several of my own purchases, I came up with the following list:



1. Product Quality – Many people who don’t believe in buying designer brands say that you are only paying for the brand name and that the product is no better than any other. While you are paying in part for the “privilege” to wear the brand’s name, you are also probably purchasing a product that is high quality. For example, I buy designer denim because it fits better and lasts longer than the jeans I buy for $25.00 at Bob’s. Designer clothes are usually made from finer fabrics and have superior stitching compared to those of bargain stores.

2. Consistency – Most people who wear designer clothes swear by a few designers. For example, someone might own thirty pairs of Paige jeans but refuse to even look at Joe’s Jeans. Both are expensive, high quality brands, so what’s the difference? Paige jeans consistently fit, last, and look great, where Joe’s Jeans aren’t as flattering (this isn’t my personal opinion, it’s just an example). People keep going back to the same brands because they consistently perform well for them.

3. Self Identity – Certain brands represent certain things (according to the advertising class I took last semester). For example, Ralph Lauren represents classic preppy. Club Monaco is worn most often by young stylish professionals. Abercrombie reminds you of a skinny and popular thirteen year old girl. People buy certain brands because what you wear represents who you are.

4. Social Status – Wearing designer clothing aligns you with an elite group: those who can afford it. People who wear designer clothing recognize designer clothing. They can also usually recognize cheap clothing. When you are wearing a Juicy Couture dress, you appear wealthier and of higher social status than others. And who doesn’t want others to be insanely jealous of your clothes?

5. Uniqueness and Rarity – Ok, so this one is pretty similar to #3 and 4, but I have another point I need to make. Why is a Monet painting so expensive? Because it’s rare. Why are designer clothes so expensive? Bingo, you got it. If you pay $45.00 for an (overpriced) Abercrombie tank top, I guarantee you that during its shelf life in your wardrobe, you will run into at least 3 people who own the exact same tank and at least 20 people who own a tank very similar. If you pay $500.00 for a pair of Balenciaga shoes, I can almost guarantee you that no one else will be wearing them at the same time as you. You’re never going to experience that awkward moment where you bump into someone wearing the same outfit as you, which you probably handle by smiling and saying “Nice outfit!”

6. Celebrities Wear Designer Clothes – Yes, it’s stupid to buy something just because Nicole Richie wears it. Have I done it? Yup. I own three Primp tops even though the only reason Primp became trendy is because Paris Hilton and Britney Spears both wear it. Celebrities started the big sunglasses trend (or Rachel Zoe started making celebrities wear big sunglasses). Now I own a pair of huge sunglasses (which my boyfriend doesn’t hesitant to call hideous). People copy celebrities, and no matter how shallow or sheep-in-a-flock syndromish (yea it’s not a word) that is, it’s always going to be that way. Celebrities are like living bulletin boards for designers.

So there you have it – the 6 main reasons people wear designer clothes. I’m not saying that you should wear designer clothes, but I’m also not advising you against it. My wardrobe consists of a mix of American Eagle, H&M, and random deals I got on designer items (courtesy of Filene’s Basement and the demise of Jasmine Sola). Do I think it’s a little ridiculous to spend $2,500 on a dress you’re going to wear once? Yes. Would I do it if I could afford it? Of course!

It’s important to remember that fashion is an art, and clothes designed by Dior or Emilio Pucci are works of art. They are meant to be looked at, admired, and copied. And worn by rich people and famous style icons (who want to be looked at, admired, and copied). And finally to be discovered and treasured by you and when you get your hands on them for half the price!